TEAM GB LIONS NZ STATISTICS UPDATE
NEW ZEALAND 2017
SUPERSTOCK TEAMS CHAMPIONSHIP
This will be the ninth appearance by the British Lions at the Robertson Holden International Speedway, Palmerston North and representing the UK are:
Team Captain 515 Frankie Wainman Jnr, 94 John Dowson, 166 Bobby Griffin,
207 Ben Hurdman and 217 Lee Fairhurst
They are debut appearances for John Dowson and Bobby Griffin, second time for Ben Hurdman and Lee Fairhurst and FWJ will be having his eighth outing.
Drawn in Group C on Saturday 4th February, the Lions beat both Stratford Scrappers and Canterbury Glen Eagles to top the group and advance to the semi finals on Sunday 5th February. They are up against Gisborne Giants (who feature gb84 Tom Harris as a guest driver!) who they beat at the same stage last year. The other semi final features the 2016 Champions Hawke's Bay Hawkeyes against Palmerston North Panthers - should be quite a tussle!
Can GB Lions go one stage further than last year and finally claim this Championship?
Sadly the answer was no as they finished runners up to the eventual champions Hawke's Bay Hawkeyes for the second year in succession.
The Lions cruised through their semi final against the Gisborne Giants but once again came up against classier opposition in the Final. The Hawkeyes made a beeline for Frankie Wainman Jnr and damage to his car included the petrol pump packing up, the same fate that his car suffered from last year. GB Lions briefly led but when Lee Fairhurst was halted and had to be towed off, it was all over.
Once again Team GB Lions represented BrisCA Stock Car Racing amazingly well and all UK stock car fans can feel justifiably proud of the whole team. To crown a superb two days of racing, team captain Frankie Wainman Jnr was named 'Warrior of the Superstocks Team Championship' - a well deserved and hard earned accolade.
Picture downloaded from Team GB Racing. Thanks to FWJ, Lee Fairhurst, Ben Hurdman, Bobby Griffin, John Dowson Jnr and FWJJ together with all the support team and Managers Guy Parker and Peter Falding for keeping us all so well entertained from 12,000 miles away. Roll on 2018.
248 SUPERSTOCK GLOBAL CHALLENGE
Took place at Palmerston North on January 14th. Competing among the 33 drivers over 3 heats were 338gb Chris Brocksopp and 217gb Lee Fairhurst. Lee finished 18th and Chris 20th. The 248 Global Challenge Champion for 2017 was 58p Peter Bengston - a driver for Palmerston North Panthers. (The cars have a minimum weight of 1400kg and a maximum weight of 1500kg. The engines are sealed Chevys of 4072 cc and 248.5 cubic inches.)
WORLD 240 WORLD INVITATIONAL SUPERSTOCK CHAMPIONSHIP
Took place at Rotorua Paradise Valley Raceway on 20th & 21st January. 338gb Chris Brocksopp competed on the 20th January but did not qualify for the second night.
515gb Frankie Wainman Jnr, 94gb John Dowson Jnr, 217gb Lee Fairhurst and 166gb Bobby Griffin were seeded through to the Finals on day 2. FWJ has won this Championship three times (still the only driver ever to have done so) and, once again, he was in commanding form finishing 6th in race 1 and 1st in race 2 . He was 2nd overall going into the last race and he started in pole position. But despite holding back and getting some help from Lee Fairhurst other NZ drivers teamed up to ensure he did not win for the fourth time. He still finished 6th overall despite losing a lap when pinned to the wall. John Dowson finished 21st, Lee Fairhurst 22nd and Bobby Griffin 25th.
The new 240 World Champion was NZ1 Simon Joblin and the Global 248 Champion 58p Peter Bengston finished third.
SUPERSTOCK TEAMS ANNUAL CHALLENGE MATCH
On Sunday 29th January Team GB Lions beat Auckland Allstars in the annual challenge match at Waikaraka Park Auckland.
Frankie Wainman Jnr stood down to give the debut drivers the chance to gain valuable experience of Teams racing. So it was Lee Fairhurst, Ben Hurdman, John Dowson Jnr and Bobby Griffin who took on the Allstars and won with John Dowson Jnr winning the race. The victory gives Team GB increased confidence for the main event this coming weekend at Palmerston North on Saturday and Sunday 4th & 5th February.
