WOW RECOMMENCES AT 'PADDY'S PATCH
Who would have thought that the most recent round of the Hydraulink War of the Wings Sprintcar Series
would have been a long ten months ago, but that’s the reality of it all as the drivers prepare to enter the
final stages of the 2019-20 campaign at Blenheim’s Eastern States Speedway this Friday night (Nov 27).
Series points leader Jamie “Duffman” Duff goes into the final three rounds with a slender seven point
lead over fellow Christchurch driver Caleb Baughan but there are no fewer than six drivers who can leap
to the top of the table should Duff or Baughan strike problems at Blenheim. Duff has been in scintillating
form this summer winning both feature races at Ruapuna but he and his team are taking no chances and
have given the car a thorough going over. Duff knows that he can’t afford to ‘drop the ball’ at this stage of
the series which pays out in excess of $70,000 in prize and travel incentives. “Blenheim is a track that you
have to approach differently to any other track in the country. It’s long fast straights with slightly tighter
corners makes it possibly the fastest track in the country,” said the former national champion and defending
series title holder. “There is little margin for error but we are really looking forward to putting on a show.”
Local Blenheim driver Paddy North sits in tenth place in series standings but he is well aware that a good
showing in front of his home crowd will put him right back into series contention. North is fresh off a couple
of tough races at Ruapuna and his most recent showing there showed that he is very capable of holding his
own, particularly if the track gets a little slick. The highly rated Super Saloon competitor has in recent times
shown that he has mastered the 850 horsepower Sprintcars and will go into the race with plenty of confidence.
Apart from North other drivers who are likely to be able to cash in on ‘local’ support are the Nelson contingent
of Alicia Hill, Connor Rangi, Brett Sullivan and ‘Slammin’ Sam O’Callaghan who drives for Nelson owner
Kevin Freeman. Sullivan will certainly be one to watch having spent the last two seasons racing in Australia.
BAUGHAN DRAWS FIRST WoW BLOOD AT RUAPUNA
Third generation racer Caleb Baughan put up an impressive drive to win the R.A Shearing Contractors sponsored Hydraulink War of the Wings feature. Paddy North continued his great run to finish second with Daniel Anderson third. Defending Hydraulink WoW champion Jamie Duff set quick time, while Sam O'Callaghan set the fastest time of the night on his way to victory in the first heat, and claimed the OEM Audio bonus. Heat race wins went to O'Callaghan, North and Anderson
17 cars hit the track for time trials
Time Trials - Top 10: Jamie Duff 13.6228 seconds 1, Daniel Anderson 13.7898 2, Allan Chapman 13.9039 3, Sam O'Callaghan 13.9456 4, Ray Baughan 14.0552 5, Martin Harcourt 14.0727 6, Shaun Ashton 14.1137 7, Ben Gilmore 14.2053 8, Matt Honeywell 14.2187 9, Andy Erskine 14.2944 10.
Ht 1. O'Callaghan 1, Honeywell 2, Ashton 3.
Ht 2. Anderson 1, Duff 2, Gilmore 3.
Ht 3. Paddy North 1, Chapman 2, O'Callaghan 3.
Feature. Caleb Baughan 1, North 2, Anderson 3,
Series Points after 2 rounds (Round 1 washed out)
Caleb Baughan,100,1: Paddy North,97,2: Daniel Anderson,90,3: Jamie Duff,87,4: Ben Gilmore,87,4=:Shaun Ashton,77,6: Martin Harcourt,72,7: Matt Honeywell,70,8: Sam O'Callaghan,60,9: Allan Chapman,55,10: Alicia Hill,50,11: Gene Spooner,47,12: Jacob Brownlees,40,13: Nathan Roberts,38,14: Ray Baughan,30,15: Nigel Colvin,25,16: Andy Erskine,20,17:
Rain was the winner of round 1 of the Hydraulink War of the Wings when track officials had to make an inevitable decision to cancel their meeting due to heavy rain, and a bleak forecast.
WoW officials are working on a 'make up' date.
The lineup- Round 1- Hydraulink War of the Wings Nelson 16 November 2019
6N Alicia Hill
08C Nathan Roberts
10C Nathan Astle
19C Jamie Duff
23C Jacob Brownlees
28P Tony Uhlenberg
37C Gene Spooner
44C Allan Chapman
44T Daniel Anderson
46E Paddy North
59C Caleb Baughan
64C Matt Honeywell
75N Sam O'Callaghan
83N Greg Teece
95C Ray Baughan
2019-20 Hydraulink War of the Wings Calendar
this is how our Calendar looks
Round 1 November 16 Top of the South Speedway,Nelson
Round 2 December 14 Racecourse Hotel & Motorlodge Ruapuna Speedway, ChCh
Round 3 February 1 Greenstone park speedway, Greymouth
Round 4 March 27 Eastern states Speedway, Blenheim
Round 5 March 28 Top of the South Speedway, Nelson
Round 6 April 4 Racecourse Hotel & Motorlodge Ruapuna speedway, ChCh
Round 7 April 10 Central Motor Speedway, Cromwell
DUFFMAN DOES TRIPLE
Jamie Duff secured his third consecutive Hydraulink War of the Wings crown by a narrow margin after nursing his badly damaged car home into fourth place at Cromwell on Friday night. Duff hit the wall on the eighth lap of the 25 lap journey and at one stage had slipped six spots behind arch-rival Connor Rangi, but Duff managed to clawhis way back through the field to finish fourth behind race winner Sam O'Callaghan, Matt Honeywell and Rangi. For Rangi to win the series, he needed to beat Duff by seven placings. Oh so close!!
