It’s rare to see such domination as that seen from Scott Tennant at the Placemakers NZ Stockcar Grand Prix at the McDonalds Kihikihi Speedway on March 23 and 24.

The reigning 2NZ put in a performance for the ages at the meet, sweeping all three qualifying heats and backing it up 24 hours later with two more wins and a third to secure the Grand Prix title in grand style, claiming an astonishing 87 points out of a possible 90.

It was arguably one of the best displays of individual driving in a category where tribal alliances count more than solo endeavour. Even after allowing for the fact that the Aucklander had numerous track mates to help him if required, there’s no denying that his superlative performance came from his own effort.

This has been an event a long time in the making, postponed from last season due to Covid, then postponed twice more because of a terrible run of weather. This time, the weather finally played ball, allowing such a breathtaking display of racing to take place.

Like so many events impacted by the weather this season, the continual postponements took much of the pre-event enthusiasm. However, there was still a good turnout, with all North Island venues, except for Wellington, represented.

Tennant won five out of six heats over the Grand Prix weekend.

A generous seven qualifiers from each group make the finals, plus two from the repechage, meant that Friday night qualifying was relatively tame for the light crowd in attendance. There were a few big hits and a couple of rollovers, but banking the points was the name of the game.


The most significant talking point from Friday’s qualifying was the large Auckland armada that had qualified for the final, with no fewer than seven Aucklanders making the final 30. Stratford had five, including national champion Josh Walsh who showed the confident pace that took him to the 1NZ and NI titles.

Huntly was next best with four, while Rotorua, Palmerston North and the host track saw three qualify. Cody Lockett was Wanganui’s sole qualifier, with nobody from Meeanee or Gisborne able to make the cut.

A far bigger crowd fill the banks of the Kihikihi Domain on a slightly nippy Saturday afternoon, anticipating a fine evening’s entertainment. They were not to be disappointed. Pole-sitter Keegan Orr narrowly emerged from opening lap carnage to add a fourth Rotorua car to the finals, taking the race win. Runner-up Alex Maule gave Palmerston North a fourth car in the finals thanks to Orr’s track mate Joel Steiner, who spun Maule’s clubmate Cody Hodge, who was in that spot, to protect Orr’s lead.

Tennant quickly moved into the lead from P3 in the opening heat and stayed there, shepherded from potential attacks from track mates Josh Simpson and Logan Peat, who finished second and third.

With fellow Aucklander and defending GP champion Gary Longergan in fourth, it was clear, even at this early stage the championship was going to stay in the Super City, with the nearest non-Aucklander being Palmerston North’s Kyle Rowe, who was sixth, and Rotorua’s Brent Stewart who was seventh.

Tennant capitalised on the early mêlée in Heat 2, quickly vaulting into third. He then diced with race leader Lowe for several laps following a stoppage, eventually taking the lead and winning over his rival. Third-placed Simpson and fourth-place Peat cemented their title chances, while Lonergan remained in the hunt with sixth.

Tennant had a perfect score of 60 at this stage, giving him a massive five-point buffer over Simspon, Peat and Lowe, all tied for second. Lonergan was next on 52, with Stewart completing the top six on 48. Dion Henderson was the best local on 47; he and Stewart needing something exceptional to happen to score a podium.

With the rare luxury of a five-point buffer, all Tennant had to do was cruise and collect. By his admission, he wasn’t pushing hard in the finale. Nevertheless, he took advantage of his car speed and early skirmishes ahead in the pack to finish third and claim the Grand Prix title by a whopping seven points.

This is not to say there was no attempt to give him a run for his money as Kyle and Taylor Lampp tried to assist Lowe, but the Auckland armada and their allies were far too strong.

Fourth place for Simpson in the finale was enough for him to claim second overall, on 81 points, with Peat, who ran shotgun for Tennant for most of the race, third on 79 for his first podium in an allocated title. Lowe was a solid fourth on 77, while Stewart was fifth on 75. Henderson gave the best performance by a Kihikihi driver to finish sixth He was one ahead of defending champion Lonergan, who lost ground in a skirmish in the final heat. Kyle Lampp on 63, Brad Simspon on 58 and Cody Lockett on 50 completed the top ten. Lockett did well to make the top ten after not starting the opening heat, a win in the finale vaulting him up the order.

Locals had something to cheer for when Cameron Taylor won the Rosetown Rumble for the non-qualifiers, with Rotorua’s Riley McDonald and Auckland’s Matt Stone completing the trifecta.