CELEBRATING TEAM GB LIONS 2ND PLACE
AT THE 2016 NEW ZEALAND SUPERSTOCK TEAMS CHAMPIONSHIP
I could not resist some form of personal tribute to the 2016 GB Lions Team success in NZ and came up with a scratch-built 1:60 scale model to represent the team cars in a display box adorned with information about the drivers, sponsors, supporters, results etc. This will be added to my collection of stock car memorabilia and serve as a permanent reminder of an outstanding team performance that has done so much to enhance the reputation of BriSCA F1 stock car racing and the drivers that carried the GB flag so proudly.
Below are some pictures of the display box:
THE FOUR GB LIONS TEAMS THAT HAVE MADE THE PODIUM
IN THE NEW ZEALAND SUPERSTOCK TEAMS CHAMPIONSHIP
2ND PLACE IN 2016: Frankie Wainman Jnr, Lee Fairhurst, Chris Cowley, Ben Hurdman and Chris Brocksopp
2ND PLACE IN 2010: Frankie Wainman Jnr, Tom Harris, Stuart Smith Jnr, Craig Finnikin and Mick Harris
3RD PLACE IN 2012: Frankie Wainman Jnr, Mark Taylor, Tom Harris, Danny Wainman and Mat Newson
3RD PLACE IN 2009: Frankie Wainman Jnr, Stuart Smith Jnr, Mark Taylor, Tom Harris and Mick Harris
DRIVER TEAM MEMBERS DETAILS TO DATE
NEW ZEALAND 2016
The drivers representing the UK in New Zealand this year are:
15th & 16th January at the Paradise Valley Raceway, Rotorua
217 Lee Fairhurst, H231 Daniel van Spijker, 388 Paul Ford
2016 World 240 Champion - 52p Scott Joblin
2nd 62p Adam Joblin & 3rd 118r Bryce Steiner
12th H231 Daniel van Spijker &
joint 15th GB217 Lee Fairhurst & GB388 Paul Ford
THE 248 SUPERSTOCK GLOBAL CHALLENGE
23rd January at Palmerston North
37 Chris Cowley, 207 Ben Hurdman, 212 Danny Wainman, 388 Paul Ford
2016 GLOBAL 248 CHAMPION - 581p Jordan Dare
2nd 62p Adam Joblin & 3rd 591p Wayne Hemi
6th 37gb Chris Cowley & 14th 207gb Ben Hurdman
AUCKLAND TEAMS RACING
31st January in Auckland
37 Chris Cowley, 207 Ben Hurdman, 338 Chris Brocksopp &
217 Lee Fairhurst
TEAM GB LIONS BEAT THE AUCKLAND ALLSTARS
All four Team GB drivers finished the race but only one of the Allstars crossed the line! Well done the Lions! Now for the main event!
ENZED SUPERSTOCK TEAMS CHAMPIONSHIP
6th & 7th February at Palmerston North
37 Chris Cowley, 207 Ben Hurdman, 338 Chris Brocksopp,
217 Lee Fairhurst, 515 Frankie Wainman Jnr
TEAM GB LIONS ACHIEVE AN AMAZING 2ND PLACE FINISH
Drawn in Group C on day 1, 6th February, with Wanganui Warriors and Stratford Scrappers they beat the Scrappers 130-65 and in their second match beat the Warriors 175-20 and, in doing so, qualified for the Semi Finals.
On day 2, 7th February, they took on the pre tournament favourites, Gisborne Giants and were not expected to win! But win they did in probably the best race of the Championship, beating the Giants to qualify for the Final.
In the other semi-final The Hawke's Bay Hawkeyes beat the Manawatu Mustangs.
The Final saw the Hawkeyes, easily the most polished performers of the Championship, take the win against the GB Lions. The Lions lost Frankie Wainman Jnr early on with mechanical problems and then Ben Hurdman was rolled leaving just Chris Cowley and Lee Fairhurst. It sadly was not enough and the Hawkeyes were just too strong in those circumstances.
But The GB Lions did both country and BriSCA F1 Stock Car Racing proud leaving many of the kiwi fans stunned with their well deserved results. Our drivers showed true teamwork and adapted to the kiwi style of racing with all the skill and determination they show as individuals back on the UK ovals.
