Marty Cooke drives to a first title after holiday

By Shane Hurndell

Hawke's Bay stockcar driver Marty Cooke admits it's tough work being a horticulturist.

Six- and seven-day weeks and long hours aren't uncommon. However around this time of the year things are a little quieter.

"I've just had a couple of days holiday in Taupo and I was refreshed when I got to the track tonight. That definitely contributed to my success," Cooke said after winning the East Coast championship for the first time after 12 attempts at ZM Meeanee Speedway on Saturday night.

Cooke, 45, needed to be refreshed in what was a tight 26-car championship. After collecting first and second placings in his first two heats Cooke required a top six finish in his final heat to capture the title.

"I started from grid 26 but managed to get up to sixth and sit there until the finish," the long-serving Meeanee Mauler who drives an AU Falcon-powered car explained.

The title was an appropriate reward for one of the Bay's more consistent drivers in the class whose previous best finish in a Hawke's Bay or East Coast championship was a third. He was surprised there was little talk of teams-type tactics and the championship was very much up to the individual.

This suited Cooke who only stirs if he has to.

"I don't upset drivers unless they upset me," Cooke said.

He finished one point ahead of Hawke's Bay veteran Paul Demanser and two ahead of former title winner and fellow Mauler Aaron Iremonger.

Cooke hopes his luck continues in the Kuru Classic this Saturday night and in the Hawke's Bay championship on May 12.

After his success at the weekend he is likely to be targeted at these meetings.

Hawke's Bay ministock driver Max Bayley celebrated his first drive in a new car on his home track by taking out the East Coast championship for his class.

"I got too tall for the old car. Rather than rebuild it we got a new one and it handled really well," Bayley said.

On the way to winning his first 10-lap race he had eight laps under 20 seconds and two on the 20-second mark. He finished second to clubmate Jarrod Lindsay in his second heat and pipped Lindsay by three points for the title.

Their Bay clubmate Trent Palamountain was 10 points behind Bayley in third place. Two other Bay ministock drivers, Sam Warner and Caleb Churchward, were second and third, respectively, in the Meeanee Cup for non-qualifiers behind Palmerston North's David Marshall.

Hawke's Bay's David Hill was able to continue racing in his second Meeanee Cup heat despite flipping three times with six laps remaining.

Hawke's Bay's two-time national TQ champion Craig Todd added another East Coast title to his CV with two firsts and a second placing. Gisborne's Dylan MacGregor was four points behind in second place and Todd's cousin and 2NZ Duane Todd a further two points behind in third place.

Cromwell's Adam Gent was rewarded for his long trip from Central Otago with the East Coast saloon title. Kihi Kihi's Roscoe Creswell was third and Hawke's Bay's Ian Mudgway won a spectacular three-car runoff for third which also involved Bay clubmate Steven Martin and Mount Maunganui's Paul Managh.

Hawke's Bay's Troy Devery rode a sidecar for the first time in three years but this didn't stop him and winger Pete Steigenberger from winning the Noel Kippax Memorial Trophy. Another Bay crew of Kim Johnston and Andrew McNamara took home the Tony Baley Memorial Trophy.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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