2018-19 FINAL POINTS HYDRAULINK WAR OF THE WINGS
Jamie Duff,915,1: Connor Rangi,884,2: Sam O'Callaghan,818,3: Matt honeywell,734,4: Daniel Anderson,679,5: Nathan Astle,573,6: Alicia McLauchlan, 504,7: Caleb Baughan,492,8: Paddy North,436,9: Jason Scott,421,10: Ray baughan,395,11: Jayden Dodge,377,12: Luke Keegan,372,13: Nigel Colvin,369,14:Steve Duff,354,15:Martin Harcourt,287,16: Mathew Anderson,275,17:Shaun Ashton,285,18: Ross McKinnel,204.19:Mark Evans,123,20: Greg Teece,98,21: Andy Erskine,63,22: Jason Manson,60,23:Nathan Roberts,58,24: Daniel McKinnel,57,25: Luke Wederall,55,26: Jason Smith,40,27:Whetu Taewa,37,28: Mathew Leversedge,30,29: Buddy Kofoid,11,30:Kyle Shearing,10,31:
DUFF'S DOWN SOUTH DOUBLE
The annual 'Southern tour' to Dunedin and Invercargill is always eagerly anticipated by the Hydraulink War of the Wings Series end last weekend it was again a pleasure to race at the worlds two southern most Sprintcar venues- Riverside raceway in Invercargill, and Beachlands in Dunedin.
Invercargill was first up and despite a 4PM start time on a Friday afternoon there was a good turn out of spectators on hand to witness the action.
Cromwell's 'Slammin' Sam O'Callaghan set the tone for the meeting setting the fastest time in qualifying, and also doing the fastest ever lap in the tracks 42 year history.
The competitive nature of the Hydraulink War of the Wings series came through with Paddy North (Blenheim) and Nigel Colvin (Winton) winning their maiden WoW heat races. jamie Duff won the other heat.
Duff, the defending Hydraulink War of the Wings Champion also took out the feature heading home Matt Honeywell (Ashburton) and O'Callaghan. Connor rangi was fourth , and Te Anaus Daniel anderson fifth.
A quick trip up to Dunedin for the Saturday night show had a big crowd on hand, braving a brisk breeze blowing in off the Pacific. the upside of the breeze was that there were plenty of Hydraulink war of the Wings hoodies being snapped up from the WoW Merchandise tent!
Duff kept up his fine showing, setting the fastest qualifying time. Heat wins went to Duff, Connor Rangi (Nelson) and Honeywell.
The feature race was one for the ages with Duff and Honeywell scrapping it out at the head of the field but most eyes were on the battle for third and fourth between former Black Caps cricketer Nathan Astle, and Rangi who had started eighth on the grid.
These two traded positions frequently during the 25 lap feature race, with Rangi eventually prevailing, with Astle having to settle for fourth, and Nelson's Alicia McLauchlan fifth.
The Hydraulink war of the Wings head to Nelson for the penultimate round this Saturday night- April 6.
The rise of Connor Rangi through the sprintcar ranks has
been spectacular with the 19 year old defying almost
everything, to be one of the front runners in the
Hydraulink war of the Wings.
Rangi was one of the standout performers in the Youth
Mini Stock class at Nelson but a visit to Ruapuna in 2016
proved to be ‘a career changing’ weekend.
Connor’s father Andrew picks up the story.
“We knew absolutely nothing about Sprintcars, but loved
what we saw. Jamie Larsen tearing up the top side of
the track sold us! We knew Kevin Freeman and had a
yack with him. I think he was a bit sceptical but he gave
Connor a skid in his car one night at Nelson. That was
The planets started aligning when Steve Sullivan put
his cars on the market.
Andrew recalls that it was “ a hell of a commitment. In fact it was a little scary but its what we wanted to do.”
Connor proved to be super competitive ‘straight off the trailer’, finishing second in the 2017-18 Hydraulink War of the Wings after taking the points race right through to the final round.
“We were disappointed that we didn’t win but to finish second to Jamie Duff is nothing to be too ashamed of.”
More satisfying was qualifying second at this season’s national Sprintcar Championship at Cromwell in what elevated Connors reputation on the kiwi scene.
“ I don’t think too many northerners knew much about us, but it didn’t worry us a bit. We try to make the best with what we have and I know a few sort of chuckled when they saw us pulling in with an open trailer and all our gear tied onto the ute. It’s what we have, and it works for us. If I had a spare twenty grand I’m not likely to put it into a trailer!”
Keeping the overheads down is an important part of staying on the track and Andrew is grateful for the help given by many.
“Greg Hiddleston built our engine. It’s a Dash 12. Nothing fancy but it goes good. He looks after us. Steve Duff and Kevin Freeman have been amazingly helpful. In fact that’s what we love about the class, and the Hydraulink War of the Wings series. Everyone chips in and helps where they can. Landon Dawson from The Collision Centre is our main sponsor and keeps us going. Greg Teece from GTR Developments has given us his latest electronic bleeders to use. Vertex Oil supply our oils and lubes, Cromwell Motels look after us when we are are down there. A good mate John Blokker from Blenheim has followed Connor since the Youth Mini Stock days, and Kris Jemmett chips in as well.”
The time commitment in keeping a car going is something that Andrew under estimated but hes grateful for all the help he gets.
“Connor lives and works in Christchurch so I’m really appreciative of the help that I get from my brother Dave, my nephew Tyler. Sophie (whos Sophie?)helps on the crew as do Connors good mate Kohu and his girlfriend Zoe. We’ve still got a lot to learn with car set ups. We are happy with our lot and you have to make do with what you have. At the moment that works for us and Connor is still learning the game so we don’t actually need more than what we have.”
Connor’s win in the fifth round of the Hydraulink War of the Wings at Ruapuna has given them a taste and its something that motivates the team.
“Connors really hard on himself if he makes a mistake. In reality we let a couple of feature wins go last season. We love doing the Hydraulink War of the Wings. The comraderie and fellowship is exceptional. You can’t afford to be a one track expert and I feel that makes the South Island boys really adaptable.”
One thing is for sure. The Connor Rangi story has only just began!
Its been an interesting path that Shaun Ashton has taken on his way to Sprintcars but its one that he has few regrets about.
Shaun's first real involvement in motor sport came through co-driving in rally sprints when he was around 14 years of age, and then when his sister Tania started working for Lovelady Racecars, an urge to go speedway racing was fuelled.