HUGE CONGRATULATIONS TO:
CAPTAIN FRANKIE WAINMAN JNR, LEE FAIRHURST, BEN HURDMAN, CHRIS COWLEY, CHRIS BROCKSOPP & DEREK FAIRHURST on a fantastic result, and to all the mechanics, sponsors and those in the background supporting their efforts. The fans back home were glued to social media, and live streaming throughout the Championship.
(Picture copied from the Team GB Lions Facebook Site)
Roll on 2017 and the chance to go one better and bring the Championship trophy to the UK.
STOCKCARS THE GAME
This is a board game for 2-8 players that was launched 2015 in NZ based on their rules of stock car racing. It comes in a handy storage tube containing a rolled up rubber playing mat in the form of an oval raceway, eight coloured NZ-shaped stock car counters, dice and the rules (See pictures below). Players can race as individuals or in Teams racing.
The rules are simple and straightforward and allow ample opportunity for tactics particularly in Teams Racing. Game play enables cars to pass, block and push other cars, following NZ stock car racing rules as closely as possible to make the game authentic.
I obtained my copy from Slotcar Stockcars in NZ.
The last board game in the UK was Stock Car, launched in 1980 at a cost of £7.00. Recently a copy was sold on eBay for £16.00 but the auction didn't seem to generate much interest.
Having both board games, I was interested to find that the detailed die cast stock car playing pieces on the UK game fitted on to the NZ playing board and vice versa and that can only add extra spice to the Teams Racing!
RESULT OF 2015 SUPERSTOCK TEAMS CHAMPIONSHIP
Took place at Palmerston North International Speedway on 6th & 7th February.
CHAMPIONS: Palmerston North Panthers
RUNNERS UP: Wanganui Warriors
3rd: Baypark Brawlers, 4th: Manawatu Mustangs
5th: Hawke's Bay Hawkeyes, 6th: Auckland Allstars
7th: Wellington Wildcats, 8th: GB Lions
A great effort by the GB Lions: Frankie Wainman Jnr, Danny Wainman, Craig Finnikin, Neil Scothern and Michael Scriven but a combination of mechanical problems and bad luck worked against them.
1:24 NZ SLOTSTOX CAR IN LIVERY OF TEAM GB LIONS
While in NZ in 2014 I managed to acquire a 1:24 scale Slotstox car from an enthusiast, who had set up a slot track at the Superstock Teams Championship in Palmerston North and for a fee was letting youngsters race slotstox cars round it.
Unfortunately, despite the use of bubblewrap, the plastic body was badly damaged during the journey home and I have had to make a new one. Decided to paint it in Team GB Lions colours as a tribute to the success of the UK drivers since 2009.
The finished car is pictured below together with a brief record of the British Lions' results and the drivers who made it possible (updated to include 2015):
2014 WORLD 240s & SUPERSTOCK TEAMS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Ever since the GB Lions began competing in the Superstock Teams Championship in 2009 and quickly became serious competition for the kiwi teams, I have wanted to travel to New Zealand and watch it live. That dream came true this year and the two big Championships involving UK drivers became part of a five week tour of New Zealand's North and South Islands.
On the way out we stopped over in Melbourne, Australia for a couple of nights coinciding with an abnormal heat wave that saw temperatures reach in excess of 42 degrees centigrade. So it was somewhat of a relief to reach a more equable climate as we landed in Auckland NZ on 17th January and picked up our hire car to drive the 275 kms to Rotorua for the World 240s Championship at Paradise Valley Raceway.
The first night consisted of qualification races for the World 240s and 67 Superstock cars competed, split between three groups. The top six points scorers from each group went forward to compete for the Championship Title on day two and joined five other drivers already seeded through: 515GB Frankie Wainman Jnr, 1GB Tom Harris, 217GB Lee Fairhurst, 1NZ Shane Penn and 87B Thomas Stanaway. These seeded drivers had three practice races in between the qualification heats.
The first event on Saturday night was a consolation semi-final from which 58P Peter Bengston, 97R Pat Westbury and 88R Clive Stanaway qualified.
There were three races for the 26 qualifiers and at the end of an exciting action packed night the top three points scorers were: the new World 240s Champion 58P Peter Bengston (had qualified from the consolation semi-final), 515GB Frankie Wainman Jnr and 126P Asher Rees. Frankie demonstrated great racing skills, utilising all his past experience of NZ racing and he received superb, unselfish support from Tom Harris. Lee Fairhurst had mechanical problems that effectively put him out after race one.
