Motorsport: Kiwi drivers aim to be ahead on final 50-lapper

By Eric Thompson

The International Midget World Series, where New Zealand and the United States battle it out around a dirt oval, culminates tonight at Western Springs Speedway.

The final round 50-lapper is the highlight of the speedway calendar, and defending champion, New Zealander Michael Pickens, will be looking to lead the Americans home on the night. New Zealand leads the series going into the fourth and final round.

This season, Pickens has lost no time in reminding fans of his talent. He won the first two features and the fourth (Brad Mosen winning the third), at Western Springs - the first in a display of relaxed mastery that saw him win by more than half a lap, and the second in a nail-biting, last-second dive for the chequered flag that showcased his unique ability to slice and dice his way through the competition.

The crowd will be suitably entertained, as in a 50-lap race the cars stay on the track longer increasing the odds of something going wrong.

The Kiwis will not be having it all their own way as US driver Dave Darland is determined to win his first 50-lapper, having won 30-lap races twice before.

Fellow American Brad Loyet won the POWRi Midget Series in the US last year and has high hopes for his New Zealand visit.

"We're going to go for the podium," he said. "It's a racy track, you've got to have the car set up right. Hopefully if we're at the back we'll work our way to the front, and if we're at the front, we'll stay there."

Scott Hatton, also from the US, won the 50-lapper on his first visit here and has come second the past two years so he, too, will be a threat to the Kiwis.

The youngest Kiwi driver in the midget field, Mosen is a very exciting driver to watch and is often seen battling with Pickens. Another Kiwi to follow tonight is Shayne Alach, backed by motor sport veteran Bob Haldane, and he's a past 50-lap winner.

Bryce Townsend, part of the New Zealand team, is another former 50-lap winner. Action gets under way from 6.45pm.

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