Speedway: Cowling beats class field

By Stuart Whitaker

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Speedway driver, Tauranga's Chris Cowling, has won the eight round Pro Dirt Burger King Super Saloon Series. Photo / Stuart Whitaker
Speedway driver, Tauranga's Chris Cowling, has won the eight round Pro Dirt Burger King Super Saloon Series. Photo / Stuart Whitaker

After eight rounds of sometimes frenetic oval track racing, Tauranga's Chris Cowling has come out on top in the 2015-16 Pro Dirt Burger King Super Saloon Series.

Cowling finished the feature race at the final round of the series at the weekend in third place.

It gave him the title with 1599 points ahead of two-time winner Mark Osborne, second on 1570, Mark Pitcher (1549) and Terry Corin, also from Tauranga, on 1540.

Three of the top four drivers - Cowling, Corin and Christchurch-based Osborne - display an M on their cars indicating they are registered to Baypark Family Speedway.

A complex points scoring system, plus the ability to drop the points from one of the rounds, meant it was difficult for Cowling to gauge what he needed to do going into the final round at Napier's Meeanee Speedway.

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"I kind of went in there with a clear frame of mind and treated it as just another meeting because if you start worrying about those things you run the risk of doing something stupid."

It is only the second year Cowling, son of former New Zealand Super Saloon Champion Maurice Cowling, has raced the series, and only his second season in a super saloon. He also drives in the lower powered saloon class and in the 2013-14 season was New Zealand Saloon car champion. Brother Steve won the saloon championship last season.

Chris finished 15th in last year's super saloon series after scoring points in just four rounds.

"We had motor trouble most of the way through - we turned up at Palmy one round, unloaded and started to go through scrutineering and the motor gave up. It was kind of a start-stop affair the whole series."

Cowling crashed out of this season's second round feature race, making that the obvious round from which to drop points, but the series highlight came at the Baypark round held on the same night the track hosted the New Zealand Sprint Car Championship in January.

"That was the coolest one - winning that one for me was a highlight of my career along with winning the (New Zealand) saloon title, because it was at home, it was a slick track and because of the crowd that was there for the sprint car title."

The next on-track assignment for Cowling is the New Zealand Super Saloon Championship on March 11-12, again in Napier.

"The last time I went to the champs in Wellington I ended up in a first corner pile up, so I'm hoping I will last three heats this time."

He said he will be happy with a top 10 finish.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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