Overall some very entertaining, thrilling racing over the two nights. The clutch starts with the cars nose to tail was reminiscent of UK stock car racing from days gone by and made for some exciting first and second bend clashes.
A full report with detailed results for both nights can be seen on the Paradise Valley Raceway website at www.rotoruaspeedway.co.nz and click on results at the top of the page.
Below is a picture of yours truly with Lee Fairhurst sat on the 217GB car and the meeting programme cover:
Still buzzing from the two night's of racing, it was back on the road touring until the Superstock Teams on the 7th and 8th February.
Our journey from Rotorua took us to Levin, Wellington (where we experienced tremors from an earthquake some distance away), Ferry to Picton on South Island, Blenheim, Christchurch (the devastation caused by the 6.3 magnitude earthquake on 22nd February 2011 was distressing to see but the resilience of the people is an inspiration), Franz Joseph, Queenstown, Doubtful Sound, Te Anau, Dunedin, Lake Tekapo, Picton for the ferry back to Wellington on North Island and then to Palmerston North for three days.
The Superstock Teams Championship has been well documented in the past and having seen the pictures, read the books and watched the DVDs, I thought I had a good idea what to expect. Wrong! The whole spectacle, not just the racing that I witnessed on the 7th and 8th February 2014 exceeded my expectations by a long way. It is action packed stock car racing that has to be seen to be believed and the atmosphere inside the packed Robertston Holden International Speedway Stadium was a steaming cauldron of sound and a riot of colour - electrifying!
Mid-morning on the 7th February, Palmerston North was already filling with stock car fans from all over NZ proudly wearing a huge variety of team wear. We bumped into some Nelson Tigers fans in the shopping mall bedecked in their orange team colours. It could have been a Dutch invasion! They were extremely friendly as they spotted our GB Lions shirts and very informative about the racing format. It quickly became evident how popular the GB Lions were among all the kiwi fans.
Scrutineering of cars took place in the centre of the town with the fans able to get up close and personal with the cars and drivers and watch proceedings. A wonderful public advert for the event. Everywhere you looked were a myriad of team colours, life-size mascots, and memorabilia on sale with plenty of friendly banter between opposing team supporters. It was a real carnival atmosphere.
Later, in the stadium, the cars of the GB Lions were surrounded in the pits by fans keen to see which kiwi drivers had loaned cars to the Brits. This year the Lions were short on experience of NZ style team racing among some of the drivers: 00GB Neil Scothern, 01GB Daz Kitson, 02GB Chris Brocksopp, 03GB Tom Harris and 04GB Richard Hart (ex F2 driver who is now resident in NZ and drafted in as a reserve for Chris Fort who suffered a neck injury in a practice event in Auckland), but being led and organised by very experienced Managers in Tony McLanachan, Peter Falding and Guy Parker.
I'm not going to provide full race reports as they are available on the Palmerston North website at www.pnspeedway.co.nz and click on news and results. Also Alan Skayman has produced excellent race reports on the Team GB website, in the current BSCDA Newsletter and they will doubtless appear in the next Stock Car Magazine.
Team racing tactics are all important but need to be flexible during a race to adapt to changing fortunes. So a blocker could become a runner and vice versa. With points allocated to the first five cars to finish the 12 racing laps as 100, 40, 25, 20 and 10, it is essential to get one of your cars over the line first to earn the 100 points and guarantee victory. Even if the opposition finished in the next four places they will only accumulate 95 points. However, points scored for minor places are just as vital for your overall cumulative score when your total points haul over two matches is totted up.
A clear example of this was seen in Group B. Team GB lost their first match against Nelson Tigers 50-145 but bounced back to beat Rotorua Rebels in their second match by 170-25. When Rotorua Rebels then beat Nelson Tigers by 125-60, the cumulative points scores had GB Lions in first place with 220 followed by Nelson 205 and Rotorua 150.
The Lions gave their all, trading blows with the opposition and demonstrating great teamwork. Some of their cars looked the worse for wear at the end of Friday's racing and this is where the mechanics and other helpers come to the fore. Thanks to their combined skill and much burning of the midnight oil, Team GB Lions were able to field all their cars on the Saturday night.
When a team is eliminated the fans of that particular team don't just go home, they move their allegiance temporarily to another team. They love the action and the fierce passion seen on track. This is helped by the big screens in the stadium and speedy replays of on-track action especially rollovers - they get the loudest cheers. In between races there are interviews from the pits shown on the big screens including shots of mechanics working on damaged cars.