"I really liked those winged Modifieds, but chose to hit the track in a Mini Stock during the 2000 season. After six months in that I moved up into the Modified and had a blast, racing on and off for something like ten years. I then a a brief go at Stockcars before we 'moved across town' to race a Six Shooter at Ruapuna. After a couple of summers in that my wife Rach reckoned it was time to go fast again. I dabbled with the idea of Modifieds, Super saloons, Midgets or sprintcars and left the final decision to our daughter Courtney. The rest is history as she picked 'Sprintcars'!"
A visit to Edge Parts and Performance and a super sharp Jason Scott deal saw a XXX chassied car purchased and a change in 'direction' for Shaun and his team.
It didn't take Shaun too long to come to grips with the Sprintcar, and results slowly came his way, but two stand out- the 2016-17 New Zealand Sprintcar Championship, and the Salute to Goodie, that same season.
" I started off the back in the nationals, and we ended up something like sixth. It was a real thrill to race in that event. The traditional Salute to Goodie race is always something that each of the drivers wants to lock away. To win that was a great feeling."
One thing that really comes through in talking to Shaun is the deep connection between his family and racing.
"Mum and Dad are at nearly every meeting. They've been really supportive, regardless of the class I race in, or the track. They just love watching. My sister Tania runs my office, and keeps an eye on the race budget. Tania is a big part of the team. Rach (wife) is just so supportive. She really pushes the team to continually 'do better', and Courtney just keeps me smiling but she lets me know when the car gets damaged!"
A great team provide valuable support, and former national Modified Champion Natasha Rodgers, who was a rival of Shaun's back in the Modified days is able to provide plenty of assistance with tactics and car set up.
"I can't speak highly enough of Tash. She used to kick my butt regularly as a Modified racer . She's been a great friend of our family for years. It's awesome to have someone in the team who understands what I'm saying about the car and the track. We throw a lot of ideas at each other, and while we are still learning about Sprintcars, we do get it right....occasionally!"
"Aaron Cook is a long serving team member. He came on board around my third season in Modifieds. Brad Benson has been around Speedway and Sprintcars for a long time and he just kind of turned up one night a couple of seasons back and has stayed. We've also got young Josh Froom, a mate of Brad's who joined up last Christmas. He's super keen, and learning heaps along the way. Greg Hiddleston has been a great helper and very supportive while Jason Scott and his team at Edge do so much for the class. I don't think Sprintcars would be what they are in the South Island without those guys."
Shaun is also really appreciative of his sponsors- Complete Automotive, A One Auto Parts, Lubricants NZ through their Vertex and Elf brands, VINZ- Vehicle Inspections New Zealand, and Nathan Roberts at DS Collision who look after the paint and panel stuff.
"Reon and Murray at A One have been with us for several years now, and they are both big fans of Sprintcars. Murray (Stead) raced them for a while and Reon (Taylor) was a national Modified Sprint champion."
For this season a XXX chassis will again be put to use along with a dash 12 410 and Shaun has set a good showing at the national championship as his primary focus, but that will feed off a solid campaign in the Hydraulink War of the Wings.
" The War of the Wings is hugely beneficial on so many fronts. Its got great competitor support, races at good venues, and really aligns with my belief that family is number one. The competitors all get on well, the likes of Almo (Alastair Kelso), Liz and Sarah Benson put so much into it. They get a bit of shit every night from someone but they just smile, and move on. They, and the other series officials are always there to help you out, and they love it. Everyone involved in the War of the Wings is like a big family. The competitive nature of the racing is right up there too, and it has certainly lifted the level of racing in the South Island. I remember when I raced Modifieds a field of 8-10 Sprintcars was about as good as it got. Now look at it. There's consistently over 20 of them in the pits. We all race hard, you learn who you can go wheel to wheel with and it produces brilliant racing for the crowds, as well as the drivers and their teams and families. All said and done we all want to have a bit of fun too while putting on a show."
This summer Shaun faces a schedule of over twenty shows, and is hopeful of making as many as he can but you get the feeling, that here's a racer who see's that the biggest win that you can get from racing is mixing the hard yards on and off the track with family and friends...as long as its fun for everyone.
MANSONS LEAP OF FAITH
One of the surprise packages in the past summer’s Hydraulink War of the Wings Series was rookie driver Jason Manson who the plunge and moved his allegiance from the wingless Six Shooters to being a Sprintcar racer.
Why would someone who was a dominant force in one class throw themselves into the lions den, walking a tight rope with a shoestring budget and knowing little about the ins and outs of the 750 plus horsepower?
“Its simple. I guess after sitting in the stands over the years dreaming of driving one everything fell in place so. I thought you only live once and what an experience it would be. I wasn’t wrong!!”
The challenge of changing classes wasn’t as daunting as he first anticipated although the sheer speed and power of the Sprintcars came as a shock- which he had expected but it was more the influence that the wing has on the cars.
“I struggled a bit with the wing. Where I turned in the six shooter for the corner, the winged car was totally different. I found myself with 4 wheels over the pole line a bit at the start of the season. It’s amazing what those wings do! The other thing I noticed is the importance of a good set up crew member. You could be the best driver but without setup your nothing!”
There was an element of frustration evident in those early meetings and Jason wondered just how far his budget would stretch.
“ I had to stay in the budget. Period. The team was very lucky. We managed to run 18 meetings with no damage which was great and meant we could run so many shows. A couple of crashes could have quickly changed that! To be fair it definitely is a big boys game. The money we spent with no damage was still incredible after years of Six Shooters but we don’t regret it one bit.”
Although Jason acquitted himself well, there were a couple of times that he wondered if he belonged in the class.
“The racers and teams were brilliant. Some of the more established teams were only too happy to help out with spares and advise to help me out. Daniel Anderson and XLR8 team (Jason Smith) were a massive help to us. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I had a bit of self doubt. I was just about throwing up with nerves when I drew grid 1the first time I graduated to starting in the field. I knew that I had to keep it straight. I didn’t want to cause anyone problems. Later in the season at the Gold Cup I got a bit loose in front of one guy who had been such a big help. He rode my wheel and had the biggest crash of his career. I went home that night questioning whether I belonged in the class. The next night I had a couple of starts near the front of the field and had two race wins. Talk about a confidence booster!”
