MAKE WHAT you will of pack mentality but it has its uses in the sporting jungle.
Nothing perhaps demonstrates that primal behaviour better than speedway, not even cycling.
One minute a group of feral types will gather at a venue to fulfil the individual goal of winning but when things become tricky they'll look for relative outsiders to push their cause.
No doubt, ultimately, the self-serving individuals tend to turn on each other in the blink of an eye in the octane-fuelled lanes of contention.
Just ask Hawke's Bay drivers Thomas Stanaway and Quinn Ryan who returned from the Superstock World 240 two weekends ago in Rotorua after resorting to a sense of herd instincts and morality.
"I managed to sneak through with the help of the Rotorua guys," says Stanaway after he won the second-tier Superstocks in Paradise title ahead of Ryan.
The 24-year-old apprentice engineer from Bay View snuck ahead of Ryan, 20, a self-employed sheet metal worker from Hastings, after the pair failed to make the cut in the premier top 26 Superstock World 240.
Steve Jude was the only Bay driver to make the cull for the 15-lap World 240, finishing 11th.
"We had a talk and they [Rotorua drivers] didn't want the Palmy North guys to win so it's a big thanks to the Rotorua guys, really," says Stanaway of the 26-car race that had tribes from the Bay, Rotorua, Auckland, Stratford, Wellington and Mt Maunganui (Bay Park).
"I was doing my own thing but the Palmy guys were teaming up," he says, agreeing the Bay drivers will probably resort to a similar pack mentality if they can muster the numbers at any one meeting.
Adam Groome, of Hastings, was at the meeting but didn't turn out in the 15-lap Paradise race due to migraine after failing to make the cut.
Stanaway is the first to admit that once individuals in a pack achieve the goal of shutting out other predators a modicum of selfishness creeps into their circle.
"We couldn't really slow down to help each other because we're both there for the same thing."
The irony was in the premeditated act of shutting out the marauding Palmy boys, Ryan got stung as well.
Ryan started 17th on the grid to finish third in his first heat and followed it up with a second placing and a fifth grid spot in the second heat.
Ryan was back 17th on the grid for the final heat but had to be content with a 13th placing.
"A Palmerston North car [Gavin Taniwha] held me up for a few laps so Thomas popped through to beat me."
Wayne Hemi, of Palmy North, was third.
In his fourth season, Ryan not only condones the orchestrated mob rule but also derives immense pleasure in prevailing as a predator or succumbing as a prey.
"I love the contact and hits. You do what you can on a lot of V8 horsepower so it's a good buzz and adrenalin rush," he says.
Stanaway was third on the grid in his first heat to finish second. From grid 16 he secured fourth position in the next heat and nailed fifth position from grid 20 in the final heat to claim the best perch on the podium.
The pair were disheartened they couldn't compete in the top-tier race but are savouring a Bay first/second regardless.
"It is disappointing to miss out but you just concentrate on the next race," Stanaway says.
He got into the sport after his father, Brain, "handed the reins over to me".
"I'm virtually born into superstocks. I love the competition and hard racing."
While coming third in the 2013 New Zealand Championship in Nelson is Stanaway's biggest claim to fame, he is delighted to have secured an automatic entry into next year's World 240 in Rotorua.
He is indebted to his crew of seven for its diligence.
He thanks his sponsors - Foot Engineering, Wiseys Bakery, Sign It Up, Sportsweb Photography and Midwest Motors.