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NZ Std Stock Champs : Rotorua 23 & 24 March 2001 By Macgor
After a months delay thanks to lousy weather at the first attempt Rotorua turned on a brilliant two days of sunshine enabling this the inaugural NZ Std Stock Championship to finally be run .
A quick count at scrutineering revealed around eighty cars had fronted to partake representing every track that
runs the class . Stratford , Wanganui and Gisborne only managed one entry each though . One is better than none 
is my way of looking at it .
Scrutineering which was carried out lakeside in Rotorua city didn't seem to produce any great dramas for anyone other than for 0h Rodney Smythe who was plucked yet again for engine irregularities . The last time was at the 
Nth Island Champs in Auckland . More is bound to be revealed about this turn of events as time passes .

A disappointingly small crowd turned up to watch  the qualifying night racing which was as expected for the class fairly aggressive from the first flag fall . Not too many major incidents happened despite the amount of contact happening on the track. One rollover for 5b Ivan Smith was a scary moment when his exposed roll cage was hit 
by another car but thankfully no injury to the driver resulted .
Another rollover took an eternity for the crash crew to right again .
Results were not forth coming as the meeting progressed and neither were they broadcast before the close of the meeting so I left the venue not knowing who the 26 qualifiers were .
I suppose I could have wandered down to the pits after the meeting but it is my firm belief that that is not the way things should work .

Support Classes on night one were a five car field of streetstocks that actually turned on a good display
of spinning and generally playing the fool . The 6 car field of A-graders had one interesting race with Barry Hunter blocking Darcy and Gary Hunter out of the top spots allowing Mark Osbourne driving the ex 96z Grant Wenzlick 
to score a win . 
The 12 std saloons should have been somewhere else . 80% of the crowd left the venue rather than stay to watch their last race which was the last event on the program .
The big question was would the local fans turn out to support the finals night as it appeared to me that most of those there on Qualifying night were out of towners .

Finals Night
Srutineering was once again held lakeside and appeared to be a formality more than anything else . I didn't see or hear of any dramas and everyone seemed fairly relaxed about it .

Out to the track and eventually a reasonable sized crowd turned up for a look see .

Heat one
Mostly a clean race and not a lot of upset for the front runners apart from 82a Billy Neil who collapsed his right 
front suspension while leading relegating himself to the non finishers group . 76h Scot Garland won from grid 8 .
58p Peter Bengston had a dynamite drive into second from grid 23 . Third was 92a Blu Rawiri who had to battle 
his way there from grid 19 . 13b Weston Hemara did well to drop only one spot and come home 4th with 
19r Lance Aldridge and 22w Richard Gaskin rounding out the top six .
Interesting to note that all of the above named were from different tracks .

Heat Two
Heat two saw problems for Blu Rawiri on the starting grid and the three minute allowance used to effect rushed repairs to get him running again . His luck wasn't improving though when he was delayed in turn one of the first lap 
as a result of the general melee that took place .
58p Peter Bengston's good run ended on the bumper of 68r Keith Spanheke in the first instance and he was 
finished off by 44r Vernon Boothby .
82a Billy Neil and 99a Grant Littlewood were both in 'R'car destruction mode and silly me thought they were working to help out club mate Blu Rawiri . 68r Keith Spanheke was having a go at any thing without an 'R' on it .
Generally there was combat happening all over the track which made it not only a spectacle but also very hard to
keep track of who was where in the running order .
22w Richard Gaskin won from grid 9 signaling he was very much in town to win , Tony Wootten driving the black
99h car of Tony Whyte maintained his grid two spot for second .76h Scot Garland came in third from grid 23 in
what was obviously a superb drive .16r Clive Pritchard , 89w Dale Robertson and 14r Steve Axtens rounded out 
the top six .

