Thirty-one years after his father Tony finished fifth in the New Zealand Streetstock Championship Hawke's Bay driver Ben Darroch qualified for tonight's second stage in the nationals at Meeanee.
Darroch, 21, was one of six Hawke's Bay-contracted drivers to qualify last night in the Alexander Electric-sponsored championship which attracted 46 starters from throughout the country. Like his father at the Meeanee-hosted nationals in 1988 Darroch had a relaxed approach to the nationals.
"I'm just going out to have fun. Anything after that is a bonus," he said before the meeting.
The smile which enveloped his face after he learnt he had qualified suggested he had definitely had fun.
"I'll be out there to help the Hawke's Bay cars out on Night Two. Obviously I will have a crack at the podium if I've got a chance and we'll see how things are after the first and second races. But the old Falcon is pretty slow and I think I will just be getting in the way," Darroch said.
"The last Hawke's Bay-contracted driver to win the title was Ivan Smith down in Wellington in 1995. So it would be good to have another Bay winner after all this time."
Another of the Bay's second generation racers in the class, Tim Towler, was also among the six host-track drivers to qualify. His father, Bill Towler, was second when Meeanee last hosted the championship in 2005.
Four-time Hawke's Bay champion Brent Redington, who finished third at last year's Rotorua-hosted nationals, was the top qualifier in his group. The other Bay qualifiers were current Hawke's Bay champion Darren Melling, Ben Yeoman and Dave "The Sheriff" Brand.
Auckland-contracted former Hawke's Bay club member Phil McNamara and Gisborne-contracted former host-track driver David Hampton, who won the national title in Gisborne in 2012 also qualified. Defending champion Chris Shingleton of Rotorua and last year's runner-up Brenden Gooch of Gisborne, who won the title in 2018, also qualified.
Other former winners to qualify were Rotorua's Stephen DeMalmanche and Dave McSherry of Christchurch.
The top two placegetters in tonight's repechage will also qualify. David Adams, who will start off grid one, and Glen Shepherd, who will start off grid five, are the Bay's best hopes in the repechage.
The qualifiers from last night are:
Green Group: Cody Gooch (Gisborne) 55 points 1; Chris Shingletson (Rotorua) 50 2; Dave McSherry (Christchurch) 49 3; Alan King (Rotorua) and Tristan o'Donnell (Wellington) 48 4 equal; Ben Yeoman (Hawke's Bay) 45 6; Neville Soper (Nelson) 44 7; Ben Darroch (Hawke's Bay) 37 8.
White Group: Matt Peterson (Christchurch) and Brenden Gooch (Gisborne) 54 points 1 equal; Tim Towler (Hawke's Bay) and Darren Melling (Hawke's Bay) 52 3 equal; Stephen DeMalmanche (Rotorua) 46 5; Phil McNamara (Auckland) 43 6; Benji Smaill (Dunedin) 42 7; Daniel Curran (Kihikihi) 39 8.
Black Group: Brent Redington (Hawke's Bay) 52 points 1; Shane Bracken (Rotorua) 51 2; Mike King (Rotorua) 50 3; Sean Gooch (Gisborne) and Tom McSherry (Christchurch) 49 4 equal; David Hampton (Gisborne) 48 6; Dave Brand (Hawke's Bay) 46 7; Paul Leslie (Christchurch).
Morrison wins TQs
Aucklander Cole Morrison won the 26-car New Zealand TQ Grand Prix event on Friday night.
The 21-year-old, who has been in the class for only three seasons and was competing in his first Grand Prix, won the 20-lap final from grid two.
"I'm super-stoked to get the win. I've never been able to get away from the Bakers like that before," Morrison said referring to second placegetter Ryan Baker of Auckland who started the final from pole.
"Dad [former streetstock racer Phil Morrison] did a good job with the set up. This was a good way to bounce back after a terrible national championship last weekend in which I finished ninth," added Morrison who won the East Coast championship at Meeanee last year.
Another Auckland starter, 2NZ Ryan Barry, was third in the Efficient Moving and Storage-sponsored event. The best of the non-Auckland-contracted starters was Gisborne's Ryan MacGregor who was sixth.
Hawke's Bay's best hope for the title, two-time national champion Duane Todd, had mechanical issues throughout the meeting.
In addition to Night Two of the streetstock nationals, the TQ Gold Cup and the Hawke's Bay sidecar championship will be the other feature events tonight.