Southland trophy heads to Blenheim

Sam Martin, of Blenheim, won the Southland Production Saloon Championship at X Factor Cars Riverside Speedway on Saturday.
Seventy-five-year-old Maurice McLeod did demonstration laps in his Turbo Super Saloon at X Factor Cars Riverside Speedway on Saturday. Photos: Daryl Shuttleworth

YOU certainly could not question the commitment of Blenheim-based Production Saloon driver Sam Martin

Martin travelled the 860km trip to Invercargill four times last season to compete at the Southland Production Saloon Championship, only for each attempt to be rained off.

Martin was eager to have one crack at the title and the weather gods played their part at X Factor Cars Riverside Speedway on Saturday, handing Martin a hard-fought Southland Champs win.

The format was two heat races which would combine finishing places for a winner-takes-all final.

Martin did not feature in the top three of either heat, but scored enough points to start from the front row of the grid. The final got under way twice both times had first lap incidents meaning full restarts. On the first restart Riverside’s Stephen Clements actually got past Martin to lead the race, but with the race being stopped and restarted, Clements would have to start behind Martin, and he wouldn’t be caught napping twice.

Martin drove well to combat lapped traffic in a big field, while behind him, Clements and Dunedin driver Regan Constable challenged at every opportunity they could.

Even in the dying laps Martin was under fire, knowing one slight mistake would see him fall down the order. The unluckiest driver in the pack was Blake Hamilton, of Riverside, who at one stage grabbed the lead only for mechanical issues to put him out of the race.

Martin eventually took a popular win with the Southland crowd, with Clements second and Constable third.

The Brett Cooper Memorial for Modified Sprints is always a popular event and a strong field of cars lined up to contest it.

Riverside drivers Vaughan Marshall and Jayden Fraser battled up front in race one with Marshall claiming the win. Fraser took the win in race two, leaving the pair tied on points going into the decider. Clubmate Vernon Helms had two solid third placings.

Fraser and Marshall battled hard lap after lap in the final with Fraser gaining an advantage and claiming victory in race three giving him the Brett Cooper Memorial. Marshall was second overall with Helms third. Zac Newsham, also of Riverside, was presented the Brett Cooper best presented team award.

The Six Shooter South Island Series rolled into town and it was dominated by cars from Christchurch. Local drivers seemed to have a day of mechanical dramas that wouldn’t see any of them visit the podium overall.

Race wins went to Ben Smart and Adam Evans, of Cromwell, while Peter Keith, of Christchurch, also took a win. In the winner-takes-all final, it was Smart who claimed victory over Evans with Brian Ellison third.

The last grade racing for trophies was the Youth Saloons which raced a Best Pairs Championship.

The event was a blind draw, so drivers never knew exactly who they were paired with until racing was finished. The winning combination was Dayne Harvey and Kahu Moxham, second Emma Menpes and Josh McIntyre, while Alex Crosbie and Stellar Hamilton placed third.