Although the travel factor involved in running the War of the Wings forms a big part of the budget Jason says that the travel is a highlight, and feature of the series.
“Strangely the highlight of the series was the trip to Nelson and Blenheim. Nelson was washed out so the double header became a Sunday afternoon show at Blenheim. We were all focussed on getting the show over so that we got through the earthquake ravished Kaikoura road before it closed for the night traffic. We have a family orientated team and the time together was great. It was stinking hot in Blenheim. The crew had the best set up for conditions that day for a super slick track. We had our best grid position for a feature. We were running 5thwhen the white flag dropped I was stoked thinking id have my best finish to date but the dry slick track took its toll on the right rear and coming out of turn 1&2 the tyre blew . I was absolutely gutted. But that’s a memory that stuck in my mind and will for plenty of time to come. The travel to other tracks is a bit of a challenge. I’d only raced at Ruapuna and Cromwell so I knew little about the other tracks. We struggled a bit at places I’d never seen before, but I have to say that I feel really comfortable at Ruapuna. It’s my home track so I have a bit more confidence there.”
Jason is grateful for the support of his crew, family and sponsors and realises that hes not likely to have a long career in the Sprintcars but has absolutely no regrets in enjoying it while he can.
“I had some backing that got us through our first season. Without Pringle homes, NZHL , A Team electrical , Jemmett’s Power Tool Service , Abel Built , Chemz , Green fuels , Target pest , Rylock , Thomahawk Plastering , Edge glazing , Brennan tiling I just couldn’t even think about giving it a go. We leased a car off Greg Hiddleston for the season. This worked great for us. Greg is very passionate towards this class and is a bloody top bloke. My crew of Dad , Rodney , Chris, Jay , Chris , Jason , Jonny , Jacko made it worth the effort. We all had so much fun and I can’t say enough about all of the Hydraulink War of the Wings drivers and personnel who really make the new boys feel so welcome.”
What advise does Jason have for drivers from other classes looking at stepping into the Sprintcars. “Do it. Make sure you have a good budget but you only live once.”
DUFF DELIVERS KILLER BLOW
Defending Hydraulink War of the Wings Champion Jamie Duff proved again that he is the dominant force on the southern Sprintcar stage when he won an action packed Grand Final at Central Motor Speedway Cromwell, and in doing so retained his crown.He had to work hard for it but at all times appeared to have a little left in the tank.
Duffs main challenger for overall honours 17 year old Connor Rangi can hold his head high in finishing second overall but he simply couldn't gain ground on Duff.Daniel Anderson got the night off to a great start in setting the fastest time in qualifying with a sizzling lap that stopped the clock at 13.5324 seconds.
The feature proved to be a worthy finale to what has been an enthralling season of racing and one could be forgiven if they thought that the entire prizepool of $130,000 was being paid out on the one race...yes, it really was that good!
Sam O'Callaghan may just have picked himself up a regular ride in the Freeman Motorsport car after his solid performance that had him starting off the front row beside Duff, and he made the most of that, leading the first two thirds of the race, but you sensed that Duff was just waiting for his opportunity.. With eight laps to go Duff hit the front and went on to take the chequered flag for the win from O'Callaghan with Jayden Dodge third. Connor Rangi and Kyle Shearing rounded out the top five. but thats only part of the story. At one stage Matt Honeywell was running wheel to wheel with Duff and O'Callaghan and looked like he had 'a plan' but when he drifted a little wide that let several others through and Honeywells one shot at it was gone. Dodge had started off grid eleven and he was on a mission. The battle that raged between Dodge and Rangi showed that the 'young Lions' of Sprintcar racing in the South are ready to roar. The performance of Shearing and Ray Baughan was heartening- two gnarly racers who just get stuck in...and they did! Another noteworthy effort went on behind the scenes when Jason Smith's crew with plenty of support from other teams changed engines between the last heat and the B Main. One can't help but have some sympathy for Luke Keegan, the 'nearly' man of the War of the Wings'. Keegan has come to the class after an amazing career in Modifieds and is still to take a feature win. He has set quick time at several races and had numerous wins in heat races as well as plenty of podium finishes. Keegan's time will come and he showes enough flashes of brilliance and raw talent that should have the other teams worried. Heat race wins went to Duff, Ray Baughan, Caleb Baughan (his first in WoW competition)and O'Callaghan. It was a fitting final race for the series, that is most appropriately named " The WAR of the Wings'.
DUFFS DOMINATION HAS RIVALS IN A SPIN
Jamie Duffs run of feature wins on this summers Hydraulink War of the Wings campaign is stretching to biblical proportions with his sixth win from nine races being stamped in the record books last Saturday night at Ruapuna. Duffs night got off to a bad start when he dropped valuable points in spinning out during time trials. His closest rival Connor Rangi set quick time with a sizzling 13.0581. Heat race action came thick and fast with wins to Allan Chapman, Jason Smith, Duff and Hayden McKay while Paddy North led the BMain transferee list. By virtue of a third place as well in the heats Duff was top qualifier while Rangi was a few spots back on the grid with a couple of sixth places. From the throwing of the green flag Duff lead the way, surviving early challenges from Luke Keegan and Matt Honeywell but his speed through the lapped traffic proved to be the difference with a three second lead in his back pocket at one stage. With a handful of laps to go a timely yellow bunched them up giving fresh hope to Duffs opponents but on the run home his experience showed through and he took the chequered flag ahead of Honeywell with Daniel Anderson, Matt Anderson and Rangi rounding out the top five. The Hydraulink War of the Wings concludes on March 31 at Cromwell with a Duff, Rangi, Daniel Anderson and Keegan all in with a mathematical chance of taking out overall series honours.
DUFF JNR TAKES 'DUNNERS' WOW
The tight nature of the Hydraulink War of the Wings came into play again with a tough battle being fought out at Dunedins Beachlands Speedway for round 9.
Steve Duff who came off the back of three dnf’s at Riverside the night before, completely turned around his fortunes to post the feature win but it didn’t come easy.
