Local speedway stars face an uphill battle tomorrow night as they attempt to stop two major local titles heading out of town.
The Streetstocks and Modifieds contest their annual Bay Of Plenty Championships over a three-heat series, with both classes drawing competitive fields at TWS Paradise Valley Raceway.
With defending champion Travis Gooch of Gisborne unable to travel, a new champion is assured for the Franklyn Scrap Metals Bay Of Plenty Streetstock Champs.
Recent racing action has seen plenty of hitting and blocking along club lines, meaning the five Rotorua drivers in the 16-car field will need to work well together.
Regular top contender Steve De Malmanche will be the local favourite, but will face stiff competition from the likes of Daniel Curran (Kihikihi) and former NZ champion Simon Bland, who will travel up from Christchurch.
The Andrew Harvey Spray Painters Bay Of Plenty Modified Champs will see a smaller field, but has attracted a classy lineup among the eight confirmed starters. Multiple New Zealand Champion Jamie Fox, from Auckland, will be the pre-meet favourite, and is a regular event winner on the Rotorua circuit.
He will be joined by other Aucklanders and the Ward brothers, from Stratford, while youngster Paul James Ferguson will be the sole local in the group. The 17-year-old has only just moved into the class after graduating from the Youth Ministock field, and will be experiencing his first full race conditions at home, so will be using the night as a valuable learning experience.
With the Rotorua track hosting the North Island Champs later in the season, it is expected all of these drivers will also use this meeting as a setup session.
While the two BOP titles will headline the night, Stockcars and Superstocks will also be in action, beginning their House Of Travel Series, which has become a regular feature over recent years at Rotorua.
Scott Hewson and Dale Stewart are the defending series winners in Superstocks and Stockcars respectively, and both drivers have had winning starts to the year, so will be wanting to continue as they chase the travel prize on offer.
The series will see each class race over nine races (three races over three nights) with 10 points for a win down to one point for 10th. Rollover points are also on offer in both classes, including bonuses for rolling the points leader. Expect plenty of action in both classes, with nearly 40 Stockcars expected, and Superstocks to number in the mid-20s. Saloons and Youth Ministocks will round out the programme, which begins at 7pm.