South Island Saloon Series sublime

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Father and son Graham and Scott Williamson battle hard at X Factor Cars Riverside Speedway in Invercargill last weekend. Photo: Corbyn Shuttleworth

A DOUBLE dose of speedway action was exactly what the doctor ordered last weekend and X Factor Cars Riverside Speedway delivered the medicine with two days of action-packed racing last weekend.

The club hosted round three and four of the South Island Saloon Series, a new series which all the best saloon drivers in the South Island had entered. Round one was in Christchurch with the second round being held at Ellesmere.

Going into the weekend, it was Cromwell’s George Phillips who led the series with Riverside’s Graham Williamson a close second and Matt Peterson, of Christchurch, third.

Saturday’s heat races were run with wins to Christchurch youngster Ashton Osborne and Williamson. All the cars would then go into a battle to decide where they would start on the grid for the main race later in the day. Each car would be in a group of four cars, they would do four laps then three more cars would come on track and join the winner while the rest would go to the infield. The driver who won the very last battle would win pole position, this was called the Saloon Scramble.

The series leader would have his day finished early after Williamson spun, collecting the back of Phillips’ car, leaving too much damage to compete in the feature race, which threw the series wide open.

In the feature, both Williamson and Osborne raced away from the pack, the lead changing multiple times throughout the race, bringing the punters to their feet. Williamson led on three occasions but Osborne would not go away, snatching the lead back time and time again, doing enough to get to the finish line first and claiming the round three win, leaving Williamson second with Peterson third.

This would give Williamson a three-point lead going into the final round over Peterson. Sunday’s heat race winners were Phillips, Williamson and Peterson once again. Blair Findlay, of Dunedin, was the surprise package in the Saloon Scramble, fighting off the field to claim pole position for the final.

Phillips would show his dominance in the feature, leading from the green flag despite Williamson putting all sorts of pressure on Phillips on a surface which was hard to pass on. Much like Saturday, Williamson would once again play the bridesmaid, not being able to unsettle Phillips who claimed the win.

The overall series win went to Peterson with Williamson second and Osborne third.

Stockcars held their Southland Championship on Saturday and a large field turned up for a crack at the title.

Dunedin driver Mark Taylor took out race one while his Dunedin clubmate Nico Tuhura would claim victory and the championship in the next two races. Taylor finished second overall ahead of Riverside’s Adam Naber.

Stockcars returned on day two for a Best Pairs Championship and, at the end of three races, it was husband and wife Erwin and Jenna Tree who claimed the top spot on the podium.

Youth Ministocks were a welcome addition to the programme – the field was all Cromwell-based cars Riverside invites each season to race a Southland Championship.

Brodie McDonald claimed his first major championship with Jake Shearing second and defending champion George Hedley third.

Youth Saloons were also racing for the Pits TV Trophy and Riverside was round one. Defending champion Alex Crosbie, of Riverside, claimed the round win with some smart driving to hold off Dunedin duo Kaleb Marshall in second with Zara-lee Tuhura third.

The Interprovincial Production Saloon title was also hosted by Riverside on Saturday, featuring teams from Invercargill, Dunedin and Cromwell. It was a torrid affair with 24 cars racing door handle to door handle to keep fans well entertained.

At the end of three races, it was Dunedin with a handy lead in the series, with Cromwell second with Invercargill needing to play catch up in the next two rounds away from home.

Riverside returns on Tuesday, December 28, with the ILT Fireworks Extravaganza.

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