Speedway: Drivers impress in team racing

By Shane Hurndell

It couldn't have been more appropriate ... veteran Murray Long had his best performance as the Hawke's Bay Hawkeyes created history in more ways than one at the weekend's Superstock Teams Champs in Palmerston North.

The oldest member of the Hawkeyes, Long, 50, had three race wins as the Hawkeyes went unbeaten for the first time and beat Great Britain for the first time on their way to a fifth placing at the most illustrious event for the class on the Speedway New Zealand calendar.

"It was my best-ever champs but I was thrilled for the whole team ... there are so many good signs there for the future," Long, who extended his Hawkeyes record to 18 appearances at the champs, said.

The fact two of the James Buckrell-managed Hawkeyes, Adam Groome and Quintin Butcher, were making their debuts at the champs added to the significance of the unbeaten feat.

Long, who intends to do another two teams champs before retiring, had the first of his wins as the Hawkeyes beat the Wellington Wildcats 125-60 on Friday night.

Groome impressed as a blocker during this victory but still managed to be the next best of the Hawkeyes finishers with a third.

A highlight for the Wildcats in this race was Dale Robertson shoving Hawkeye Jayson Palamountain up the wall for three quarters of a lap.

Groome celebrated his debut night at the champs by securing the chequered flag as the Hawkeyes beat the Nelson Tigers 110-85 in their second outing on Friday night. Hawke's Bay's "Mr Speedway" Mike McLachlan produced some expert blocking that allowed Groome to take the win.

On Saturday night Long was first across the line in both of the Hawkeyes' victories, the first against Waikato and the second against Great Britain.

The Palmerston North-contracted Hawke's Bay-based Shane Penn captured a seventh teams title when his Palmerston North Panthers beat the Manawatu Mustangs in the final.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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