The 46th New Zealand Sprint Car Championship title has been decided, and the name etched on the silverware is that of Jonathan Allard.
Held at Baypark Family Speedway on January 6, the days of warm weather and earlier meetings on the clay-based surface had made track preparation fairly difficult. Throw in vehicles that make between 800hp and 900hp, weigh just 600kg, and suck moisture out of the surface, meant that drivers were faced with a track that offered very little, while coating everyone in the arena in clay dust. Regardless of the setting, there is still something very special about the sound that 24,000 combined horsepower makes, and a decent crowd enjoyed the night’s racing.
Piloting the Narellan Pools 0USA, American-born season-long Western Springs–based Allard was clean through traffic, and spent his first heat searching for any grip that the track could offer. The outcome of the night could easily have been very different when a tumbling 44T Daniel Anderson got upside down near the 0USA car in the first heat, but once Allard settled into his work he would go on to earn enough points over two heat races to give himself a front-row start for the 30-lap feature to decide a champion. From pole position it was only ever going to be misfortune that would stop Jonathan claiming the New Zealand title for the second time, and with 24 laps passing before the first caution, the class of the field was clear and the title belonged to the Allard Motorsports team. Jonathan performed his customary wing-top crowd salute to end the night. You can follow Jonathan and the team via his Facebook page.
Sitting on grid two for the final was former champion, and constant threat, Dean Brindle in the Traffic Management 22. Hamilton-based Brindle and the Kebbell Motorsport team always present a classy-looking vehiclem, and took a deserved second spot from a fast-finishing Kapiti Cars 82p Jamie Larsen. Larsen had a week earlier won the New Zealand Minisprint title, and deserved his third-place finish with a strong drive through the field after starting a little further back on the grid than he might have expected. With many years ahead of him in the class — should he keep racing — a 1NZ won't be too far away.
For now though, one man stands out above the rest, and that is Jonathan Allard.
Thanks to Baypark’s Bernie Gillon and Steve ‘The Maori’ Daniel for hosting me down at the event.
Next meeting at the venue is Friday, January 15. For more information visit bayparkspeedway.co.nz.