Duff had started on the front row alongside veteran Brent Gaudion and took an early lead but it wasn’t long before Daniel Anderson starting to apply the pressure. In traffic Anderson got his nose in front and looked headed for victory however with little more than a handful of laps to go he pulled his car onto the infield with a trail of oil left on the track.
At the restart Duff again took control but Connor Rangi and Luke Keegan made things decidedly uncomfortable for him over the closing stages of the race. Jason Scott finished fourth while Paddy North had his best result in a WoW feature to round out the top five.
Anderson’s withdrawal could impact on his series hopes as he has drifted behind the new points leader Jamie Duff, who has a 24 point advantage over Rangi while Luke Keegan is still very much in contention.
Heat race wins went to Steve Duff, Sam O’Callaghan, Brent Gaudion and Jason Scott while Luke Keegan was the fastest qualifier.
The Hydraulink War of the Wings returns to action at Ruapuna on March 10.
Rangi Wins The Battle, But Duff Wins The War
By Daryl Shuttleworth
The Rock FM Riverside Speedway hosted the Eighth Round of the Hydraulink War Of The Wings, and for the second week running adverse weather played its part threatening to cause a wash out, but the weather Gods played their part and helped produce a great night of high horse power action.
Club members spent hours throughout the day packing the track, driving water from it to produce the best surface possible to run this event on, and the talented War Of The Wings competitors didnt disappoint.
Heading into this round it was Nelson's Connor Rangi who held a slender points lead over Jamie Duff of Christchurch and as the night went on the two would do battle till the bitter end.
In the time trials it was Duff who produced the top time scorching around the Riverside arena with a time of 13.6810, followed closely by Cromwell's Daniel Anderson and Steve Duff Jnr of Christchurch third.
Heat one was packed with action aplenty, Steve Duff collected the wall coming out of turn four bringing out a caution, this caused a domino effect with Jamie Duff suffering mechanical issues putting both Duffs on the infield. Next lap it was Jason "Showtime" Smith that rubbed wheels with Nelson club mate Alicia McLauchlan causing him to flip coming out of turn two, the "Slammin" Sam O'Callaghan hit the wall at speed to add to the carnage. As the race proceeded it was Mathew Anderson of Cromwell who took the race win from Hawkes Bay drive Mark Alexander and Cromwell's Aaron Cleveland third.
Heat two was polar opposite to race one with no cautions and some great wheel to wheel battles happening throughout the entire heat. Luke Keegan of Christchurch who is currently third in the series looked sharp, driving away from the pack to bank valuable points, second was series leader Rangi and Daniel Anderson of Cromwell third.
Race three was time for Jamie Duff to make amends for a DNF in race one, the former National champion showed his class by finding a line up high and coming from eighth on the grid to post a race win. He did however have an anxious moment with two laps to run when Cleveland spun almost a lap down presenting his car sideways to Duff as he sped around turns one and two. At the restart Duff would take the chequered ahead of Shaun Ashton of Christchurch and Mathew Anderson third.
The fourth and final heat saw O'Callaghan spin early this led to a tangle up between Rangi, Blenheim's Paddy North and Ross Troughton of Nelson, at the restart Cromwell's Andy Erskine who started from pole got down to business, chipping away lap by lap to produce a handy lead over the field to take a race win, Smith who had rolled earlier repayed his crew with a solid second placing and Jason Manson of Christchurch stormed home third.
Series leader Rangi had done enough throughout the heat races to earn a spot on the front row of the grid for the twenty five lap feature final, he was joined on the front row by Mathew Anderson who was a heat winner and certainly looked to be the man to beat.
Defending Series Champion Jamie Duff would start from sixth on the grid.
In the final it was Anderson who got off to a solid start stretching the legs early only to be bought back to the pack with local driver Daniel McKinnel spinning while making light contact with Cromwells Aaron Cleavland, this put Cleavland out while McKinnel rejoined the pack.
At the restart it was Rangi the series leader who got the jump and Duff who sat on his back wheel for a number of laps, Duff was impressive up on the high line, at one stage looking like he would make the pass but once again a yellow flag bought the pack back together stopping Duffs momentum. This time the restart was once again a benefit to Rangi who stormed off to a handy lead, Duff fought hard once again only to be held up by lapped traffic, this handed the race win to Rangi with Duff second and Cromwells Daniel Anderson winning a tense battle for third.
Controversy would follow and these results would soon be overturned by the officials with Rangi deemed to have run over the poleline handing the race win to Duff, Anderson second and Christchurch driver Allan Chapman third while Rangi was relegated to fourth place.
DUFF DOMINATES 'DRY' EASTERN STATES
Christchurch Sprintcar racer Jamie Duff continued his domination of the Hydraulink War of the Wings series, with another victory at Blenheim today. This was his fourth successive win in the eleven race series.
Duff was the top qualifier following the heat races with two second placings and led the feature , which was shortened due to the heat and excessive tyre wear for much of the 20 lap journey.
Fellow Christchurch drivers Shaun Ashton and Ray Baughan finished second and third with several drivers being forced out during the race due to tyre issues.
Cromwells Kyle Shearing set the fastest qualifying time, and heat race wins went to Baughan, Connor rangi, Daniel Anderson and Ashton.
The series now takes a five week break making its return to Invercargill on Friday February 23.
RAIN THE BIG WINNER AT NELSON
Heavy rain, as had been forecast all week arrived and washed out the 6th Round of the Hydraulink War of the Wings Series. Organisers hope to schedule a round for later in the season.
DUFF'S GOLDEN RUN CONTINUES
The annual excursion to Cromwell for the New Years round of the Hydraulink War of the Wings Series is always one that the teams look forward to as a chance to enjoy the festive season, kick back with friends and family , lap up the central sun and go racing.
This year was no exception with 21 drivers entered and as always the Cromwell track crew had worked hard to provide a racey track despite the stifling heat that can be present.
Their task was made a little easier with low cloud cover, but strong winds kept everyone on their toes.
Luke Keegan was second car out to face the clock in the time trials and his fastest lap time of 13.2261 set a standard that couldn’t be matched and it gave the series points leader a good springboard to launch his nights racing from.
