By Colin Smith
A feature race victory was a bonus. The result Tauranga’s Rodney Wood wanted from Saturday night’s Bays of Thunder meeting took a lot more work than 20 fast-paced laps around Baypark Speedway.
For more than a week in the lead-up to the meeting, Wood and a team of helpers had ripped apart and re-laid the track surface at Baypark.
The two-time New Zealand Sprint Car champion was confident that he had a solution to the inconsistent track conditions that have affected the speedway for several years.
Competitive racing on a smoother surface for the 15-race programme showed the new approach is on the right track and Wood says the proof was in the wide racing line.
“That was so much fun,” said Wood after dominating the 20-lap Sprint Car feature race.
“It’s been a few years since I could race out wide through turns three and four.”
Wood made a clean sweep of the three sprint car races, leading home Colin Entwisle and Greg Pickerill in the feature race.
A 20-car field fronted for the Scrapman Super Stock ‘Bays of Thunder’ with Tauranga’s Ryan Hunt delivering a strong three-race effort to top the point standings with two-thirds and a sixth placing. Kerry Remnant defeated Dan Pollock in a run-off for second as Baypark drivers fended off Rotorua and Hawke’s Bay visitors.
The most competitive of the feature races saw Chris Cowling battle through to win in the Super Saloons. Cowling had to pass two of his close friends and toughest rivals in the 20-lapper as he led home 2020 national champ Sam Waddell and reigning champ Peter Dickson, who was immediately competitive on his first Baypark appearance of the summer.
Auckland racer Laurie Petersen was another who revelled in the rejuvenated racing surface and raced to a clear win in the Six Shooters feature race ahead of Rotorua’s Boyd Westbury.
Jarred Fletcher (Cambridge) needed two attempts to nail the set-up of his Corvette Saloon Car. The North Island champ struggled in the first heat, “threw the toolbox” at the car with big changes for heat two which transformed the handling and then raced clear to win the feature by half-a-lap ahead of Tokoroa’s Chris Taylor.