The action came fast and furious and left few doubting that the annual Gold Cup event at Ruapuna has become one of the country’s premier Sprintcar events.

Not only was racing from the top shelf, but Ruapuna’s desire to ‘put on a show’ was there for all to see with resident clown ‘Adam Allsorts’ entertaining the crowd, a moving ANZAC tribute, the walk around parade by the drivers with their cars, and plenty of fireworks- all complimenting the brilliant stadium sound system. The stage was set.

Amazingly, despite the previous night’s torrid action, only one car was missing: that of Corey McQuillan.

The Matt Honeywell team certainly put in the hard yards getting the Skyfarmers Aviators machine rebuilt after the previous night’s big crash. Another team that had burnt the midnight oil was Landon Dawson’s outfit, which had an engine shipped south from Nelson to transplant into the Stephen Taylor-driven car.

The cold conditions failed to deter a good-sized crowd from turning up for the final night of the season, which saw the continuation of the Ruapuna Rumble for Wingless Sprints as part of the ‘under card’.

With the previous night’s heat race points rolling over for the Gold Cup qualifying, there was always going to be some torrid action.


The first heat race showed that Allard was likely to continue the previous night’s domination as he raced through from grid seven to take an exciting heat win from Stephen Taylor, who had led for most of the race. Max Guilford grabbed third from promising Nelson driver Cambell McManaway, who didn’t look at all out of place in the strong field.

All hell broke loose in the next heat when a Lap 1 skirmish saw no fewer than six starters sidelined with both Nigel Colvin and Bailey Patterson rolling.

This cleared the way for Joel Myers Jnr to grab maximum points from Connor Rangi and perennial crowd favourite Jamie McDonald.

Stephen Taylor celebrates a hardfought Gold Cup victory at Ruapuna.

It was another Allard win in the third heat when he headed ‘The Sherriff’ Jayden Dodge across the line.

The final heat saw more carnage. Jamie Duff got his Gold Cup aspirations back in check with a great run, and he was leading by a handsome margin, but behind him, there was a real war being waged between Myers and Matt Leversedge. With a lap to go, the two got together as Myers made an inside pass, Leversedge’s car spearing into the fence, inflicting plenty of damage which would see his team having to dig deep to get the car ready for the feature.

Grid positions for the feature saw one through six determined by a pole shuffle. This came down to a ‘Shoot Out’ between top qualifier Allard, and Taylor who had moved up two spots from his original fourth spot. The American was in no mood to be upstaged, and despite Taylor’s efforts, it would be ‘JA’ who would pace the field for the 21st running of the storied Gold Cup event.

With the AC-DC hit ‘Thunderstruck’ blaring through the sound system, the big crowd applauded the drivers as they rolled into formation with the four-wide salute, and there was no shortage of expectation.

The Feature struggled to gain momentum with numerous early yellow lights, the first when Max Guilford spun out on the Prison Bend, forcing him to restart at the rear of the field.

Once the race settled down, Allard dominated until the 20th lap, when the American was going to put Gene Spooner a lap down but had been racing with no brakes for several laps, carrying too much pace and spinning out.

There was no hiding his disappointment as the Daltons ‘0’ was pushed to the infield. It was now game on for the Kiwis as Taylor had Rangi, Duff, McDonald, and Dodge snapping at his heels.

As the laps counted down Taylor took control, but Rangi was closing fast while Duff had to contend with McDonald. The hard-charging Guilford then worked his way into contention and was threatening to snatch a podium spot. In the last lap dash to the line, Taylor hung on to take the win from Rangi, with Duff, Guilford and McDonald rounding out the top five.

The key support racing came from the Wingless Sprints on the second night of their Ruapuna Rumble.

Invercargill’s Luke Shearing, who had been on top of the points after the first night’s racing, claimed the crown which was raced over two nights with each driver having six heat races.

Defending title holder Luke McClymont, from Bay Park, made up for a disappointing first night to finish second overall, redeeming himself with a strong night two performance, while Andrew Marker was third. McClymont and Marker were tied on points but McClymont’s faster lap time proved to be the tiebreaker.


The support class racing was also of a high standard. Veteran Midget car racer Glen Durie was the pick of the drivers in that class, placing in all three races, although he had to bow to Jeremy Webb in the feature.

Craig Cox and Jack Brownlees took out the Modified Sprint and Quarter Midget features respectively.