Motorsport: Local favourite looks for repeat

By Colin Smith

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New Zealand Sprint Car Champion Rodney Wood.
New Zealand Sprint Car Champion Rodney Wood.

Fresh from winning the national sprint car title, Wood is raring to go
Auckland racer Daniel Eggleton is the defending North Island Sprint Car champion.

In his first appearance back on "home dirt" since winning the New Zealand Sprint Car title earlier this month, Tauranga's Rodney Wood is looking for history to repeat itself tomorrow night.

Mt Maunganui's Baypark Speedway hosts the North Island Sprint Car Championship this weekend as part of a big double-header meeting with the Burger King Pro-Dirt Super Saloon Car Series.

At least 20 Sprint Car drivers are chasing the North Island title with Wood leading the entry and looking to repeat the 2010 North Island Champs title success he achieved the last time the event was staged at Baypark.

"It's quite bizarre how the calendar has worked out this year and we're out to duplicate what we achieved back in 2010," says Wood.

That was the year when Wood first won the NZ title at Cromwell then backed up that success with his North Island win at Baypark.

He's already won the 2014 New Zealand title (at Cromwell again) and is looking to keep the momentum going.

"There's one area where I'd like to improve on 2010. That year we ran third in the NZ Grand Prix behind two Americans [Jonathan Allard and Ricky Logan] at Western Springs. We go back to Western Springs again [on March 1] for this year's Grand Prix."

Interestingly Wood hasn't won a home track feature race this summer.

"We had some little problems and a bit of bad luck early in the season," he says.

"At the last Baypark meeting [December 27], Michael Pickens rolled right in front of me in the first heat and I was forced out with a broken nerf bar. Then we damaged the front end in the second heat so I had to start from the back in the feature and got through to fourth.

"That's when I knew we had a good car and we were fast enough to do the business," says Wood.

California's Jonathan Allard is likely to provide the strongest opposition to Wood while former national champions Dean Brindle (Hamilton) and Jamie McDonald (Auckland) - who completed the podium alongside Wood at the recent NZ title in Cromwell - have already shown feature race winning form at Baypark this year and will also be strong contenders.

The defending champion is Aucklander Daniel Eggleton who won the 2013 event at Palmerston North last season and is another Baypark feature winner this summer.

The field also includes reigning New Zealand Midget Car Champion Pickens (Auckland) and top-line contenders including former national champion Carl Wilson (Auckland), Tokoroa brothers James and Keaton Dahm, Mt Maunganui's Bradley Tyrrell and Colin Entwisle, Hamilton racer Greg Pickerill and New Plymouth's Skinny Colson.

The title format will include two heats for each driver and a pole-shuffle to decide grids for a 25-lap final.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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