Sam O’Callaghan and Daniel Anderson set the tone for the night with a ding-dong battle in the first heat. They ‘checked out’ on the rest of the field with Anderson applying plenty of pressure, but O’Callaghan never put a foot wrong, until they encountered lapped traffic. O’Callaghan hesitated momentarily and the far more experienced Anderson pounced, and went on to head O’Callaghan and Steve Duff across the line.
One of the quiet achievers of the series is Shaun Ashton and he showed that he can’t be underestimated by his opponents when he got a great start to heat two. Ashton seemed to be pulling away from the field while behind him Matt Anderson and Jamie Duff were slugging it out for the next two spots. Duff eventually prevailed in that battle and set about hunting down Ashton. In the mean time Connor Rangi started to work Anderson over, eventually moving into third spot. As the laps counted down Duff ‘applied the blow torch’ on Ashton and he had one chance to get his nose in front- and he took it, going on to win from Ashton with Matt Anderson regaining third spot late in the race.
Frustration was evident in the third heat with several aborted starts. No one was penalised and when the green flag finally flew- ironically for a start that was untidier than the rest, veteran Brent Gaudion showed everyone that ‘the old dog can still bark loud’, setting a cracking pace at the head of the pack. ‘Showtime’ Jason Smith was at his spectacular best, and tailed Gaudion for the first six laps before he saw a tiny gap open and muscled his way through for a popular win, with Gaudion hanging on for second with Kris ‘The Flash’ Gerard hanging on for third, but only just from a fast finishing Connor Rangi. Luke Keegan was unusually ‘sedate’ and was unable to advance at all from his grid nine starting spot.
The final heat was living proof that ‘never give a sucker a chance’ and Kyle Shearing made mince meat out of them from a front row start. Shearing ran away and hid from the field, but maybe the battle of the night was being waged behind him between ‘The Captain’ Jason Scott and Jamie Duff.
Its fair to say that Scott has had a frustrating season to date so a new car was assembled to see if that was going to change anything and for all money it appeared as though he was ‘back on track’. Duff however has been in rampant form, and had worked his way through from grid eight. Every tick in the book was tried but Duff simply couldn’t get by Scott and had to settle for third place.
With the clock racing towards the curfew what was need to get the feature in was a good clean run and just a hundred meters or so past the point that the nights leading lap scorer Jamie Duff had paced the field to the green flag a multi car crash down the back straight saw Gerard invert his car, rolling several times. Half the field was caught up in the carnage and once the dust had settled six cars sat on the infield unable to front for the restart.
Duff was in no mood to let this one slip away, and when the green lights came on he continued on his way. Jason Smith got close several times but each time he did, Duff found a little bit more. As Duff headed off into the dust, Smith had to contend with O’Callaghan, one of the rising stars of the series and the youngster eventually pulled off a copybook move that put him up into second. As the clock, and the laps counted down Duff had one ‘moment’ when he encountered the spinning Todd Richards car. Light contact was made and all knowledgeable eyes were diverted to see if Duff had suffered any damage. A couple of laps later Jason Scott got upside down when he clipped the wall. The red light came on and the call was made to shave some laps off the planned 25 lap journey.
With laps and time running out Duff made no race of it, simply pulling away to claim his third consecutive WoW win for the season, despite his car having a tweaked Jacobs ladder from that mid race contact. Sam O’Callaghan crossed the line in second while Jason Smith celebrated his best showing in a long time by grabbing third place , and his first Hydraulink War of the Wings podium spot.
Nelson Speedway is the next ‘battle ground’ where the Hydraulink War of the Wings will ‘duke it out’ on January 13.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE DIRT KIND AT RUAPUNA
No one really knew what to expect as the Hydraulink War of the Wings Series rattled back into the pits at Racecourse Hotel and Motor Lodge Ruapuna Speedway with 28 cars lined up in the pits, the thermometer nudging 30 and a wind picking up across the Canterbury plains. Maybe its just as well that Speedway water truck drivers don't need to fill out log books because they'd burned the midnight oil through the week in an attempt at getting some moisture into the arid oval. In the main, they succeeded.
Earlier pessimism that it would be a dust bowl from the get-go came to nothing with the track proving to be racy up on the highline, and certainly operable down low.
The twenty eight cars took to the clock, and while a couple of the boys who drew low numbers 'fired blanks' it was quickly obvious that the track was coming round. The top seven times were all in the 13 second bracket and it was Matt Honeywell who claimed his second 'Quick Time' of the season.
The heat racing held under the blazing sun showed that the Duff brothers- Stephen Junior and Jamie were going to take some beating with Junior going unbeaten, while Jamie notched up two seconds. Connor Rangi and Daniel Anderson were the other heat winners.
There were a few big names in the B Main and despite its tag as 'The dance of the desperate' the 12 lapper was a clean cut affair. Eight drivers transferred to the feature, but missing from the transferees was Jason Scott who had an inconsistent run.
Going into the feature the track had lost a bit of his spark but there was still plenty to grab onto with a nice cushion developing a couple of meters off the fence.
At the throwing of the green Steve Duff junior got a belter of a start but behind him Daniel Anderson turned it around in front of the pack, and Matt Honeywell ploughed straight into him.
It was a despondent Honeywell who was the innocent victim, and he retired to the infield, while lady luck was clearly on Andersons side as he restarted back in his original position- contrary to WoW rules.
At the restart Duff repeated the dose, but it wasn't long before 'The Duffman' Jamie Duff made his way to the front. Usually thatis a prelude for game-set-match but the younger of the Duffs chipped away at Jamies lead.
With ten laps to go a race changing yellow came out for a spun car,bunching the cars up for the restart but again the Duffs showed their on track superiority and they staged their own brotherly fight with Junior up on the highline, while Jamie ran low. Steve took his chance and lead briefly but as quickly as that happened the door closed. The last couple of laps were as good as you'll see anywhere with a dockyard brawl going on at the head of the field, while behind the Duffs Anderson and Keegan were having their own battle.
