Former New Zealand sprint car champion Rodney Wood isn't used to waiting till March to achieve his first feature race victory in a speedway season.
But the Tauranga racer is hopeful that a commanding win in Saturday night's Gold Cup at Baypark is a timely return to form ahead of the North Island title this weekend at Palmerston North.
``It's been a while,'' said Wood, who won the second heat race and led home Hamilton's Dean Brindle and Auckland racer Michael Pickens in a dusty main event.
`` We've had some pretty good heat races early in the night when the track has had some drive but in the feature races on slicker tracks we've be going backwards.''
Wood upgraded to a later model Eagle chassis earlier this year and although it's similar to the cars he's raced throughout his sprint car career its taken time to fine-tune the set-up.
``It has just tried to take off towards the wall but tonight it felt like a different car. We've put some time into nutting out a new set-up and it worked superbly in race two and three.
``It's a real relief for us to be going to the North Islands next weekend with a much better slick track set-up.''
The meeting saw more extremes of track conditions at Baypark with the 17-car sprint car field whipping up a dust storm in only the fifth race of the night.
Watering between races only kept the dust under control for a handful of laps and the slick track and visibility problems contributed to pile-ups in several races, including the second heat of the BOP Super Saloon Car Champs which eliminated top contenders Craig Cardwell and Gavin Dyer for the night.
Some new tyres helped with the set-up on Karl Hanlon's Monaro and the Tauranga hard charger won the 18-lap final.
``I've been running on rubbish old tyres all season but I saved some new ones for tonight and the set-up on the car was really good,'' said Hanlon.
Hanlon had battled with Waihi's Mark Hutchins early in the race but a bent suspension arm saw Hutchins unable to steer his Corvette and it brushed the wall.
``It was good close racing with Mark. I'm not sure I would have been able to pass him,'' said Hanlon.
Brent Emerson had been another victim of the heat two pile-up but repaired his car to finish second ahead of Kristin Vermeulen.
Gisborne's Dan Corrin continued his winning form by taking victory in the Saloon Car feature race while Michelle Wymer narrowly edged out Steve Cowling for second spot.
Rotorua-based Scott Fredrickson had a successful night with two second places in the Stock Car heat races leading up to a feature race win.
Baypark Speedway - results:
Youth Mini Stocks:
Heat 1: 1 Aidon Decke 88m; 2 Jason Rowe 21a; 3 Wade Gore 44m. Heat 2: 1 Hayden Greenhalgh 8m; 2 Jason Gillon 43m; 3 Nathan Garnett 59r. Feature: Not Held.
BOP Champs, Heat 1: 1 Gavin Dyer 88m; 2 Jarred Fletcher 8m; 3 Trevor Rogers 4m. Heat 2: 1 Mark Hutchins 53m; 2 Karl Hanlon 76m; 3 John Roberts 43m. Feature: 1 Hanlon; 2 Brent Emerson 7m; 3 Kristin Vermeulen 12m.
Heat 1: 1 Eben Young 35m; 2 Scott Fredrickson 8r; 3 Ian Daniel 24m. Heat 2: 1 Scott Hayward 92m; 2 Fredrickson; 3 Nathan Smith 46m. Feature: 1 Fredrickson; 2 Smith; 3 Joseph Carter 18m.
Heat 1: 1 Steve Muir 16m; 2 Steve Cowling 2nz; 3 Brent McClymont 3nz. Heat 2: 1 Daniel Corrin 274m; 2 Michelle Wymer 75m; 3 Neil Head 10m. Feature: 1 Corrin; 2 Wymer; 3 Cowling.
Gold Cup, Heat 1: 1 Dean Brindle 2nz; 2 Skinny Colson 66p; 3 Daniel Thomas 55h. Heat 2: 1 Rodney Wood 51m; 2 Colin Entwisle 4m; 3 Kerri-anne James 23m. Feature: 1 Wood; 2 Brindle; 3 Michael Pickens 54a.