1NZ Shane Dewar goes wheel to wheel with Shane Gribbon (8V) in the Flying Kilt.
Photo / S. B O'Hagan Photography
Local hopeful Dylan Smith (53V) will be chasing chequered flags tonight.
Photo / S. B O'Hagan Photograph
The first of three Speedway New Zealand championships will be decided at Fast Lane Spares Oceanview Family Speedway tonight.
More than 20 of the country's top Minisprints will take to the track to compete for the Dewtec New Zealand Minisprint Championships.
Based on a Midget chassis, the Minisprints are powered by a naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine of up to 1340cc, and must weigh between 420kg and 570kg, without the driver. Wings on the roll cage and front of the car provide downforce, and the top cars lap Oceanview almost two seconds per lap faster than Superstocks.
Shane Dewar won the New Zealand title at Stratford last season, ahead of Huntly driver Ben Vaughan and Stratford's Bayley Betts. Local driver Dylan Smith narrowly missed the podium, closing fast on Betts, but unable to get by.
Dewar served a long apprenticeship in the Minisprint class, but showed his potential with a third placing in 2017/18, improving to second in 2018/19, behind three-time winner Christian Hermansen.
With Hermansen taking a break from racing last season, few were surprised with Dewar's breakthrough title.
Dewtec Palmerston North branch manager, Dewar grew up around speedway. His father Paul was the New Zealand Modified champion in the 1990/91 season.
However, there are plenty of drivers waiting to take the title from Dewar.
Vaughan, Betts and Smith have all shown glimpses of form this season, and Betts won the prestigious Manawatū Minisprint title last week.
Evergreen Cameron Hurley has been in excellent form this season, and with some luck in the running could challenge the front-runners. Young Stratford driver Campbell Stewart has shown plenty of pace at Oceanview this season, Lydia Dickinson is always a tough competitor, and local drivers Shane Gribbon and rookie Brad McDonald have improved with every outing.
Racers will be divided into three groups for round-robin qualifying, to determine the first 16 grid positions for the 25-lap Championship race.
Those outside the top 16 will have a second chance to qualify via the semi-main race.
The 25-lap final will be a race of attrition, and drivers will have to manage tyre wear. Going too hard early in the race could leave drivers with little grip in the closing laps.
Youth Ministocks from all over the North Island will also be on hand for the Oceanview 5000.
Unlike normal racing, where the 12 to 16-year olds race against one another, the Oceanview 5000 breaks racers into two groups: 15 and 16-year olds, and 14 and under.
In addition to the two age championships, each club represented will select two drivers to compete in the Interclub Challenge, which is always keenly contested.
Stockcars complete the programme, and it's a final chance for the 17 Wanganui cars entered in the New Zealand Stockcar Championship at Meeanee Speedway next weekend to iron the bugs out of their cars.
The Minisprints will have two practice sessions tomorrow afternoon, and the Youth Ministocks will have qualifying races.
The meeting proper starts at 6pm, with the public gates opening at 4.30pm.