Motorsport: Rich Pickens in the midgets

Auckland's Michael Pickens returns to the midget field at Western Springs on Saturday night, showing his class to win a third New Zealand championship
Auckland's Michael Pickens returns to the midget field at Western Springs on Saturday night, showing his class to win a third New Zealand championship

Auckland's Michael Pickens returns to the midget field at Western Springs on Saturday night, showing his class to win a third New Zealand championship.

Auckland's Michael Pickens outclassed the midget field at WXC Speedway Western Springs on Saturday night to win his third New Zealand Championship on the trot, and sixth in total.

The victory was made even more incredible by the fact Pickens now plies his trade in the sprintcar division, returning to the midgets to continue his domination of the class immediately.

"People have been asking if driving a sprintcar was going to affect my midget driving? Well, I guess not," he said.

"Obviously the sprintcar is quicker but when I jump back in this [midget] it's just like second nature. If anything, the sprintcar work I've been doing could even help me in a midget," said Pickens.

While other drivers struggled to get a grip on the race, Pickens was hard on the gas right around the outside of the racetrack, lapping all but one car in a race that had no cautions.

"The track was a bit gnarly but obviously you could pass on it because we lapped [the field] up to second place so that's pretty cool," said the 30-year-old.

"I had no idea I was that far ahead at the time but with the level of local competition here you've just got to keep the hammer down and drive as hard as what you think is safe," said the champion.

As well as 12 more months of bragging rights, Pickens picked up $8000 in prize money with this victory; the largest purse in the event's history.

Scott Buckley claimed second place following a late puncture to Chris McCutcheon, with hard-charging Hayden Williams coming from 18th on the grid to finish third.

The international midgets arrive in the coming weeks with the USA, Australia and New Zealand set to do battle in test racing on Boxing Day.

- NZ Herald

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