The dash for the line was a cracker with Jamie narrowly holding on to the lead at the wire...by 0.0433 of a second- the blink of an eye!
Anderson held on to third with Keegan fourth and the super impressive Alicia McLauchlan rounding out the top five.
Sprintcars – Hydraulink War of the Wings - Round 4
Time Trials - Top 10. Matt Honeywell 13.4728 seconds 1, Jamie Duff 13.4992 2, Steve Duff jnr 13.6810 3, Jason Smith (Nelson) 13.6994 4, Jayden Dodge 13.7910 5, Kris Gerard (Nelson) 13.9048 6, Sam O’Callaghan (Dunedin) 13.9792 7, Luke Keegan 14.0182 8, Paddy North (Blenheim) 14.0943 9, Daniel Anderson (Te Anau) 14.15.85 10.
Ht 1. S Duff jnr 1, Andy Erskine (Cromwell) 2, Honeywell 3.
Ht 2. D Anderson 1, J Duff 2, Smith 3.
Ht 3. Conner Rangi (Nelson) 1, Keegan 2, Dodge 3.
Ht 4. S Duff jnr 1, J Duff 2, D Anderson 3.
B Main. Matt Anderson (Cromwell) 1, Ray Baughan 2, Brent Gaudion 3.
A Main Feature. J Duff 1, S Duff jnr 2, D Anderson 3, Keegan 4, Alicia McLauchlan (Nelson) 5, Shaun Ashton 6, Rangi 7, R Baughan 8, Smith 9, Shearing 10.
Round Points: J Duff 120, S Duff jnr 111, D Anderson 93, Keegan 92, McLauchlan 80, Ashton 80, Smith 74, Rangi 71, R Baughan 71, Dodge 62, Shearing 56, North 49. Erskine 48, M Anderson 35, Gaudion 31, Daniel McKinnell (Invercargill) 29, Honeywell 25, Jason Manson 20, O’Callaghan 18,Todd Richards 16, Gerard 10, Jason Scott (Queenstown) 0, Allan Chapman 0, Josh Walls 0, Martin Harcourt 0, Rodney Pohio 0, Greg Clements 0, Caleb Baughan 0.
DUFF WINS BATTLE- RANGI CONTROLS THE WAR
Just when he needed to string together a solid performance, former national Sprintcar Champion Jamie Duff got his Hydraulink War of the Wings title defence back on track with a handsome win in the third round, held at Christchurch's Woodford Glen Speedway.
For the uninitiated'The Glen' is a venue that concentrates on Stock Car Racing, however in recent seasons promoter Steve Lennon has put out a welcoming mat 'on occasions' to the open wheel classes that are based out of Ruapuna Speedway, just 15 minutes drive down the road.
Duff got his night off to a good start setting the fastest time in Qualifying and then backed that up with a win in his first heat race.
Other heat race wins went to Kyle Shearing, Hayden McKay and Sam O'Callaghan. McKays win was especially popular with the 'Glen faithful' as the regular Modified racer put his home track knowledge to good use in a car that he had leased for the night.
While the heat race action was generally fast and furious, some rulings by referees had the Sprintcar teams scratching their heads, and the carbon paper in the officials infringement books would have been well worn by the end of the night....and you'd have to imagine that the Speedway NZ slush fund would have been topped up nicely too.
With 29 cars having raced the clock in time trials, and just 12 drivers being seeded directly into the 25 lap feature the B Main was always going to prove to be a tough night for someone...and that driver was Steve Duff Jnr. His night never really got going and his twelfth placing saw last weeks feature winner miss the cut.
With track officials already facing an uphill battle to get the show in by a reasonable time the 25 lap feature race must have aged some of them significantly with several crashes, spins and the resulting clean up and restarts seeing just a handful of laps in the books after 20 minutes had gone by. Once the race got a little bit of momentum going, it was a ripper with Jamie Duff and Luke Keegan- arguably the two most popular drivers with the fans having a great battle at the head of the field. Duff utilising the highline, and Keegan drawing on many years as a regular at Woodford Glen and mixing his lines up a little but generally running down 'by the gutter' through the perilously tight (for Sprintcars) turns three and four. Despite Keegans best attempts Duff was not headed with Keegan finishing second. The battle for third place saw Connor rangi initially holding the advantage but Shaun Ashton wore him down at the half way distance. Rangi was a constant threat to Ashton but couldn't get the job done. The races big mover was veteran Ray Baughan who started from grid 17 but he dug deep, and made good decisions at times that others wilted to the pressure, Baughan went on to finish fifth with his son Caleb driving from grid 15 to finish sixth.
Daniel Anderson, who was leading the Hydraulink War of the Wings points after the first two rounds was another to have 'one of those nights' and a dngf in the feature has handed the leaders 'bragging rights' to Nelsonian Connor Rangi, who has been a model of consistency this season. Another strong performance by Luke Keegan sees him second in the points race with Anderson third and another young racer from Nelson- Alicia McLauchlan fourth.
HOT LAPS IN HOT SUN- LAP RECORD TAKES A SHAKE
WRITTEN BY PETE MCNAE
According to Speedway New Zealand statistics, one lap of the Milestone Homes Top of the South Speedway is exactly 354m long. So, anything that can get around there in a tick over 11sec is hustling pretty hard. The lap record in Nelson has stood for a long time, Ross Troughton running a borrowed sprintcar to an 11.781s circuit. Tonight, that mark was broken not once, or twice, or even three times. All told, four drivers ventured into uncharted territory.
The hot laps came in time trials for the second round of the Hydraulink War of the Wings, the 11-meeting South Island sprintcar series that also drew local backing from Brooks Auto Painters. Before the official meeting start, all 21 entrants were given two timed hot laps in the late afternoon heat. And, while Troughton’s mark wasn’t surpassed during heat and feature racing (when records can be set), five drivers dipped under the magical 12s mark, with four; Matt Honeywell, Jamie Duff, Connor Rangi and Steve Duff Jnr, circulating quicker than Troughton’s time. Honeywell was the sharpest of them all on 11.6828s with Jamie Duff a whisker behind at 11.6976. Rangi (11.7599) and Jamie’s brother Steve Jnr on 11.7783 were impressive as Jason Scott (11.9447) also dipped into the 11s.
