STORY Warrick Korstanje
PHOTOS Brian Hopping
On the back of the Accessman NZ Midget Championships at Ruapuna, the Ellesmere Motor Racing Club ran the CTRA National Title for Midgets. They were blessed with fine warm weather on the day which eventually as expected left its mark on the track conditions. Although going slick and dusty the surface stayed together and the full width of the track was used by all.
There was a fantastic turn out of midgets to be able to form three groups. These included the Americans Zeb Wise, Tyler Courtney and Australian Kaidon Brown. Along with a number of North Island visitors, the local fans were provided with one of the best line ups including an international flavour in its history.
Kaidon Brown, who had a commanding lead in the premier SNZ Midget Championship before he had to pull in with what was a race ending battery terminal fault, scorched the field in the opening heat. The light came on for Tyler Courtney too as he claimed second place over Glen Durie with one of the track locals Tom Lumsden holding the Aucklander Max Guilford.
Some were out again in heat two where the Americans filled the first two spots with Zeb Wise leading home Courtney. There was a top performance from last month’s star of our Next Generation story, young Jack Low, in taking out third place ahead of the other hometown hero, Dave Kerr with Nathan Wilkie gaining the fifth spot.
Third heat and the young American Zeb Wise proved that his #3NZ number achieved the night before was no fluke. He picked up the full bag of points over Kerr with Brown managing to get under Lumsden in the final laps for third. Guilford rounded out the top five.
The title race saw the Australian Brown off the front row from the Americans Wise and Courtney on the second with local Kerr outside him. Lumsden and Low filled the third row with Durie on the inside of Guilford making up the top eight of the nineteen car field. It was Wise who put the pressure on Brown early to claim the lead. Kerr had a good battle with Courtney before he was put one spot down. A couple of the local boys, Lumsden and Low, were in a three way battle with Guilford as the race set in and it was not long before Wise along with Brown and Courtney began weaving their way through lapped traffic where the full width of the Ellesmere track was used.
When the flag fell, Wise took the win over Brown from Courtney with Guilford picking up four places to claim fourth place. Young Jack Low battled well again with Lumsden and Kerr to be the first local home in that order. James Haliburton while starting 13th gained five places and other notable movers were Jayden Worthington up nine to 10th place and Mitchell Hill up seven to come home 11th.
The racers enjoyed the Ellesmere track that the hot afternoon sun turned slick and dusty. It held together and did not break up and a dirt line was usable right up to the wall. The configuration of the track with its wide line and flowing corners was loved by the visitors thus the run on the Ellesmere apparel over the weekend.
Supporting classes TQ driver Liam McCoubrey finish off an excellent weekend overcoming Kyle Glover and Jayden Corkill to pick up his third feature win in three days. Craig Cox, Jayden Basalaj recorded Modified Sprint wins with Courtney Jones taking out the feature. Peter Keith, Heath Liddell and Jamie Duff won the 6’s races while the Saloons struggled somewhat with the conditions. Ian Clark and Bruce Scott had wins.
A must mention for the weekend was the amazing ¼ midget class which had been boosted all weekend by some Auckland visitors and provided some tough racing. Emerson Vincent, Alec Insley and Cole Robinson proved stiff competition for the locals of Jacob Cunniffe, Ethan Smith, Dylan Forsey and Malakai Webb who were the best locals on the day. Vincent/Insley/Cunniffe in the first race. Insley/Robertson/Cunniffe in the second race while the final went to Insley from Vincent and Cunniffe again.
A good field of ATVs enjoyed the smooth Ellesmere track and once again the handicapping of the boys and girls made it a fun day to watch. Sean and Ian Adams led local Corey Duckmanton home in the first with Terry Stevens, Ian Adams and Craig Corson claiming the front three in the second. Final race was called when the trainer wheels of Ian Adams tipped him up while Corson had a hold over Brian Miller and Daniel Wilson.