Christchurch’s Jamie Duff has returned from a racing ban to blow away his rivals at Ruapuna Speedway.
Duff came into the meeting in second place for round five of the Hydraulink War of the Wings (WOW) Sprintcar series, four points behind Luke Keegan.
But he finished the night with commanding lead by more than 60 points with two rounds remaining after completely dominating the 25-lap feature event to claim his fourth WOW round win this season.
Duff faced a 21-day ban after a crew member’s verbal brush with a Speedway New Zealand official at the New Zealand Sprintcar championship.
The incident happened after Duff was forced to the infield by SNZ officials when having to stop twice on the opening laps of the final, even though he was not the prime cause.
The ruling cost Duff any hope of claiming a second national title and saw SNZ rewrite the race rules just days after the meeting.
Duff, chasing his second overall win the $60,000 WOW series, finished second in his first heat behind Australian Allan Woods and then had a titanic battle with Sam O’Callaghan (Cromwell). The two cars raced side by side over the last half of the race with O’Callaghan taking victory by less than a car length.
Keegan, who had finished second to Shaun Ashton in the opening heat, saw his series lead evaporate during heat four when tangling with Matt Honeywell coming out of the Town bend on lap two.
Keegan’s car rode the safety fence and rolled, causing damage to the chassis which ended the former three-time NZ Modified champion’s meeting. Honeywell the defending WOW title holder was also out of the re-run which was won by Matt Leversedge (Auckland) from Jason Scott (Cromwell) and Woods.
Duff and Wood finished top on points and started the 25-lap feature on the front row of the grid.
Wood jumped the start with Duff leading out on the restart from the Australian. Wood’s race was over when spinning on the Prison Bend, causing front-end damage on lap six, with Scott who was in third place also forced to retire, along with Ashton, in fifth place, after tangling trying to avoid Woods.
On lap ten, Honeywell was black flagged a with a missing inside nerf.
At each re-start Duff’s dominance was such that he quickly pulled away with ease from Leversedge with Steve Sullivan (Nelson) and Martin Harcourt, both having their best run in the series in third and fourth place respectively.
Duff’s win was never in doubt with Leversdege a distant second with Sullivan holding out the fast finishing Harcourt for third place.
The series moves to Dunedin next weekend with the final round at Cromwell over Easter and while Duff looks to be control of the series he is not looking too far ahead.
“Luke [Keegan] and Matt [Honeywell] both had a bad run tonight so the same could happen to me in the coming rounds. The team will be looking for another good run next Saturday in Dunedin,” Duff said.
Glen Durie had to work hard to earn a clean sweep in the midgetcar class. All races were keenly contested with blanket finishes with Durie claiming heats wins ahead of Gary Chadwick and Scott Millar before he was pushed all the way in the feature by Scott Bailey and Chadwick.
Philippa Melrose and Liam McCoubrey were the standouts in their Three Quarter midgets, each winning a heat before battling it out in the feature with Melrose claiming a narrow win by 0.14 seconds. McCoubrey and Ben Morgan claimed the overall win the teams event.
After crashing out in the previous meeting, Courtney Jones drove her modified sprint to a win and a second place in the heats before heading home Brendan Daly and Matt Summerfield in the feature.
Daryl Wright continued his good form in the Six Shooter division, claiming two second placing in the heats before winning the feature from Andrew Gregge and Jason Manson, with Gregge and Manson claiming heat wins.
Oscar Harcourt impressed in his quarter midget when claiming all three races.
Results from Racecourse Hotel and Motorlodge Ruapuna Speedway on Saturday.
Hydraulink War of the Wings – Round 5 of 7
Ht 1. Shaun Ashton 1, Luke Keegan 2, Nathan Astle 3.
Ht 2. Allan Woods (Aust) 1, Jamie Duff 2, Kris Gerald 3.
Ht 3. Sam O’Callaghan (Cromwell) 1, J Duff 2, Martin Harcourt 3.
Ht 4. Matt Leversedge (Auck) 1, Jason Scott (Crom.) 2, Woods 3.
Feature. J Duff 1, Leversedge 2, Steve Sullivan (Nelson) 3, Harcourt 4, Ray Baughan 5, Scott 6, Conner Rangi (Nel.) 7, Matt Anderson (Te Anau) 8.
Round Points: Duff 118, Sullivan 110, Leversedge 98, Scott 87, Baughan 86, Harcourt 86, Anderson 73, Rangi 70, Simon Reiter (Nelson) 60, Matt Honeywell 58, Astle 55, Allan Chapman 55, Paddy North (Blenheim) 45, Woods 41, Steve Duff junior 37, Shaun Ashton 33, O’Callaghan 23, Luke Keegan 18, Kris Gerard (Nel.) 16
Provisional Overall Points: J Duff 451, Honeywell 389, Keegan 355, Scott 354, S Sullivan 323, Baughan 297, O’Callaghan 284, M Anderson 269, Astle 258, Ashton 248, Chapman 218, North 191, Gerard 181, Jackson Lovelady 180, Brett Sullivan (Nel.) 174, Greg Teece 151, Harcourt 129, Jason Smith (Nel.) 102, Mark Evans (Crom.) 101, Leversedge 98, Rieter 96, Daniel Anderson (Crom.) 76, Rangi 70, Daniel McKinnel (Invercargill) 63, Kyle Shearing (Inv.) 57, Greg Clemence 50, Alicia McLauchlan (Nel.) 46, Woods 41, Michael Gourley 41, S Duff 37, Trevor Wishart 33, Caleb Brooks 32, Luke Wederall 0.
Ht 1. Glen Durie 1, Gary Chadwick 2, Scott Millar 3.
Ht 2. Durie 1, Millar 2, Scott Bailey 3.
Feature. Durie 1, Bailey 2, Chadwick 3.
Three Quarter Midgetcars
Ht 1. Liam McCoubrey 1, Tyler Warnock 2, Kyle Glover 3.
Ht 2. Philippa Melrose 1, McCoubrey 2, Gareth Nixon 3.
Feature. Melrose 1, McCoubrey 2, Warnock 3.
Ht 1. Vernon McHaffie 1, Courtney Jones 2, Matt Davison 3.
Ht 2. Jones 1, Clayton Phillips 2, Brendan Daly 3.
Feature. Jones 1, Daly 2, Matt Summerfield 3.
Ht 1. Jason Manson 1, Daryl Wright 2, Neville Reese 3.
Ht 2. Andrew Gregge 1, Wright 2, Matt Doncliff 3.
Feature. Wright 1, Gregge 2, Manson 3.
Race 1. Oscar Harcourt 1, Dylan Forsey 2, Kane Jemmett 3.
Race 2. Harcourt 1, Jack Nairn 2, Forsey 3.
Final. Harcourt 1, Forsey 2, Grace Roxburgh 3