Heat, dust, traffic and any number of other factors meant no one saw the low side of the 12s for the rest of the meeting but the time trials summed up what we had already heard about the WoW series in 2017-18, the cars are better than before, the pace is hotter and the outcomes less predictable. Four heats were largely trouble-free, in fact it wasn’t until the 25-lap feature that a few cars fell by the wayside, although there were none of the “weapons of mass destruction” crashes spectators have been used to on Nelson’s tight track. Heat wins were shared around; Nelson’s Jason Smith on the board first and posting the fastest lap as groups 1 and 2 squared off. When group 3 met group 4, Steve Duff Jnr marched away, with round three resulting in a win for long distance traveller and round one winner Daniel Anderson from Te Anau. The final group race was taken out by past national modified champion Luke Keegan.
The B Main for the nine mobile drivers to miss automatic qualification (Blenheim’s Scott Valk withdrew after the time trials) was simply a chance to burn up race fuel as all 21 available cars were invited to enter the A Main feature. Second generation sprintcar driver Caleb Baughan won the B Main while his dad, Ray, was the top qualifier and chose to start the feature off grid 2 alongside Keegan. Best of the Nelson entrants at that point were Rangi on row three with Kris Gerard and Alicia Mclauchlan lining up on row five.
The first big tangle happened off turn four in lap two and ended a difficult night for Nelson’s Greg Teece. Baughan Snr was involved but restarted well back, only to get slightly sideways off turn two a few laps later and retire with a punctured rear tyre. Steve Duff Jnr got the hammer down off the first yellow and eventually worked his way past Keegan while a little further back, both Gerard and Mclauchlan were making passes and dodging danger. The hard-charging Honeywell tangled with lone North Island entrant Tony Uhlenberg, sending both to the back and Jamie Duff’s car lost forward momentum and retired to the infield. His brother headed off Keegan for the win with Daniel Anderson third but there was a lot for locals to like about Gerard and Mclauchlan making the top five, Rangi not far away in seventh.
Twelve cars completed the full 25 laps with Martin Harcourt and Jason Smith happy to load up in one piece despite finishing a lap down. Seven cars were listed as non-finishers.
ANDERSON CLAIMS WOW OPENER
When youre hot- youre hot and after annihilating the field at Ruapuna's season opener Cromwell contracted Te Anau resident Daniel Anderson showed that he is well and truly on top of his game with another dominant showing at the first round of the Hydraulink War of the Wings Series.
The temptation of 27 Sprintcars on hand proved to be too much for many with plenty of fans keeping the ticket sellers busy at Ruapuna's second meeting of the season and in the main they weren't let down.
Right from the get go the depth that is building in the mainland Sprint Car scene was shown when rookie Jayden Dodge clocked up the quickest lap in time trials. While some drivers rued a high number draw for the time trials Jamie Duff showed that there was plenty of life in the track if you had the right set up and mindset by recording the third quickest time despite being the 25th car to race the clock.
The first heat was a confidence booster for Duff who started on the outside of row two, but it wasn't long before he he was applying the pressure on race leader Kyle Shearing. Despite his best attempts Duff had to play a supporting role for much of the journey. He tried the outside, he tried the inside but Shearing was resolute...until the white flag lap when Duff saw an opening, and took it. Heading Shearing home by a narrow margin. Caleb Baughan ran a solid race to finish third while the big mover was Steve Duff jnr who started off grid 14 and finished fifth.
A howler of a start saw Daniel Anderson quickly take the lead in the second heat and he was not headed, with perennial WoW contender Matt Honeywell finishing second, while another relative 'newbie' Nelson's Connor Rangi grabbed the third place.
The track was starting to widen up, with a big cushion developing in the Stadium Cars Prison Bend being tendered to and that played into the hands of the more experienced racers.
Five time South Island Champion Jason Scott had a comfortable win in the second heat but it was made just a little easier for him when Daniel Anderson was adjudged as the cause of a spin up by Caleb Baughan, and sent to the rear of the field. Running the cushion to perfection , the fired up Anderson worked his way through the traffic to eventually finish in fifth place, then had further salt rubbed into the wound when he rolled his car on the cool down lap.
Heat race action wound up with Steve Duff waltzing away from the field with seasoned campaigner Ray Baughan finishing second. Connor Rangi got the tongues wagging with an impressive third placing having commenced his battle from grid ten.
While the drivers locked into the feature took a breath, the B Main 'Dance of the Desperate' was won easily by 'Showtime' Jason Smith but with a number of withdrawals from the feature due to mechanical issues, no less than eight transfer spots were available. That didn't diminish from the action being provided one bit and in particular the duel between Martin Harcourt, Alicia McLauchlan, Caleb Brooks and Paddy North showed that pride is sometimes worth more than points.
The 25 lap feature got off to a messy start with Jamie Duff retiring early, and then a four car tangle saw a couple more entrants eliminated.
Normal service was eventually resumed and it was Ray Baughan who lead the early going with Anderson and Rangi in hot pursuit. On the fourth lap Anderson again showed his fondness for 'the high groove' and he blasted around the outside of Baughan. He quickly disappeared into the distance as Baughan and Rangi waged their private battle. In a bold move Rangi muscled his way through into second place and started to reel in Anderson, who was being held up a little in the heavy traffic. By mid race Rangi was right up on the tail of Anderson, and momentarily held the lead. It was dirt track racings version of poetry in motion. Rangi- smooth as silk on the low line, and Anderson running hard open 'top side'.
With six laps to go Anderson managed to open up an advantage of several car lengths and then had the luxury of getting some lapped traffic between him and Rangi. Ultimately Anderson proved to be too good, securing his second career Hydraulink War of the Wings feature win from Rangi, with the fast finishing Matt Honeywell snaring third spot ahead of Ray Baughan, with Steve Duff rounding out the top five.
The Hydraulink War of the Wings Sprint car Series now heads to sunny Nelson for round 2, on November 18.