There are several referees keeping a close watch for infringements from an elevated box and also on the centre green. Not allowed is attacking coming off the centre or contacting another car while part of your car is over the pole line (the inner boundary of the track). When red lights are shown drivers are expected to stop immediately and any driver slow to react can be moved back for the clutch restart.
Between 15,000 and 20,000 spectators filled the stadium on both nights giving the occasion the kind of charged atmosphere that reminded me of the 1982 BriSCA World Final at the old Belle Vue stadium when 2 Willie Harrison finally achieved his dream of the World Title.
Sunshine had replaced the rain threatening clouds by the start of racing on the Saturday night and once again we were treated to an action packed evening of outstanding competitive Superstock Teams racing.
Sadly it was not to be for the GB Lions. They fought gallantly, bravely putting their bodies and cars on the line but lost to Wanganui Warriors 0-140 in a brutal confrontation. Only two Warriors cars finished and Daz Kitson required medical attention, Richard Hart was injured and Neil Scothern's car caught fire! As a result the Lions could only field three cars for their final match to decide 5th and 6th places, driven by Tom Harris, Neil Scothern and Chris Brocksopp against a full strength Auckland Allstars team. There was really only one outcome likely and the Lions lost 25-160.
So for the second year running it was a 6th place finish overall for Team GB Lions but that was still ahead of teams such as Nelson Tigers and multi champions Palmerston Panthers, and they still warranted a standing ovation from the kiwi crowd.
Everyone of the Lions, their Managers, mechanics, NZ helpers and supporters did the UK proud. Certainly all the kiwi fans we spoke to continue to be highly impressed with their skill, passion, commitment and ability to adapt so readily to teams racing. Many said that the competition would not be the same without the annual appearance of the GB Lions.
Below are pictures of Team GB Lions, the Champions - Baypark Busters and the programme cover:
Still high on adrenalin after a stock car racing experience that I will never, ever forget, it was once more back on the road. For those still interested in the touring itinerary, maybe for future reference, our remaining time in NZ took us from Palmerston North to Hamilton, Warkworth, Paihia, Auckland and then home to the UK via Sydney, Australia and Dubai. In all we drove 5500 kms and flew almost 23,000miles.
New Zealand is a country of stunning outstanding natural beauty with breath-taking vistas on both islands seemingly around every corner. Combine that with quality stock car racing as well and I now understand why some lucky UK fans try to go every year. I would certainly do it all over again in a heartbeat!
Hope you enjoyed this summary of our five week tour. If you have any questions please use my on-site comments form and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.
1:24 SLOTCAR STOCKCARS IN NEW ZEALAND
I came across this bigger scale of Slotstox racing in 2014 while on a trip to New Zealand that incorporated the Individual World 240 cubic inch Championship at Rotorua and the Superstock Teams Championship at Palmerston North.
At the Robertson Holden Internatonal Speedway Stadium in Palmerston North, the Slotcar Stockcars New Zealand Club had set up a slot track and for a modest charge spectators could have a go and it was busy throughout the two days of the Teams Championship, especially with youngsters. I was able to purchase one of the slotstox cars that is featured earlier on this page. As mentioned, the body of the car was all but destroyed on the journey back to the UK and I had to make a replacement by using the remains of the old one as a template. The car was then painted in the GB Lions livery.
Having always admired the NZ Tank Superstock cars, I ordered a slotstox version from Slotcar Stockcars in NZ and I was very pleased with the finished car of 8p Scott Meirs in the colours of the Palmerston Panthers Superstock Team. Scotty Meirs has represented New Zealand at three World Finals in the UK, finishing 9th in 2000 but failing to finish in 2009 and 2010. In New Zealand, Scott is the most successful driver the Teams Championship has ever seen with 10 titles to his name.
A picture of the Scott Meirs Superstock Tank car and the GB Lions Superstock car appears below:
For further information about Slotcar Stockcars in New Zealand go to their website using the following link: http://www.124thslots.co.nz where you will also get a link to their Facebook page full of interesting news and updates. (Update 2016: alternatively, try the Facebook page of Small Scale Speedway NZ)
BACKGROUND TO STOCK CAR RACING IN NZ
Stock Car Racing was introduced to New Zealand late in 1954 as a result of what NZ speedway riders, racing in the UK at the time, had witnessed when the sport made its debut at Harringay Speedway in April 1954 and subsequently at many other speedway and greyhound racing tracks.
