Todd Family dominate racing titles

By Shane Hurndell

When it comes to keeping things in the family, Hawke's Bay speedway's Todds are up with the best.

Craig Todd retained his national TQ title and cousin Duane his 2NZ number at Saturday night's Alexander Electric New Zealand championships staged at ZM Meeanee Speedway.

Craig matched his uncle and Duane's father Steve's feat of two national titles.

"But back-to-back is even better than the uncle," Craig, 41, said referring to the fact Steve's titles were won four years apart during the 1983-84 and 1987-88 seasons.

"It was awesome to win it at home in front of family, sponsors and supporters," Craig, the first driver to claim the title back-to-back in 12 years, said at the end of the 30-car championship.

A work colleague of Steve's at Efficient Moving and Storage, Craig only had to finish among the top 12 in the 24-car final heat to retain his title as he took a 10-point buffer over his cousin into the race. He finished fifth.

"It does get harder when you have a lead like that. It plays on your mind a little bit and you still have to put the car in the right place," explained Craig who was having his 21st crack at the title.

In his second 15-lap championship heat Craig finished third off grid 18 despite getting hooked up with his cousin with nine laps remaining.

The first championship heat saw Craig take the chequered flag after securing the lead on the first lap. Duane Todd and Gisborne's 3NZ from last year's nationals in Nelson, Dylan MacGregor, both flipped in this race.

The fifth Hawke's Bay driver to win the title in the 59-year history of the championship, Craig was equally as dominant in three qualifying heats. The first saw him finish second off grid 10, he won the second off grid three and the third from grid 11.

Maraenui Golf Club professional Duane Todd had to complete two run-offs with Aucklander Jared Taylor before his 2NZ number was safe for a second season. This meant he had three 12 lap races, three 15-lap races and two four-lap races over five hours.

A second run-off was required after Taylor successfully protested Duane had completed the final two laps of the first run-off with the orange lights on. Taylor had spun himself out of contention in this race with two laps remaining while attempting to catch Duane who was just as dominant in the second run-off.

Another Hawke's Bay favourite for the title, James Tollison, blew his engine when he was leading his third qualifying heat with two laps remaining. Tollison won his first qualifying heat and rolled with eight laps remaining in his second.

A 17-car Hawke's Bay superstock championship and 10-crew Hawke's Bay sidecar championship were Saturday night's other feature events.

Hawke's Bay-based Palmerston North-contracted Shane Penn won the superstock championship with wins in all three heats.

"I don't know if that is the eighth or ninth time but I know it's one more Hawke's Bay title than Dad has won and that's the most important thing," Penn quipped, referring to his father and former national champion Bryce Penn.

Hawke's Bay's Tony Meechan had too much pace for Palmerston North's Craig Humphries in a run-off for second.

A fortnight after finishing second at the Auckland-hosted nationals Palmerston North's Andrew Buchanan and Philippa Burns won the winner-takes-all final of the Hawke's Bay sidecar championship.

Craig Todd joins Faram, super saloon driver Steve Flynn and streetstrock driver David "Duck" Hampton as Hawke's Bay-based drivers to win national speedway titles this summer.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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