Todd aiming for one better than last year

By SHANE HURNDELL


Hawke's Bay TQ driver Duane Todd boasts the nickname "Barney."

"I got it from my grandfather when I was really young. He reckoned my cousin and I used to knock each other around like the characters in the television programme The Flintstones," Todd recalled.

However, father of three Todd, 34, is no "Barney Rubble" when it comes to driving his TQ. The country's 2NZ last year is keen to finish tomorrow night's 30-car Alexander Electric New Zealand championships at ZM Meeanee Speedway with the 1NZ number on his car.

"It would mean a lot from the family perspective. Dad has won the title twice and Craig won it last year ... so it would be good to get my name on the list and at the home track," Todd said referring to his father, Steve, and cousin Craig.

Todd grinned when he was informed Craig had thrown the favourite tag his way.

"Craig has done that to take the pressure off him," Todd said with a laugh.

Todd, who has raced TQs since 2004, is always composed and thrives under pressure.

Todd is a Golf Fanatics professional at the Maraenui club where his best round is a 67, and that helps.

He agreed the one-night format instead of the two-night one of the championships before it was postponed because of wet weather should work to his advantage.

Todd's fitness levels are superior to a lot of the other drivers in the field including his cousin.

The 30 drivers have been divided into two groups of 15. Each group will have three qualifying races and the top 12 from each will qualify for three championship races and accumulated points will determine the title winner.

"Obviously it was frustrating the event was postponed a fortnight ago. But we can't control the weather," Todd said.

"It's great 12 of the 13 cars from the South Island are coming back. You don't want to have a 20-car championship as it won't feel like anything major if you win it ... we've got 30 cars and they are all quality drivers," he said.

Todd, his cousin Craig and James Tollison are Hawke's Bay's best hopes for the title.

"Us three and 3NZ Dylan MacGregor of Gisborne race each other regularly and are four of the top six or eight drivers in the country. But everyone will be tough this weekend ... Jared Taylor and Shaun Cooke are two of the better Auckland drivers," former kart racer Todd said.

With a third in the New Zealand Grand Prix, a third in the North Island championships and two thirds and a second in Gisborne last weekend it's easy to see why Todd has been given the favourite tag by his Efficient teammate and defending champion. The fact he can tap into the knowledge of his dad who raced for 41 years is also a big plus.

"Dad and I do all our set ups. But he lets me do my own thing ... the gaps he sees from the grandstand are different to how they are on the track but in saying that, we work well together," Todd said.

Should Todd secure the top spot on the podium tomorrow night his father's reaction will be almost worth the price of admission. So will that of his 5-year-old son, Leighton, who has the job of collecting the old man's trophies.

Other Hawke's Bay-based drivers starting in the championship are Paul Ludeman, Phillip Plummer, Ryan MacGregor, Colin Matthews and David Wilson.

Tomorrow night's meeting will also include the Hawke's Bay superstock and sidecar championships, ministocks and kiwilites.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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