With the track in tip-top condition, their was no shortage of fast close racing, plenty of passing and a couple of race records being bettered at The Racecourse Hotel & Motorlodge Ruapuna Speedway on Saturday evening with the Modified Sprint Clay Cup and the Midgetcar Mayhem being the featured events.
As expected, there was plenty of close racing in the annual Clay Cup. Jayden Fraser (Invercargill) took out the first of the three heats by a good margin, from Brett Booth and Brendan Daly. The second heat saw a great battle between eventual winner, Ben Gilmore and Kieran Harris, with Harris pressing hard over the closing laps without success with Craig Cox third from Fraser and Courtney Jones.
Nelson’s Jayedan Basalaj took out the third heat which saw the red lights come on lap four after Cox’s car suffered a steering failure after contact on turns 1 and 2 after crashed heavily into the safety fence in the middle of turns 3 and 4. Cox managed to walk away from the crash, but his car suffered moderate damage. When the race resumed Basalaj headed home Harris with Fraser in third place from Gilmore and Booth. This left Fraser as top scorer with 55, three ahead of Gilmore with both Basalaj and Harris on 52.
The 15 Lap Feature for the Clay Cup turned into an epic battle between Gilmore and Harris with these two opening-up a gap on Harris and Basalaj. With Gilmore holding the lead Harris used all his experience to try and pressure Gilmore into making a mistake that would allow a pass, but Gilmore was up to the task and took out the title by a less than half a second with Fraser third from Basalaj and Jones.
A small field of Midgetcars lined up in the Midget Mayhem with the highest points scoring having to start at the back of the 20 Lap Feature, with the leader of each lap paid a share of the $2,000 prize pot none of the drivers were holding back. Tom Lumsden dominated the heat racing winning all three. The first saw Lumsden win by a good margin with a blanket finish from second to fourth with the three cars locked together at the finish line, with just over half a second between them with Glen Durie second just ahead of Jeremy Webb and Dave Kerr.
Lumsden had to work hard to claim back-to-back wins, charge through the pack to claim a narrow win from South Island champ, Jack Low with Kerr and Webb having their own battle for third and fourth place. Lumsden was a clear winner of the final heat heading home Webb and Kerr to claim a maximum 60 points meaning a back row start for the Feature. Webb was the next highest points scorer on 54, from Kerr on 53 and Low on 52.
With all the interest on the hard charging markers moving up through the field Dunedin’s Nathan Wilkie grabbed a good share of the prizemoney when leading over half the race before Durie hit the front before both Low and Webb passed Durie. With teenage Low leading he then came under immense pressure from Webb for the lead as the two cars were locked together as the laps quickly counted down. Low kept his cool and managed to shut down Webb before Low opened up a small margin with Webb then coming under rule pressure as Durie put in a strong final few laps but had to settle for third place just ahead of the fast-finishing Lumsden who had to settle for fourth place with Wilkie in fifth.
Two new track records were set during the Three Quarter Midget racing. Liam McCoubrey set a new 10 Lap record of 2 mins 39.6222 seconds when winning the opening heat after a great battle with Kyle Glover, with both cars locked together at the chequered flag, with Ben Morgan third.
Glover, who had a bad run of luck recently then took out the following two heats, after heading home McCoubrey in the second heat and Scott Bailey in the final heat, with Kimberley Yeatman and Morgan each claiming a third placing. In the Feature Glover lead from start to finish with McCoubrey having to settle for the runner-up position with Morgan third with Glover securing a new 15 lap record of 4 mins 01.2259 seconds. Morgan and Yeatman took out the Best Pair event on 102 points, three points ahead of McCoubrey and Jess Morris with Glover and partner, Dyllan Forsey in third place on 94.
Kirk Hawkins was the stand-out in the V6 Wingless Sprint section when winning two of the three heats, having to settle for third place in the middle heat behind Andrew Gregge and Peter Keith. These three drivers then battled it out in the Feature with Hawkins again coming out on top with Keith just snatching second place, by less than half a second from Gregge.
The development Quarter Midget class returned to the track with Malakai Webb and Jack Brownlees each claiming a heat win with Brownlees then claiming the Feature from the consistent Jacob Cunniffe with Webb in third place. In the Farewell Cunniffe come out on top from Brownlees with Ethan Smith claiming third. The Best Pairs were also held with consistent placing seeing Isabelle and Jackson Clark coming out on top, from Conley Webley and Kohen Thompson with Brownlees and Meneka Rawson in third.
Race Results: Midgetcars - Midget Mayhem Ht 1. Tom Lumsden 1, Glen Durie 2, Jeremy Webb 3. Ht 2. Lumsden 1, Jack Low 2, Kerr 3. Ht 3. Lumsden 1, Webb 2, Kerr 3. Feature. Low 1, Webb 2, Durie 3.
Modified Sprints -Clay Cup Ht 1. Jayden Fraser 1, Brett Booth 2, Brendan Daly 3. Ht 2. Ben Gilmore 1, Kieran Harris 2, Craig Cox 3. Ht 3. Jayeden Basalaj 1, Harris 2, Fraser 3. Feature. Gilmore 1, Harris 2, Fraser 3.
Three Quarter Midgets - Best Pairs Ht 1. Liam McCoubrey 1, Kyle Glover 2, Ben Morgan 3. Ht 2. Glover 1, McCoubrey 2, Kimberley Yeatman 3. Ht 3. Glover 1, Scott Bailey 2, Morgan 3. Best Pairs Points: Morgan / Yeatman 102 points 1st, McCoubrey / Jess Morris 99 2nd, Glover / Dyllan Forsey 94 3rd. Feature. Glover 1, McCoubrey 2, Morgan 3.
V6 Wingless Sprints Ht 1. Kirk Hawkins 1, Peter Keith 2, Jeremy Scarlett 3. Ht 2. Andrew Gregge 1, Keith 2, Hawkins 3. Ht 3. Hawkins 1, Gregge 2, Glenn Everett 3. Feature. Hawkins 1, Keith 2, Gregge 3.
Quarter Midgets – Best Pairs Ht 1. Malakai Webb 1, Ethan Smith 2, Jacob Cunniffe 3. Ht 2. Jack Brownlees 1, Cunniffe 2, Webb 3. Feature. Brownlees 1, Cunniffe 2, Webb 3. Best Pairs. Isabelle Clark / Jackson Clark 1st, Conley Webley / Kohen Thompson 2nd, Brownlees / Meneka Rawson 3rd. Farewell. Cunniffe 1, Brownlees 2, Smith 3.