Don't panic Hawke's Bay Hawkeyes superstock team fans ... Quinn Ryan is fully focused on the job.
That was the message from Hawkeyes manager Mike McLachlan and Ryan himself after McLachlan announced his team for the February 7 and 8 Palmerston North Teams Champs, the most prestigious event on the Speedway New Zealand calendar. There were fears Ryan may be distracted because of his commitments to the inaugural series of The Bachelorette NZ which began screening this week.
"All the filming for the series was done in November and December last year. It's been over for a while now and I'm focused on my racing," Ryan said as he completed work on his car in the countdown to the Hawkeyes clash with the Great Britain Lions at Meeanee tonight.
A veteran of seven years in the superstock class, Ryan, 25, finished third in the Palmerston North-hosted 76-car New Zealand Grand Prix in December which was his first meeting of the season. At last month's New Zealand Championship in Whanganui Ryan qualified for the main event on the second night and won the first final heat but was dealt to in the final heat.
"Those sort of lessons make me a better driver," Ryan said.
Although he has been a Hawkeyes squad member for three seasons Ryan made his track debut at the Palmerston North Teams Champs last year and helped the Hawkeyes finish second to the Canterbury Glen Eagles.
"I'm still learning heaps about teams racing and I'm just happy to be in the same team as the rest of the Hawkeyes who are all experienced teams racers," Ryan said referring to current 1NZ Randal Tarrant, former 1NZ Jason Long, Thomas Stanaway, Regan O'Brien and sixth driver McLachlan.
"I know there were some hard decisions for Mike to make. In the end it came down to car reliability and how we've all been going," Ryan explained.
"In my case I helped Jason and Quintin [Butcher] get on the podium in the World 248s at Palmerston North last month."
Ryan, who runs his own Q & R Welding and Fabrication business, agreed the Hawkeyes had the ammunition to improve on last year's second placing in Palmy.
"We are well prepared and will give it a good shot."
Ryan, Long, Tarrant and O'Brien will race against the Lions tonight in what will be the final rehearsal for both teams before Palmy.
"It's nice to have a warm-up race this close to Palmy," Ryan said.
Later this month Ryan will attempt to retain his Hawke's Bay championship title at Meeanee and next month he has the North Island championship in Auckland and the under-25s meeting at Meeanee.
"It's my last year for the under-25s meet so I want to give it a good shot," Ryan added.
McLachlan was forced to make a late change for Palmy this week with Butcher ruled out under Speedway New Zealand's medical rules. He was replaced by O'Brien and McLachlan replaced O'Brien as the sixth driver.
McLachlan is looking forward to tonight's shakedown against a Lions outfit which will miss the services of Frankie Wainman Jnr who is serving a suspension from the World 240s in Rotorua last weekend. The four Lions drivers will be selected from their team of Bobby Griffin, Frankie Wainman Jnr Jnr, Joe Booth, Karl Hawkins and Micky Brennan.
"From what I hear the Lions have a couple of new drivers like they had when they came here last year and want to treat it as a bit of a friendly. But you never treat any race like a friendly and we want to put on a good show before Palmy," McLachlan said.
He pointed out Ryan's television exposure has generated plenty of banter within the camp.
"We've all been giving him a bit of of stick. But he still has a level head and is totally focused on our job," McLachlan added.
The Meeanee Maulers stockcar team will take on the Rotorua Rascals in two races tonight. The first race will be for the Rees Shield. The Maulers team of Brett Loveridge, Daniel Melling, Cameron Swift, Andre Stenson and Brandon Symes will aim for polished rehearsals as they prepare for their national teams champs in Stratford later this month.
The talented Sheldon Arapere will make his first appearance of the season for the Rascals tonight. Dion Henderson will make his debut and other members of the side are Aaron Powell, Shannon and Keegan Orr.
Both the Maulers and Hawkeyes teams will stage meet and greet sessions for fans today. They have been timed so fans can attend both, merchandise for both teams can be purchased and fans will also have the opportunity to get autographs and have photos taken with drivers.
The Maulers session will be from 11am to 2pm at Guns and Tackle Hunting Fishing and Charters shop in Prebensen Dr, Napier. The Hawkeyes team will be at the Filter Room Ale and Cider House in Meeanee from 2.30pm to 4pm.
Other classes racing tonight are TQs, streetstocks and ministocks.