Less than three months after racing a Midget Car for the first time, young Tauranga Speedway talent Luke McClymont raced to his first major victory on Saturday night at Baypark Speedway.
The home track win in the North Island Championship was an impressive performance from the 21-year-old third-generation racer.
After the two qualifying heats McClymont was top qualifier by a single point from Auckland racer Brock Maskovich. He led the 25-lap final almost from start-to-finish, apart from a moment on lap 21 when a challenging Alec Insley (Auckland) got his wheels in front.
McClymont led home Insley by just 0.24s after the three-lap dash to the finish and but says his winning chances were formed early in the night.
“Going from tenth to win my first heat race was really important. You’ve got to have two good heats to set yourself up,” said McClymont.
After being pressured by Maskovich and Morgan McHugh, the final restart with three laps remaining saw Insley as McClymont’s main threat.
“I knew it was Alec right behind me and with three laps to go I just told myself to hit my marks and not make any mistakes.”
Graduating from the 6 Shooter regional class, McClymont already had Midget heat race wins and podium finishes heading into the North Island title. He’s enjoying the intensity of Midget Car racing and a lightweight car with twice the power of a 6 Shooter.
“It’s a lot different with the speed and the amount of adjustments you can make to the car,” he said. “And the racing is so intense, you have to be on your A-game every race.
“I’d like to thank Brett and Leigh Morris from Seamount who have given me the opportunity to drive for a great team. You dream about winning big races, but it feels pretty surreal to actually win this one.”
Baypark’s super-competitive Sprint Car racing produced its sixth different winner from seven feature races this season with Ryan O’Connor taking out the 25-lapper.
O’Connor led till lap 17 when Ayrton Hodson’s charge from grid six drove him into contention. The pair swapped places in a short duel that ended when Hodson was unable to avoid a lapped car that had come to a halt against the turn three wall.
Tokoroa’s Keaton Dahm was the next threat to O’Connor and had two restart chances, but O’Connor maintained control to win by 1.4secs with Rodney Wood taking third spot.
O’Connor says his wining pace comes from making steady improvements to his car in recent meetings.
“The team has been chipping away at a few changes to the get the car in a window that’s happy for me and these tracks,” O’Connor said.
The Baypark success in the New Zealand Super Saloon Car Championship continued at the weekend with Tauranga’s Chris Cowling defending his national title at Cromwell on Saturday night.
Cowling qualified second for the 34-lap final alongside former champ and Baypark rival Sam Waddell. Cowling chased Waddell till the closing laps when he made an inside pass and was able to build a comfortable margin.
Waddell finished runner-up ahead of Christchurch’s Mark Osborne and Baypark drivers have now won six consecutive Super Saloon national titles.
And the Saturday success for Baypark racers extended to other Speedway venues with Super Stock driver Todd Hemingway winning the Waikato title at Huntly while Max Guilford claimed his first win of the season at round three of the War of the Wings Sprint Car Series in Greymouth.
The next meeting at Baypark Speedway is the third annual Bay Piston Cup Sprint Car feature on Saturday January 27 with Hamilton racer Dean Brindle facing a strong field as he attempts a hat-trick of wins.