Newly-crowned national champion Steve de Malmanche is expecting no favours when he contests the Total Stockcrates New Zealand Streetstock Grand Prix at McDonald's Kihikihi Speedway on Saturday.
"I'll be a marked man for sure now that I've got NZ1 on the side of my (1996) XR6 Falcon ... it's like a bullseye," de Malmanche said.
The former Kihikihi contracted driver, now racing out of Rotorua, is glad to finally get the "monkey off his back" after breaking through for his first national title.
"It's been a long time coming, 15 years in fact. I've been NZ2 four times and NZ3 five or six years ago at Kihikihi, so it's great to add NZ1 to my CV."
Mechanical problems seem-ingly robbed Dunedin's Matt Stewart of victory on home turf.
The South Islander was sitting in third spot in the last heat with only two laps to go, having won the first two races, when his differential broke. "It all comes down to that third and final race of any championship," de Malmanche said. "I feel for Matt, I've had a six-point lead and lost it in the past."
What made de Malmanche's victory even more special was his son, Trevor, placing third behind the runner-up Aaron Brown of Gisborne.
Trevor is on the comeback trail after having a couple of years off. Steve built a new car for him last year on his return to streetstocks.
The R W Richards Contracting New Zealand Streetstock champs in Dunedin on January 5 and 6 saw 78 of the top cars from around New Zealand battle it out.
Now it is the North Island's turn to host round two, the New Zealand Streetstock Grand Prix. Forty-two cars have entered, including three from the South Island.
The host Kihikihi club will be represented by seven drivers, 12K Daniel Curran, 17K Lee Patrick, 21K Russell Hayes, 32K Dave Curran, 41K Aaron Phillips, 61K Blair Castleton and 88k Ben Patrick. It will be an interesting match for the travelling South Island drivers, Stewart in car 828D, and 31C Simon Bland and 9C James Robinson, both out of Christchurch.
Stewart will still be smarting from his hard-luck story at the nationals back in Dunedin, while Robinson will be keen to retain the NZ Grand Prix title he won in Napier last year from then runner-up de Malmanche.
The field for the Grand Prix has been split into two qualifying groups. The top 12 cars from both Bruce's Fitness Centre Group and Farm Effluent Services Group will then advance to the final three heats.
The first two drivers home in an additional repechage for non-qualifiers will make up the final field of 26 qualifiers.
A capacity field of 44 cars will also contest the annual youth Ministock Stampede.
There will also be supporting races for stockcars, saloons and six-shooters.
Gates open at 1pm and racing starts at 3pm.