From Robertson Holden Speedway
Palmerston North, NZ — Craig Dollanksy completed a near-perfect evening at the Robertson Holden International Speedway, leading the 30-lap final race from start to finish. He was chased hard by Jonathan Allard, with Ricky Logan completing the American clean-sweep of the podium positions.
The night’s racing kicked off with an enthralling battle in the two-lap time trials. 6p Nelson Hartley set a good early time of 13.8711, which repelled the challenges of former and current national champions 22a Dean Brindle, 71a Jamie McDonald and 1nzm Rodney Wood. However the first international driver 0usa Jonathan Allard topped it with a 13.7079, which was then also bested by compatriot 7usa Craig Dollansky’s 13.4986. The crowd were impressed when firstly 66m Skinny Colson and then 8a Ryan O’Connor fought over second place ahead of Allard (13.6881 and 13.6356 respectively), until 10usa Ricky Logan stunned everyone with a 13.4596 on the very last lap of the time trials.
8a Ryan O’Connor looked sharp when he held off 10usa Ricky Logan around the first bend to lead the opening heat. A lapped car caused consternation when O’Connor and Logan were held up. 0usa Jonathan Allard dove up the inside of Logan then flicked to the outside to overtake the slower car. This caused Logan to clobber the wall, but he survived after dropping a few places. 66m Skinny Colson made the most of an impressive start to beat 7usa Craig Dollanksy to the first corner in the second group, but crucially hesitated when coming across a lapped car, allowing Dollansky to zip past for the win.
Drama in the second heats started when 6p Nelson Hartley drifted wide into the wall on the opening lap and Allard rode up the back of him, damaging the American’s front end and puncturing his right-rear tyre. 28p Chris Uhlenberg made the most of his front row grid, securing a good win ahead of 11p Ian Easton. Logan and O’Connor found the going tough from the back, only making their way up to sixth and eight respectively. 22a Dean Brindle was on fire in the final heat, passing three cars on the opening lap and then working his way past 7p Brent Harris. 6m James Dahm had a healthy lead, but had his thunder stolen by the flying Brindle on the last lap of the race. Dollanksy from the back was facing heavy resistance in the form of Colson, until he finally passed both him and 18a Greg Pickerill around the outside in one movement.
Uhlenberg backed up his heat win with an assured drive to victory in the B-Main, the biggest mover being 1nzm Rodney Wood who made inside passes on 35a Hans Boere and Harris. Logan set the top six shootout’s alight with a stunning outside pass on Colson in the final lap of their battle, but had to concede defeat to a determined O’Connor, who was then comfortably beaten by Dollansky in the final run-off.
A number of false starts punctuated the beginning of the 30 lap A-Main, the first involving the rollover of speedway veteran Easton, and the second a botched take-off which caused Logan to launch into a massive wheelie after striking the rear of Dollansky’s car when he didn’t expect the race to be started – luckily neither car suffered damage. Once underway it was a professional performance by Dollansky who cleared out to a solid lead. Starting on grid nine after extensive repairs, Allard was on a mission. He was up to fifth place by the time the first yellow lights were activated on lap nine for an incident between Uhlenberg and 11w Michael Gray. Allard then overtook the brisk Kiwi duo of Brindle and O’Connor with outside and inside passes respectively, and when Logan was held up by a lapped car Allard stormed past his compatriot also.
When the next caution period arrived on lap 19 for the stricken car of O’Connor who had tangled with a back marker, Allard had amazingly moved from grid nine to second place behind Dollansky. But Allard couldn’t manage to mount an attack for the lead, as Dollansky poured on the pace once again after the restart. Dollansky exuded class in this victory, leading all 30 laps from start to finish. Allard drove the most aggressively, and recovered well from his earlier damage to finish an excellent second, while Logan showed he was just as quick as the other two but luck was not on his side tonight. McDonald made a good pass on Pickerill to finish fifth, behind the first and pick of the New Zealander’s Brindle in fourth, who shone despite having a damaged front wing in the final