Motorsport: Top two in southern battle

By Colin Smith


Baypark super saloon car racers Brent Emerson and Gavin Dyer - the in-form drivers of the summer with two home-track feature race wins each - head into this weekend's New Zealand title races in Christchurch with vastly different levels of big-race experience.

Mount Maunganui's Emerson has won the national title twice (2008 and 2010) and ranks among the favourites for the contest tomorrow and Saturday night at Woodford Glen Speedway.

But Tauranga racer Dyer is not only competing in an NZ Super Saloon Car title for the first time, he's only raced once at a track other than Baypark during a saloon and super saloon career stretching more than 10 years.

The pair lead a Baypark contingent that also sees Tauranga's Kristin Vermeulen and Kevin Moore and Putaruru racer Paul Carter among a 39-strong entry list.

Already this season Emerson has won two of the four rounds in the Burger King Pro Dirt Series to secure the series lead as well as a commanding win in the Baypark 30-lapper this month - the most recent outing with his new Lovelady Chassis Shelby Mustang.

"We've had a good run this season and without wanting to be cocky about it, that's a good way to be going into the title," Emerson said.

The Mustang was constructed by Canterbury chassis builder John Lovelady. The strongest attribute of his designs is generally regarded to be traction on a slick track, which is likely to be an extremely useful scenario at Woodford Glen this weekend.

"It's good to be settled in with the new car, and if the track really slicks off and goes away then I will have John there to help us, and no one has more experience of the Woodford Glen track," said Emerson.

While Emerson is a veteran of touring the nation's speedway tracks, Dyer has never ventured further than just over an hour away from home to go racing.

"Apart from half a meeting at Kihikihi in my saloon about 10 years ago, I've only ever raced at Baypark," said Dyer.

He says a likely retirement from the sport has provided the motivation for lining up at Woodford Glen.

"I think this could turn out to be my last season and I don't want to have any regrets for not having tried.

"I've got a good car but I'm pretty realistic about my chances."

Defending champion Steve Flynn (Napier) and former champion Donald Gregory (Wellington) are also in the field.

Emerson rates Nelson racer Ian Burson as the leading threat in a strong South Island contingent.

Qualifying is tomorrow night, with the 39 entries split into three groups to find 18 qualifiers.

Two more will progress from a last chance repechage on Saturday, with the title decided over a three-race points format.

Meanwhile, racing at Baypark this Saturday night includes round two of the Top Half Midget Car Series and the BOP Championships for sprint cars and saloon cars.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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