Heat three
Scot Garland was points leader by 3 points over 22w Richard Gaskin on 47pts . Blu Rawiri  had gathered 
43 points by virtue of his heat one second placing and scoring a more lowly eighth in heat two .
All three cars were to be leaving from mid pack with Blu Rawiri the worse off on grid fifteen .
Most unusual for a the third heat of a stockcar championship was the emerging from the pits of all 26 qualifiers
to take their places for the start . I'm not sure I have ever seen that happen before and probably suggests the 
action up to this point hadn't really been all that vicious .
28r Graeme Lambert had pole and started on the brakes holding back the entire pole line column of cars while
the outside pole column shot through . Scot Garland was in the lucky lot while both Gaskin and Rawiri were both
in the traffic jam . 
Exiting turn two and Scot Garland had moved from grid 12 through into fourth spot on the track .The bad luck continued for Rawiri when he finally got free of the start line block he tangled with 64a Carlos Chesnutt delaying
him further . 
The race had barely done a lap when a  rare red was shown bringing everything to a standstill to retrieve 43k
Tony Bennetto from the pit gate wall . 
A lap after the restart and Garland was into the lead and lapping Blu Rawiri .
Plenty of mayhem going on with the rest of the field meant the other positions were hard to fathom although I do
think that Tony Wootten was still right up with the play .
Near the white flag lap I noticed the commentators calling Blu Rawiri in second place but to my mind he was a lap
down and unlikely to be in that position unless the whole field had been lapped!! . Believe me the run Garland had
going was made that a distinct possibility .
76h Scot Garland received the chequered flag , did his parade lap as 1nz Std Stock, gave the thumbs up to 
82a Billy Neil in thanks, letting me know for sure which club the 82a was working for and I hit the road for home .
A phone call on the way that informed me Blu Rawiri had come out as the new 2nz Std Stock and a hard fought
run off between 99h Tony Wootten and 14r Steve Axtens had gone the way of Axtens to decide third overall .
Looking at the Rotorua site the provisional results sheet published there has Blu Rawiri receiving maximum points 
for the third heat and I have since learned that 76h Scot Garland had been relegated for an indescretion .

Support Classes
The reason I left the venue before the meeting was complete was that I had had my fill of Minisprints and Ministocks
and when I saw them lining up to come out yet again I was off . 
The other supporting class was a strong 12 car field of a-grade stockcars that raced dull. The only highlight was seeing 62r Neville Stanaway getting his new beast up to speed and hinting there was more to come . 
There were also consolation races for non qualified Std Stocks and their first heat contained 33 cars , their second
18 cars and at their third outing the field was down to 14 cars . Good action throughout though
Overall the meeting was run well enough but really there were far too many hot dog classes and in my heart I am
slightly disappointed with the way one car was allowed to run away with the championship almost unchallenged .
Rotorua is a great place to spend a weekend for speedway and the improvements made at the venue show .
The track surface was excellent all weekend with no dust and no slush .
All we need now is for the health dept. to condemn the way below standard toilet facilities and force a rebuilding project to happen . Mind you the real reason they were so filthy is that a few of the customers were only human 
in appearance and used them as untrained animals would . I pity the Rotorua Club members that have to do 
the cleaning .

I added a few video clips below but really the lighting at Rotorua is not suitable for my camera so quality is bad .

Heat : exiting turn one lap 1: 20 cars in this shot

Heat 1: Racing was mostly about earning points

Heat2: Blu Rawiri in emergency repair mode

Heat 2: The action begins

Heat 2 : Trying to keep track of this lot was impossible

Heat 2: 58p Peter Bengston was got twice at once

Heat 3: the inside lane blocker

Heat 3 : Blu Rawiri and Carlos Chesnutt get hooked up

Heat 3 : Tony Bennetto was out early

Heat 3: Garland closes on Rawiri to put him a lap down

Heat 3 : Garland out by the wall makes the pass

Heat 3 : Did this Pole line pass get Garland relegated?

Heat 3: Richard Gaskin gets his from Graeme Ward

NZ Std Stock Champ Scot Garland on parade

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