Plenty Of Close Racing As Canterbury Titles On The Line

With the Canterbury titles up for grabs on Saturday evening at The Racecourse Hotel & Motor Lodge Ruapuna Speedway racing was intense with the changeable spring Christchurch weather seeing the track slick off as the strong winds hit.

Sprintcar driver, Jamie Duff, continued his hot run this season when racking up three from three Feature wins. The former NZ title holder has to settle for fourth place in his opening heat, won by Nelson’s Conner Rangi taking out his opening race of the season, from Matt Honeywell, back after his heavy crash on the opening night of the season with Blenheim’s Paddy North just holding Duff at bay for third place. Jamie Duff took out the next heat after a good dice with Caleb Baughan with Martin Harcourt finishing strongly to claim third place from Steve Duff and North. Jamie Duff and Baughan were the early pace setters in the Feature, with Rangi back in third place. Rangi when came under pressure from North who over did things and spun out on lap seven forcing the field to close-up under the caution lights. When the race resumed Baughan took the lead, but Duff stormed back into the lead on the following lap. Rangi was then passed by Harcourt, with the latter then closing in to Baughan. With half the lap completed Harcourt had moved into second place and set about closing into on the race leader. In the final few laps Duff seemed to sense Harcourt was closing the margin and increased the pace to secure the win with Harcourt awarded the Sprintcar drive of the Night award.

Current NZ Three Quarter Midgetcar champion, Jeremy Webb was the standout in the class, slowing his class win winning both his heats. Leading home Liam McCoubrey in his first heat but having to work harder before getting the better of Dylan Bensemann (Nelson) to claim his second win by less than a second. McCoubrey took out the final heat to start alongside Webb in the Accessman 20 Lap Southern Derby Feature which had a cash bonus for the leading driver for each lap. Webb dominated the race, leading from the green to chequered flag to sweep the prize pot and take on the Derby as well as the Canterbury title. McCoubrey took out second from Kyle Glover, Scott Bailey and Kimberley Yeatman.

Webb was doubling up in the midgetcar class as well also recorded impressive results in a round of the Southern Series. After finish in fourth place in the opening heat, won by Dave Kerr, with Jack Low second and Glen Durie in third place. Webb then had a great dice with Kerr before winning the second heat, with Reon Taylor on third place. Webb then took out the pole shuffle, from Kerr. In the Feature Webb lead out from Kerr on the opening lap, slowing increasing his lead with each lap over the first half of the race, before Kerr then started to cut into Webb lead, and with two laps to race the cars the nose to tail when the race went under caution when Taylor spun. On the restart Webb again took the lead as Kerr came under real pressure from Glen Milroy who cut inside Kerr coming out of the Town Bend on the penultimate lap to claim second place behind Webb with Kerr.

Nelson’s Jayeden Basalaj home back home with the Canterbury Modified Sprint title, heading home Invercargill’s Jayden Fraser, with Daniel Jenkins in third. Jenkins and Basalaj both claimed a heat win, with Fraser claiming third place in the opening heat and before going one better in the next heat.

Andrew Gregge claimed the keenly contested Six Shooter title from Kirk Hawkins with Peter Keith claiming third place. The trio filled the same positions in the opening heat, with Keith taking out the second heat from former midget car driver, Mark Morris, with Hawkins in third place. In the Feature for the title Gregge quickly claimed the lead and slowly opened-up a handy lead with Hawkins just managing to hold out Keith by just 0.16 seconds at the chequered flag.

The Cunniffe / Brownlees battled continued in the Quarter Midget class with Jacob Cunniffe again claiming another Feature win after being pressed all the way by Jack Brownlees, with the two racing side by side mid race after Brownlees lead out from the green with Cunniffe finally inching ahead over the closing laps with the South Canterbury teenager adding his first provincial title to his growing racing CV. The two were locked in a battle all evening with Cunniffe claiming the opening heat from Brownlees with the positions then swapping around in the following heat with Malakai Webb claiming third place in all three races with plenty of close racing occurring down the field.

Race Results Sprintcars - Summer Slam Ht 1. Connor Rangi 1, Matt Honeywell 2, Paddy North 3. Ht 2. Jamie Duff 1, Caleb Baughan 2, Martin Harcourt 3. Feature. Duff 1, Harcourt 2, Baughan 3.

Midgetcars - Southern Series Ht 1. Dave Kerr 1, Jack Low 2, Glen Durie 3. Ht 2. Jeremy Webb 1, Kerr 2, Reon Taylor 3. Pole Shuffle. Webb 1, Kerr 2, Glen Milroy 3, Low 4, Durie 5. Feature. Webb 1, Milroy 2, Kerr 3.

Three Quarter Midgets Ht 1. Jeremy Webb 1, Liam McCoubrey 2, Ben Morgan 3. Ht 2. Webb 2, Dylan Bensemann 2, Ben Smith 3. Ht 3. McCoubrey 1, Scott Bailey 2, Rodney Thompson 3. Accessman 20 Lap Southern Derby Feature. Webb 1, McCoubrey 2, Glover 3.

Modified Sprints Ht 1. Daniel Jenkins 1, Kieran Harris 2, Jayden Fraser 3. Ht 2. Jayeden Basalaj 1, Fraser 2, Craig Cox 3. Feature. Basalaj 1, Fraser 2, Jenkins 3.

Six Shooters Ht 1. Andrew Gregge 1, Kirk Hawkins 2, Peter Keith 3. Ht 2. Keith 1, Mark Morris 2, Hawkins 3. Feature. Gregge 1, Hawkins 2, Keith 3.

Quarter Midgets Ht 1. Jacob Cunniffe 1, Jack Brownlees2, Malakai Webb 3. Ht 2. Brownlees 1, Cunniffe 2, Webb 3. Feature. Cunniffe 1, Brownlees 2, Webb 3.

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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