The 2019/20 season at The Racecourse Hotel & Motorlodge Ruapuna Speedway roared into life on Saturday evening under barmy summer conditions with fans enjoying the improvements to the stadium made by a hard-working team during the off season.
Opening night action, sponsored by Total Lubricants saw the first round of VINZ Sprintcar Summer Slam and the King of Clay title for all racing classes.
A good field of sprintcars turned out for the first of the four rounds of the Summer Slam series, which see the top points scorers having to start off the back for the Feature, saw plenty of passing in the heats with the hot conditions seeing the track slick off for the 25 Lap Feature which limited the passing.
Cromwell based Sam O’Callaghan took out the opening heat after a great dice with first former Black Cap, Nathan Astle and then Matt Honeywell, with O’Callaghan passing Astle on lap ten to claim second place and then cut under Honeywell on the Town Bend two laps later to claim the win.
After missing the set up in the open heat Allan Chapman, back after having a reduced campaign last season powered to the front early on in the next heat, taking over the lead from Jacob Brownlees and was never headed to lead the field home from Nathan Roberts and Caleb Baughan.
Blenheim’s Paddy North took out the Feature from Baughan and Nelson’s Alicia Hill, formerly McLauchlan. It was flag to flag win North who showed great car control in the tricky conditions with Baughan and Hill having a great battle over the opening stages of the race before Baughan managed to get by with former Six Shooter driver Gene Spooner coming home in fourth place with interest over the closing laps centring on the next two spots with O’Callaghan and Astle battling it out over the closing laps with O’Callaghan prevailing.
With the New Zealand Midgetcar title being contested at Ruapuna in the New Year drivers were out to set down and early marker. Tom Lumsden came from behind to win the opening heat, first having to account from teenager, Jack Low and then passing Jeremy Webb on a restart to claim the chequered flag.
Dave Kerr, who was forced to retire from the opening heat, showed he had not lost any of his class after having a season off, was untroubled to claim the next heat, dicing with Lumsden in the opening laps, with Webb coming home strongly take second place from Low who had to see off a late challenge from Glen Durie.
Kyle Glover had a good night in the Three Quarter Midget class winning the first heat from Nelson’s Morgan Frost and Liam McCoubrey. McCoubrey and Glover then went nose to tail on the next heat as the came from near the back of the field to take out first and second respectively with Michael Moulin third.
In the Feature, Glover lead out from McCoubrey and Frost with Frost involved in a tangle on lap four and retiring to the infield to move Ben Morgan on to third. At the mid-point of the race McCoubrey briefly challenged for the lead but on another restart McCoubrey was passed by Morgan and late in the race Gareth Bindon then moved into third place with Glover untroubled to take the victory from Morgan.
There was spirited racing in the Modified Sprint class will all their races keenly contested. Kieran Harris took out the opening heat from Kate Warren and Courtney Jones. Heat two saw Clayton Phillips claim the win from Daniel Jenkins and Harris. The Feature again saw Phillips first across the line from Warren with Jenkins having to settle for third.
Retirement saw the Feature for the Six Shooter class not stages with the heat wins going to Steve Duff and Andrew Gregge with Peter Keith coming home in second place in both races with Daryl Wright claiming a third place along with Duff. In the development Quarter Midget class Jacob Cunniffe continued his form from last season when winning all three races with Jack Brownlees, Dyllan Forley and Ethan Smith all claiming a second place.
Sprintcars Race 1. Sam O'Callaghan 1, Matt Honeywell 2, Nathan Astle 3. Race 2. Allan Chapman 1, Nathan Roberts 2, Caleb Baughan 3. Feature. Paddy North 1, Baughan 2, Alicia Hill 3.
Midgets Race 1. Tom Lumsden 1, Jeremy Webb 2, Jay Chadwick 3. Race 2. Dave Kerr 1, Webb 2, Jack Low 3. Feature. Webb 1, Lumsden 2, Low 3.
Three Quarter Midgets Race 1. Kyle Glover 1, Morgan Frost 2, Liam McCoubrey 3. Race 2. McCoubrey 1, Kyle Glover 2, Michael Moulin 3. Feature. Glover 1, Ben Morgan 2, Garth Bindon 3.
Modified Sprints Race 1. Kieran Harris 1, Kate Warren 2, Courtney Jones 3. Race 2. Clayton Phillips 1, Daniel Jenkins 2, Harris 3. Feature. Phillips 1, Warren 2, Daniel Jenkins 3.
Six Shooters Race 1. Steve Duff 1, Peter Keith 2, Daryl Wright 3. Race 2. Andrew Gregge 1, Keith 2, Duff 3.
Quarter Midgets Race 1. Jacob Cunniffe 1, Jack Brownlees 2, Caleb Cribb 3. Race 2. Cunniffe 1, Dyllan Forsey 2, Ethan Smith 3. Feature. Cunniffe 1, Smith 2, Forsey 3.