The fourth round of the Supertruck racing series turned on some spectacular racing action. The field was a diverse spread that included rookie drivers, former NZ1 dirt track racers fresh in the seat of a 5-tonne giant, and seasoned veterans.
Saturday qualifying only showed a hint of what was to come. Troy Wheeler qualified in pole position, followed closely by Malcolm Little, just 0.2 of a second behind, and Rob Waters in third. Saturday’s race was clean and fast with good times and a finishing order that looked damn near identical to the qualifying order.
Sunday’s race was very punishing. With a wet and very greasy track, traction proved difficult and made for some very hairy moments and plenty of push and shove, resulting in some serious looking damage. Alex Little got thrown in the middle of the action and had to limp his way off to the side of the track after getting his passenger door cleaned out by Garry Price.
Racing was called off after Dave West’s win on Sunday, before the final race could be run due to poor weather conditions, and judging by the mayhem on track this was the best option and left a huge opportunity for a new top spot on the podium after the round wrap up in Taupo.
Long-time truck racer Malcolm Little went into this event with a narrow lead on the championship board after two strong South Island rounds. Malcolm’s years of racing have surely inspired many others, including his son Alex. At the age of 16 Alex is the youngest racer in the championship and is moving quickly to fill his father’s shoes. Alex’s times during practice had him sitting fourth quickest. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, this was Alex’s first time around Pukekohe.
Last year’s champion Andrew Porter was plagued with mechanical issues that resulted in a full engine replacement on Saturday night in order for the truck to race on Sunday. Unfortunately he got tangled up with Malcolm Little in the hairpin, while hot on the heels of leader Dave West, allowing West a clean drive to victory in Sunday’s race. For West this was exactly what was needed after a 500-hour rebuild of his Freightliner following a horrific crash at Teretonga Park in Invercargill. The win on Sunday came after a fourth in the first race, and the team couldn’t be happier with the results.
Back in New Zealand after three years on Aussie soil it was Shane Gray’s first time at Pukekohe. With a little less power and more weight to suit the Aussies’ push-and-shove approach to racing, Gray was having trouble keeping up legally. He had some issues with his speed governor and popped over the 160kmph speed limit, causing a DQ. It was good to see an Aussie back, with Rob Waters also making the effort to pop across the ditch and mix it up with us kiwis in his immaculately presented Daynite Towing Kenworth T909.