Mike McLachlan enhanced his reputation as the best stockcar teams racer in Hawke's Bay but remember the name Hayden Barnett.
A two-time winner with the Hawke's Bay Hawkeyes Superstock team at the ENZED Teams Champs in Palmerston North, the glamour event on the Speedway New Zealand calendar, McLachlan, 37, was at his brutal best as his Orange Roughies team did the best of the two Bay outfits with a third placing in the nine-team Peter Barry Memorial stockcar teams event which ended at Meeanee on Saturday night. In the race for third against the Wanganui Vulcans McLachlan took out three Vulcans on one lap and then took out the Vulcans runner, Darryl Taylor, who was leading the race, with a reverse hit and this allowed Brandon Symes to secure the win for the Roughies.
"We did it for the fans," the humble McLachlan told the crowd afterwards.
It was a brilliant effort from the Roughies who had earlier lost to the defending champions, Rotorua Rascals, in their semifinal. Symes and veteran Tony Palmer were the only drivers to finish the race against the Vulcans as Michael Smith was taken out at the start and Kairyn O'Brien a lap before McLachlan almost single handedly hushed the Vulcans supporters.
The more experienced Roughies were always going to upstage the other Bay team, the Meeanee Maulers, at the two-night meeting which is staged in memory of former Central Hawke's Bay businessman and farmer Peter Barry who died in 2009 after a speedway incident. The Maulers failed to make the top six but one of the team Hayden Barnett, 26, provided the ideal form of consolation for this disappointment and proved he has the potential to become a future McLachlan with the entertainment he produced on Saturday night.
In his second heat Barnett rolled clubmate Regan Penn in spectacular fashion and in his final race of the weekend Barnett rolled Wanganui visitor Chet Swan.
The Rotorua Rascals became the first back-to-back winners in the six-season history of the event when they beat the Auckland Alley Cats in the final. With their loss the Alley Cats missed out on a fourth trophy for the season as they had earlier won the national title and the Huntly and Kihikihi teams events.
Callum Flavell, who was making his Peter Barry meeting debut for the Rascals, provided an anxious moment for his manager and former Bay of Plenty rugby lock Steve Axtens, when he came to a halt 1m from the finish line. Fortunately a teammate was able to nudge him across the line to secure the victory and one of the heaviest trophies in Hawke's Bay sport.
"Although we got the wins we needed we weren't on our game last night. But we stepped up tonight with some complete team efforts . . . and we will be back next year with the aim of a three-peat," Axtens said as he and his drivers were smothered in congratulatory hugs and kisses.
Three of his drivers, Steve Gray, Brent Stewart and Darcy Meurant were in last year's winning team. They were joined by Flavell, Michael Rumney and Richard Keijzer for the weekend.
Only four of the 12 starters finished the action-packed final and the Alley Cats, like the Rascals, reached the final with an unbeaten run.
Alley Cats manager Geoff Cook said he was disappointed his troops couldn't win the title for the first time but pointed out it wasn't through a lack of effort. He was hopeful the same team will be available to attempt to go one place better next year.
Rotorua's Dylan Towler won the 39-car David Jones Motors Gold Cup for Ministocks which was the other feature attraction during the two nights. With three wins and a second in his heats Towler was the hot favourite going into the 12-lap top 26 final which he won by four seconds despite starting from grid 11.
The winner of the prestigious Ministocks in Paradise event on his home track last month, Towler, also set a new track lap record for his class of 19.8431s on lap five. Kihikihi's Dion Henderson was second and Palmerston North's Nicole Hickmott third.
Lauren Swift was the best of the Hawke's Bay finishers with a sixth.