THE Rock FM Riverside Speedway signed off the season in style on Saturday night with a host of Southland titles up for grabs, teams’ racing, the final of the Southern Bullet Series, a demolition derby and a fireworks display which all left the big crowd buzzing with excitment.
Riverside’s Lloyd Phillips went into the Southland saloon championships as a back-to-back winner and with a switch to super saloons mid-season many thought there would be a new champion crowned. But Phillips decided to roll his saloon out one more time to defend his title.
Phillips dominated the grade with two wins and a second placing to make it three championships in a row – no mean feat considering that each season the competition has got tougher.
Heading into the final, Phillips had a commanding points lead over the field but the battle for second and third was still up for grabs with Cromwell’s Graham Williamson and Dean Shearing tied on points.
Williamson managed to keep Shearing at bay despite a hard charge towards the back end of the race by Shearing to sort out the minor placings – Williamson second and Shearing third overall.
Sprint cars also put the Southland title up for grabs and early signs pointed to Daniel McKinnel being the man to beat, but as the afternoon rolled out it was Kyle Shearing who edged past the competition in the final heats to claim the Southland title. McKinnel was second and Aaron Cleavland, of Cromwell, third.
In the Southern Bullet Cup, Jase McMullin went into the event with a two-point buffer over Raymond Phillips. Phillips got the better of McMullin in heat one but mechanical issues put his car out of race two and he finished in third behind McMullin in race three.
It all came down to the final race, in which Phillips finished well ahead of McMullin to leave them tied for first on points at the end of the four-event series. This meant the championship would be decided on who recorded the best lap time in the race, which handed Phillips the first-ever Southern Bullet Series over McMullin and Vaughn Marshall, who was third in his rookie season.
It was Marshall who got the big crowd on their feet.
Marshall collected the most points for the day so decided to run the Joker, meaning he started from the rear of the field to chase a cash prize rather than start from the front of the grid for points. He would have to race from the back and win to claim the prize, another first for the series. Marshall weaved his way through the classy field and got into a battle with Kevin Fulton, the race leader with a lap to run. Fulton made contact with a back marker and this allowed Marshall through to win the race and the day overall.
In teams’ racing, Southland took apart their Otago counterparts with the Riverside Raiders street stocks team dominant over the Beachlands Bulldogs and the Southland Spartans stockcar team too good for the Otago Outlaws.
In support races, Kerry Dickson won two from two in super saloons, Asha Clements won the sole production saloon race, Jayden Fraser and Raymond Phillips had a win each in Six Shooters while Zane Tuhura won both youth saloon races in his final outing in the grade.