Midget Car veteran Brad Mosen won his third New Zealand Midget Car Grand Prix at Kihikihi Speedway making it three wins in a row this season.
The 24-car field were faced with the curious mix of a track that was hard, dry, thirsty and taking rubber during the warm up; at an event that had been rained out the previous day due to sodden conditions. The earlier Sunday start time in the sweltering Waikato heat did not help the tracks condition as heat racing got underway.
In the opening heat race Jayden Worthington was able to make his way to the front from his forth starting position and win comfortably over fellow Western Springs Speedway drivers James Cossey and Peter Hunnibell.
Five-time and defending Grand Prix winner Michael Pickens found himself the filling in a crash sandwich when the car ahead of him spun leaving him know where to go.
The same fate befell the lone Kihikihi local car of Michael Brunt who was behind Pickens and followed him in. The 3NZ King Chassis of Pickens sustained structural damage and was unable to compete in the rest of the event much like the Brunt car.
Brad Mosen used the outside line to great effect as others were forced to slow on the bottom line. He wasted no time getting to the front in Heat 2 from his sixth starting position. Initial race leader Tuakau’s Ricky McGough held Mosen out for several laps but eventually succumb to the on form veteran’s pressure.
Wanganui driver Brett Huijs and five-time Midget Car National Champion Michael Kendall locked horns and wheels as their cars became entangled and unable to separate without the assistance of officials. Kendall was able to receive a restart and eventually finished fifth.
Mosen won comfortably by a couple of seconds over McGough who was followed home by Joe Malone, punching above his weight yet again an open grade competition with his smaller motor.
Heat 3 was all BSL racing with the three of the four team drivers taking out the top spots. Hayden Guptill won from pole position over Hayden Williams who started behind him. Young Travis Buckley coming home third in a good result.
Stratford’s Dwayne Hickman took Heat 4 over Aucklander’s Brock Maskovich and Breyton Davison. The incident free race the first to go all 10 laps, green to chequered on the quarter mile clay oval.
The fifth and final prelim. had several great battles. For the lead it was Kendall and American Champion and current to 2NZ Zach Daum with Kendall the Victor. Former BSL driver Mosen battled current BSL driver Williams for thrd with Mosen coming out on top. Malone and McGough also racing closely for minor placing’s.
With the heats completed the grids set for the 30-lap final Mosen and Kendall occupied the front row with Williams and Maskovich in row two followed by Guptill and Davison.
Mosen gained the initial advantage having started from the preferred inside line as Kendall tucked in behind. Throughout the race Kendall’s initial pace dwindled as did his tyre tread with both tyre and driver finished deflated on the infield.
Several minor incidents bought out the yellow flags at third way distance as the slick feather-throttle conditions found most contestants running around the pole line waiting on a mistake or making their own.
It was at this point Auckland’s Breyton Davison became airborne after contact with another cars wheel. Davidson’s car came to rest between the heavy wire cables of the inner stock car fence and the outer safety fence suspended upside down.
The safety Crew worked fast to extract the uninjured Davison from the car who emerged to the applause of the relieved crowd. The entangled cars extraction took 26 minutes during red flag conditions where teams were allowed on to the track to tend to their drivers and cars.
Upon resumption Mosen assumed point with Kendall a fading second place forced to concede position to Williams, Maskovich and Guptill in short order before pulling off the track. Kendall is the owner of six previous Grand Prix podium finishes but has never won the 43-year-old race.
Shayne Alach, with only one fourth place heat race finish to his name, started the feature deep from grid 20 and showed his slick track experience passing cars and taking advantage of the doublewide restarts to work his way through the field. Alach now chasing Guptill found himself fourth by lap 27 when Maskovich and Daum came together vying for third and ending both their races which handed Guptill the final podium spot behind teammate Williams.
The Maskovich-Daum caution was one lap too early for Williams as he had completed the pass on Mosen for the lead but this gain was rescinded as all cars were re-ordered to previous completed lap positions. This returned Mosen to the front for the single file restart where he was unchallenged for the final three laps.
“We have had good car speed all season which has allowed us to start up front and put us in a position to control the race but this was about saving the tyre and driving it straight” Mosen said of his win.
“The red flag period defiantly helped. The team came out and looked at everyone’s tyres compared to mine and I knew I had to drive slow to make sure I finished.
“When Williams got past me I thought he was gone but the timing of that last caution was lucky.”
Mosen will join Pickens and Maskovich in the New Zealand Midget Car Test Team to race for tri-nations glory over Australia and the Americans at Western Springs Speedway on Boxing Day for round one of the United Truck Parts International Midget Car Series.