The popularity of the sport in NZ ebbed and flowed in the early years, until its successful introduction at Palmerston North by promoter Ray New in 1963, who was trying to reverse the dwindling crowds attending speedway meetings. He had learned a lot in the UK where he raced for two seasons under the name of Steve Storm. This success seems to have been the turning point for stock car racing in NZ and the sport spread to the provincial towns of North Island.
As time went on, more tracks were opened and in 1974 the Woodford Glen track at Christchurch began running the same type of cars and to the same rules as the various North Island tracks, all under the ACU Speedway Control Board. Stock car racing became a true NZ National sport and it has continued to grow in popularity among drivers and spectators to the present day. Curiously, oval racing in NZ has the generic name of Speedway, a term probably that refers to tracks as Speedways as opposed to what we associate in the UK with motorbikes on shale.
As in the UK, the cars have evolved from 1930's V8's with armour added, costing NZ$50 in 1954, to purpose built Superstocks with full steel chassis and hi-tech engines and suspensions that can cost up to NZ$100,000 (£50,000) today. In the 1980's the concern over rising costs led to the introduction of standard stockcars that have become a National Class referred to as StockCars. It is a very popular formula with the same rules as for Superstocks but has technical restraints to keep costs in check: specific race tyres are not permitted, engines are limited to standard fittings and most hi-tech parts are either illegal or of no benefit. The cars weigh around the same, have a slower speed than the Supers but the action is just as entertaining and it is an excellent breeding ground for aspiring Superstock drivers.
The Superstock cars are built with heavy, deliberate contact in mind. Purpose built chassis, solid front and rear bumpers, solid nerf rails with both back wheels protected and 240 cubic inch V8 engines producing 400+ bhp. They have a variety of hybrid mechanical equipment and a range of imported race parts to produce a car with a maximum weight of 1500 kgs and minimum weight of 1400 kgs. They are capable of speeds approaching 150 kph. There is a high standard of safety demanded by the rulebook but with full blooded contact permitted and expected under racing conditions, it is not for the faint-hearted. It is no coincidence that Superstocks and Stockcars have been one of NZ's most popular sporting entertainments for over 50 years.
For many years there has been a driver exchange agreement between the UK and NZ and drivers from the UK have competed in NZ Championship events and NZ drivers have represented their country in the UK. Fans will remember appreciating the skills of Peter Rees, Scotty Miers and Scott Joblin on the UK ovals.
WORLD 240'S INVITATION CHAMPIONSHIP
This is one of NZ's top Championships and an event that has seen a consistently strong challenge from UK F1 drivers with considerable success, despite deliberate 'team' tactics by NZ drivers in an effort to ensure the title remains on home soil.
In 1987, 501 Chris Elwell was the first UK driver to bring the World 240 title back across the world. 53 John Lund almost repeated that achievement in 1988 finishing second and a year later he had the Championship in his grasp only to be taken out big-time by Kiwi Dave Evans on the last lap. It became clear that if UK drivers were ever to emulate Chris Elwell, help would be needed from fellow UK drivers to combat the team tactics deployed by the Kiwis.
515 Frankie Wainman Jnr would be the first to acknowledge the vital assistance he received from fellow UK drivers when the Union Jack flew high and proud in 1997, 2000 and again in 2009 as, racing under the number 55r, he won the World 240 Championship in the face of determined, forceful opposition from the best superstock car drivers in NZ. In so doing he became the first driver ever to win three World 240 titles. His car for the 2009 campaign was built in the UK to conform to NZ rules and regulations and shipped to the other side of the world.
My model of this car is pictured below:
248 SUPERSTOCK GLOBAL CHALLENGE
This is an annual Championship that also attracts entries from UK drivers but to date we have yet to record an overall victory. The eventual Champion is decided over three races. 53 John Lund has come close to winning but the NZ drivers are adept at ensuring that visitors do not take away the silverware!!
SUPERSTOCK TEAMS CHAMPIONSHIP
This is said to be the most popular event in NZ stock car racing. There is a set of rules that governs the event but watching dvd's of the action and reading reports you can be forgiven for thinking it is literally no holds barred: full blooded contact, team tactics thrown wide open, blocking, nerfing, side swipes, stoppages, fires, extensive car damage, cars playing hares and hounds and all played out to the deafening vocal and horn blaring reactions of a 15,000 capacity crowd. It's hard to believe that this action stems from two teams of four cars. Think of mixing the action from a UK F1 World Final with that from a 2L Saloon Stock Car World Championship and throw in some Banger Destruction Derby antics for good measure and you will come close to what a Superstock Team Race serves up.
