Hawke's Bay Hawkeyes superstock driver Regan O'Brien wants another stint at New Zealand speedway's showpiece event.
O'Brien, 40, last raced at the Enzed Superstock Teams Championship in Palmerston North in 2017. With his display for the Hawkeyes as they beat the Bay Park Busters at Meeanee on Saturday night only a brave pundit would bet against his chances of returning to an event he first raced in 2014.
"That's the aim ... Palmy in February and then the Auckland Teams Champs after that," O'Brien said after the yesterday's meeting.
O'Brien secured the chequered flag thanks to some outstanding blocking work from the likes of Quinn Ryan and Thomas Stanaway.
"It was a good teams race. We tried something new and it worked. Quinn and Thomas have a reputation for their running but they did the blocking tonight which allowed me and Randal [Tarrant] to run," O'Brien explained.
Tarrant finished second to O'Brien and Ross Ashby was the best of the Busters in third place.
"That's my first teams race since 2017. It was definitely hard work," O'Brien said.
He didn't race last season as he was ill with pneumonia and influenza A. O'Brien is rapt with the way his brand new car, which he built along with father Chris and son Kairyn, is firing with an Ace Performance engine.
The third round of the five-round V8 Saloon Series was the other feature attraction on Saturday night.
It attracted 22 starters and Mount Maunganui's Jarred Fletcher won the 25 lap feature from grid three.
Hawke's Bay's Josh Smith did well to finish second from grid eight and Mount Mauganui's Trent Amerein, who started from grid five, was third.
There was plenty of action in the 18-strong superstock class. Rotorua's Lance Elsworth flipped in heat one which was won by Ryan, who again impressed with his blocking. Heat two which was won by the Bay's 1NZ and Magpies rugby prop Jason Long.
Hawke's Bay's Zach Lawrence impressed with his attacks on Rotorua's Glen Clarke in heat three which was also won by Long.
The host track trio of Ben Milne, Jack Lawson and Joshua Trott all had victory laps in the 18-strong stockcar class.
Whanganui's Brent Hackett and Anton McKay were the respective winners of heats one and two before Hawke's Bay's former North Island champion Denton Hodgkinson took out the feature.
Hawke's Bay drivers Ryan Dorward, Tylar Flynn, Bailey Smith and Liam Danielsen all enjoyed heat wins in the 27-strong ministock class. Smith, a son of saloon driver, captured the driver of the night award for the class.