NZ champs up for grabs

Steve Dryden (33) and Jesse Hamilton (72) will be looking for local support. Photos: Photos: Corbyn Shuttleworth

ONE of the biggest speedway events ever seen in the south will burst into life at The Rock Riverside Speedway tomorrow and Saturday night.

More than 70 of the country’s top streetstock drivers will compete for the Cleanways 2003 Ltd New Zealand Streetstock Championship. It will be the third time the club has held the national title, the last time being in 2005-06.

The class of the field is second to none with the current top three New Zealand drivers – Trevor De Malmanche (number 1), of Rotorua, Matt Peterson (2), of Christchurch, and Chris Shingleton (3), of Rotorua, all entered and either wanting to defend their position or improve on last season’s efforts.

Dan Black (22) takes out Dillon McHattie (10).

Having the numbers 1, 2 or 3 on the car can make you a target in streetstocks and with the likes of former New Zealand championship winners Steve De Malmanche, of Rotorua, and Dave McSherry, of Christchurch, in the entry list, life won’t be easy for anyone.

Other names to watch out for are Brendon Gooch, of Gisborne, who is known for his big hits and has been a front-runner at previous events, Herb Pickering, of Gisborne, who won’t be making the big trip south to make up the numbers, and the likes of Dunedin’s Jareb Verdoner, who has plenty of local knowledge.

Fourteen local drivers are entered and constant front-runners Mark Henderson and Steve Dryden will have plenty of support around them to try and upstage the visiting drivers and claim a title for the Riverside club.

Qualifying takes place tomorrow at 4pm. The cars will be split into four groups and the top six cars over three races will automatically qualify for the New Zealand championship on Saturday, making up 24 of the available 26 spots available.

Mark Henderson will be hoping to collect the flag on Saturday.

The next 26 cars will race repechage races on Saturday with the winners filling the next two spots – and making up the grid for the three-race championship final which starts at 4pm on Saturday.

Those who don’t make it through to the final will race for non-qualifiers, which will provide exciting racing on its own.

The event is one not to be missed, and trying to pick a winner in such an unpredictable grade would be a brave move, but come Saturday night whoever is standing on the top spot of the podium will certainly deserve to be there.

It is a family event and no alcohol will be allowed in the arena.

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