The Championship normally takes place annually at the beginning of February. Team GB - The British Lions first competed in the Teams Championship in 2009 finishing in an amazing 3rd place and to demonstrate this was no fluke, they returned in 2010 and finished 2nd with Tom Harris being crowned 'Entertainer of the Team Weekend'. In 2011 The British Lions finished 5th and this year 2012 they finished 3rd; simply outstanding results against the more experienced NZ teams. It just confirms how adaptable and skilful UK stock car drivers are when they compete away from the BriSCA ovals. Adaptability that has seen 84 Tom Harris, more used to racing all out for a win, being hailed as a highly rated blocker. Over the last four years Team GB has been superbly represented by Frankie Wainman Jnr (Captain), Tom Harris, Mick Harris, Mark Taylor, Stu Smith Jnr, Craig Finnikin, Matt Newson and Daniel Wainman.
(FOR SUBSEQUENT CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS SCROLL TO END OF PAGE.)
Pictured below are the Team GB cars in 2009. My thanks to Colin Casserley, top stock car photographer, for allowing me to use these pictures. See more of his photographs at www.stoxphotos.com:
Car 00 Mick Harris, car 01 Frankie Wainman Jnr, car 02 Tom Harris, car 03 Stu Smith Jnr and car 04 Mark Taylor.
Below is a publicity poster for the GB Lions
For those who are unfamiliar with the Team Racing format, here is a brief run down. Some of the information has been obtained from members of the Macgors New Zealand Speedway website.
12 teams compete over two days. After a public draw, the teams are split into three groups of four. Within each group teams race twice on day one, with the points scored in each race added together. The four highest points scoring teams go through to day two as the top tier to compete in a semi final and a final for the Superstock Teams Championship title, while the teams that finished fifth to eighth form the second tier on day two and the remaining four teams are eliminated. On day two, the top scoring losing semi finalist from tier one takes on the highest scoring team from tier two for third and fourth places, and the other teams compete for fifth to eighth places based on points scored.
There are four cars in each team with a fifth car as reserve and the points allocated are 100 for the win, 40 for 2nd, 25 for 3rd, 20 for 4th and 10 for 5th.
Team races take place over 12 laps including the semi finals and the final is run over 15 laps. Any run-offs between teams on equal points is decided over 15 laps.
Each team has a Team Manager who talks tactics with his team of drivers. Some drivers are nominated as runners who go all out for the win and others are blockers, usually in the stronger cars known as 'Tanks', who try to protect the runners by blocking and taking out the opposition cars. Tactics are understandably kept confidential but in most races these plans have to be quickly adapted to the changing face of the race. Drivers use race stoppages to look around and assess how the team is faring and the more experienced drivers are able to do this instinctively. Runners can become blockers and vice versa. Once a car completes the required race distance and receives the chequered flag, the remaining places are decided from transponder data and lap charts that record the number of laps completed by each car in the race. With so many points allocated to the winner, every effort is made by teams to get a driver over the line in first place.
The eight cars, four from each team, line up in twos in closed formation. A coin is tossed to see which team has pole position and the other three cars from that team take outside row 2, inside row 3 and outside row 4, with their rivals in the alternate starting positions. It is a clutch start when the green flag is waved.
The action has to be seen to be believed. Those who have been lucky enough to witness the racing live in NZ or via Speedbox on the web will undoubtedly confirm it is must see stock car racing that takes entertainment to another level with unbelievable hits, lightening driver reactions and tactical awareness under extreme pressure. For The British Lions to take on more experienced NZ teams at this variation of stock car racing and come away with success while winning legions of fans among the Kiwi spectators is a real credit to the depth of quality among drivers of F1 stock car racing in the UK. For those home supporters who travel to NZ to support the team it must give them immense pride.
Congratulations to all the UK drivers who have represented Team GB on their success to date: success that has made them real contenders for the Championship Title in the coming years. Credit must also go to Team Manager, Tony Maclanachan, a New Zealander whose vast experience of the Superstock Teams Championship is a vital ingredient of the team's achievements, and also to the many sponsors, organisers and supporters who all play an essential role.
