Brunt takes first feature win and North Island title

Western Springs Speedway

From Western Springs Speedway

Michael Brunt has taken his first feature win at Western Springs and with it, taking the North Island Midget title in a race of attrition for the Midgets.

Brunt started the feature race alongside American Jerry Coons Jr. and the pair were immediately in the action when both were involved in an incident on turn one that saw current national champion Michael Pickens rolling out of the race. When the race got underway, Brunt and Coons battled briefly for the lead before the American got in front of the Kiwi to give him the lead as the yellow flags came out again on lap two when Shayne Alach tipped his car on its side.

Off the restart, Coons jumped into the lead while Brunt surrendered his position to Brad Mosen, only for Mosen to pull on to the infield with electrical problems. Dave Gick then moved into second with Australian Nathan Smee moving to third until he was forced from the track when a bent exhaust started to smoulder the seat lining, meaning Smee had to pull off for fresh air. Then three laps later, Coons, who had opened a sizeable lead, pulled onto the infield with electrical problems.

This promoted Gick into the lead ahead of Brunt and Hayden Williams. Brunt chased down Gick and made a move with nine laps to go, forcing Gick wide and allowing Williams through into second and Alistair Wooten into third place. Things seemed to have settled until three laps from home when Williams slapped the wall and damaged his rear suspension, but while coming off the track took care of his team-mate Wooten, allowing Gick back into second while Wooten got relegated to third. Then Wooten caught a rut along with Angus McLeod on the final lap, the pair both rolling heavily and bringing on the red lights. Both drivers were ok, although McLeod suffered heavy bruising. So the race restarted for one lap, with Brunt hanging on for his first feature win and first Speedway New Zealand title ahead of Gick, Shaun Insley, Chris McCutcheon and Jared Wade, while Duane Hickman rounded out the six finishers from the 20 cars that took the green flag 30 laps earlier.

The midget title was not the only Speedway NZ title on the line, with the TQ’s also contesting their Grand Prix. In stark contrast to the preceding Midget feature, the race was run without interruption and it was a Baker family celebration with Scott Baker starting from pole and brother Ryan joining him on the front row. Scott went straight into a lead which he would never lose while a small mistake 11 laps into the 20 lap feature saw Duane Todd move into second, however the remainder of the race was a battle between the pair and in the end Baker reclaimed second place in a drag race to the line, the Baker duo 1-2 making a difference from the domination of TQ racing from the Todd’s, with Duane currently carrying the 2NZ, having finished behind cousin Craig at last year’s national title.

Ryan O’Connor started from Pole in the Sprint Car feature but it was Carl Wilson who stole the show in the opening attempt to start the race, rolling his car high up the catch fencing, before landing back on the race track. Thankfully Wilson emerged from his third big crash of the season unscathed.

When the race got away, O’Connor hit the front while top qualifier, American Jonathan Allard, who drew a marble to invert the top six grids, worked his way forward and chased down O’Connor while the pair were negotiating lapped traffic, hitting the lead on lap eleven before delivering a master class in Sprint Car racing to take a four second win ahead of O’Connor while Jamie Duff claimed third, holding off a last corner challenge from Jamie McDonald that saw McDonald spin out. Another American Ricky Logan was fourth and Australian Glen Saville rounded out the top five.