Riverside finally gets day in the sun

Back-to-back South Island Streetstock Championship Benji Smaill, of Dunedin. Photo: Corbyn Shuttleworth

TENSIONS were high at X Factor Cars Riverside Speedway last weekend as the Auto Parts Invercargill/Powderline South Island Streetstock Championship rolled into town for what was scheduled to be a two-day meeting.

Heavy rain washed out any chance of qualifying on Friday, while Saturday’s attempt fell short of the mark with rain putting an end to the event without a wheel even turning.

The decision was made to reschedule and have one last crack at completing the championship on Sunday.

Had it rained, it would have been the sixth rain-out so far this season, and while rain did threaten, the club managed to get the meeting through, much to the delight of the competitors, the club and the fans.

While a few of the drivers chose to leave after Saturday night’s rain-out, 26 cars lined up on the grid on Sunday for what could only be described as a brutal affair.

Race one saw local hopeful Steve Dryden take a well thought-out win, staying away from trouble to bag maximum points ahead of reigning South Island champion Benji Smaill, of Dunedin, and Andrew Watson, of Riverside.

Race two looked to be Dryden’s for the taking also. With a front row start, the Southland champion was always going to be tough to beat, but he made contact with a lapped car handing the win over to Watson who won ahead of Dryden, with Jesse Helm, of Dunedin, third.

The final race was a torrid affair – 18 cars lined up, with only eight finishing, with the Dunedin drivers putting on a well thought-out plan to eliminate the Riverside cars and protect their own.

First of all, Watson was eliminated after being hit and receiving major damage.

Other Riverside drivers high on points, Troy Dryden and Jesse Stevens were also dealt to.

All the while, Smaill drove around untouched.

It was clever and entertaining from the Dunedin drivers and left Riverside’s dreams in tatters.

Darrell Richards finished race three in first, with Smaill second and Riverside’s Chris Kergozou third.

The action wasn’t done there, with multiple protests coming in for a multitude of incidents.

The officials had to deal with them one by one, in the end coming up with decisions which didn’t please everyone, but presented a result.

Smaill became the first streetstock driver in more than 15 years to win back-to-back South Island championships.

Shya McHardy, of Dunedin, was second, with Kergozou taking the last step on the podium, in third.

Other championships run on the day were the Rod McLaren Memorial for saloons which was won by Cromwell’s Raymond Phillips, Dunedin’s Ben Finlayson won the Ronnie Tree Memorial for stockcars, but best stirrer went to his clubmate Luke Fallows.

Production saloons raced for best pairs and it was the Riverside pairing of Aaron Reed and Blake Murdoch who prevailed, while the youth saloon best pairs was won by Riverside driver Josh Livingstone with his partner Savanna Simon taking the silverware.

The team at Riverside will now take a well-deserved break before returning to the track on January 17.Running sport mediaNike Air Force 1 High