Raising funds to help finance Team GB is vital to keep making the annual challenge possible and a way in which supporters can help is to purchase the Team GB merchandise either from the Team GB website or by bidding on the regular ebay auctions.
Below are pictures of the Team GB polo shirt for 2012 that I purchased from the website at www.teamgbracing.co.uk:
(N.B. I have had the results and driver names added to the original shirt)
While researching this feature, I exchanged emails with a fellow model maker in NZ who constructs amazing Superstock models that take up to six months to build. They are scratch-built with the chassis made from wood. The tyres are turned from MDF and the rims made out of steel. The wheel centres are pressed steel. The body is first made out of preserving wax that is carved to the correct shape. Then a silicone mould is made so that several bodies can be reproduced out of fibre glass. The models are 510mm (20 inches) long and 280mm (11 inches) wide. Each model is completed with stunning graphics.
Pictured below is one of these outstanding models:
Came across an excellent book by NZ author Greg Parsloe running to 226 pages covering a Speedway Review of NZ's 2010/2011 season. There is a report on each meeting during the season and plenty of excellent photographs. It provides the reader with a real insight into stock car racing in New Zealand. It is not cheap but worth looking at the first few pages, free of charge, on the Blurb.com website. The cover of the book is pictured below:
The Superstock Teams Championship took place at Palmerston North Speedway on 8th & 9th January.
13 teams took part in the qualifying races on the Friday night. Team GB Lions were represented by 00GB Murray Harrison, 01GB Frankie Wainman Jnr (driving a tank), 02GB Daniel Wainman, 03GB Ryan Harrison and 04GB Mark Taylor with Mark Woodhull as the reserve sixth driver. Team Manager was again the highly experienced Tony McClanachan.
RESULTS FOR 8TH JANUARY (each team raced twice)
Waikato Wanderers 130 Stratford Scrappers 65
Manawatu Mustangs 135 Rotorua Rebels 60
Baypark Busters 150 Auckland All Stars 45
GB Lions 125 Wanganui Warriors 40
Nelson Tigers 110 Canterbury Glen Eagles 85
Hawksbay Hawkeyes 125 Wellington Wildcats 40
Palmerston Panthers 165 Stratford Scrappers 30
Manawatu Mustangs 150 Waikato Wanderers 45
Baypark Busters 185 Rotorua Rebels 0
GB Lions 150 Auckland All Stars 45
Canterbury Glen Eagles 100 Wanganui Warriors 85
Hawksbay Hawkeyes 100 Nelson Tigers 85
Palmerston Panthers 170 Wellington Wildcats 25
TIER 1 TEAMS
Palmerston Panthers 335 pts
Baypark Busters 335 pts ( settled for 2nd place to avoid a potentially damaging run-off with the Panthers!)
Manawatu Mustangs 285 pts
GB Lions 275 pts
TIER 2 TEAMS
Hawksbay Hawkeyes 225 pts
Nelson Tigers 195 pts
Canterbury Glen Eagles 185 pts
Waikato Wanderers 175 pts
(rest of teams eliminated)
RESULTS FOR 9TH JANUARY
Palmerston Panthers 150 GB Lions 45
Manawatu Mustangs 125 Baypark Busters 70
Hawksbay Hawkeyes 135 Waikato Wanderers 60
Nelson Tigers 145 Canterbury Glen Eagles 50
RACE FOR 5TH & 6TH PLACES
Hawksbay Hawkeyes 130 GB Lions 65
RACE FOR 3RD & 4TH PLACES
Nelson Tigers 145 Baypark Busters 40
RACE FOR 1ST & 2ND PLACES
Palmerston Panthers 195 Manawatu Mustangs 0
So congratulations to multiple winners and defending champions Palmerston Panthers.
Well done also to Team GB Lions who finished 6th but acquitted themselves well and did GB proud. Their race against the eventual champions, Palmerston Panthers, was said to have been the best race of the two day meeting with plenty of action, huge hits, strategic racing, massive car damage for both teams and plenty of bumps and bruises for the drivers.
Team GB Lions will be back in 2014 for a renewed assault on the Superstock Teams Championship and fans can support their efforts by purchasing fund raising items via their website at teamgbracing.co.uk
Below is a pic of the 2013 Teams Championship programme including a page on the GB Lions team: