Hawke's Bay Hawkeyes superstock driver Quinn Ryan had friends from his The Bachelorette NZ television show among his supporters at the weekend's National Teams Champs in Auckland.
And Ryan certainly put on a show for them. A month after securing the win in the final of the more prestigious international Palmerston North Teams Champs final against the Gisborne Giants, Ryan, had to evade three block cars and pass the experienced Wayne Hemi to give the Hawkeyes victory by 20 metres in Saturday night's final against the Palmerston North Panthers.
It was the first time the Hawkeyes had won this title in the 32-year history of the event and to complete the double in the same summer they won the Palmy event for the third time in five years and without three of the drivers used in Palmy is a tremendous feat. Current national champion Randal Tarrant and Thomas Stanaway were both unavailable for Auckland because of the short turn around before travelling to Christchurch for next weekend's Battle of the Stocks event and veteran Regan O'Brien was unavailable because of work commitments.
"It was a massive effort from the whole team. I'm rapt," manager-driver Mike McLachlan said.
"I was a little reluctant to put Clayton [Hagen] out in this event because it's so much more brutal with more mongrel involved than in other events but Clayton stepped up big time," McLachlan said.
Ryan, Hagen and McLachlan were joined by former 1NZ Jason Long and Auckland-based Craig Chatfield. Waikato's Justin Hutchby was the sixth driver.
On Friday night the Hawkeyes opened their campaign with a convincing win against Auckland who had no finishers. In their second outing the Hawkeyes were beaten 140-55 by the Rotorua Rebels with Gary Hunter securing the chequered flag for the Rebels.
"We over thought everything against the Rebels and struggled. It was the wake-up call we needed," McLachlan said.
However, the Hawkeyes scored enough points to qualify for the semifinals on Saturday night and came up against the Rebels again. Chatfield secured the win but was excluded from the race because of a pole line infringement. However, Ryan was second and the confirmed winner which put the Hawkeyes into the final.
"The Panthers were on form all weekend. But me and Jason took it to them and Quinn and Clayton kept running. Wayne [Hemi] had the lead but Quinn never gave up," McLachlan explained.
He heaped kudos on the Hawkeyes numerous sponsors and support crews for their input into the history-making double. The Hawkeyes join Tarrant and solobike rider Bradley Wilson-Dean as the province's national speedway champions this season.