Gisborne Giants bloodied, but unbowed
The Gisborne Giants had three of their team injured and only three cars still running by the final, but still managed to finish runners-up in the New Zealand superstock teams championship in Palmerston North at the weekend.
Robertson Holden Speedway was sold out for the two nights of the championships, the pinnacle event on the annual Speedway New Zealand competition calendar.
“It was definitely a pretty brutal couple of nights,” said Gisborne Speedway Club's Kelly Simpson, who was there.
“Gary Davis (31G) was treated for a slight concussion, Nick Vallance (45G) has a broken pelvis, and Jamie Hamilton (9G) was also checked in hospital for a neck injury, that fortunately turned out to be only a neck strain.”
She said the Giants qualified fourth from Friday's eliminations.
“They were well beaten by Kihikihi Kings in their first match-up on Friday night, but then finished first, second and third against the Rotorua Rebels, and that was enough to see them through as fourth qualifiers for Saturday's semifinals.”
The Giants beat the Palmerston North Panthers in their semifinal but it came at a cost and they only had three cars running for the final against the Hawke's Bay Hawkeyes.
“Peter Rees drove Nick's car because Pete's was irreparable on the night, and the spare driver Tim Ross went out in Gary's car,” Simpson said.
“It was always going to be tough with four cars on three, and the Hawkeyes crossed the line first to take the title.”
Ethan Rees was the only Gisborne car still running at the end.
“It was brutal, and the Giants can be so proud of themselves for the way they competed — they put up a good show,” Simpson said.
“They fought on until the end.”
Ethan Rees (127G) said it was an awesome couple of nights' racing.
“The team did well with what we had to do it with, especially with only three cars in the final.
“We gave it our best shot, that's for sure.”
Rees said the injured drivers were all on the mend.
“Nick was injured on Friday night and was released from hospital on Saturday, and the other two guys have recovered pretty well.”
His father Peter was over the moon with the result and he echoed his son's comment that to beat Palmerston North in the semis was probably the best feeling of the weekend.
“We didn't get the big trophy but that didn't worry any of us,” he said.
“We were all stoked to finish where we did.
“We would especially like to thank all our supporters who came to the track both nights, or who watched the racing online. We appreciate all their support.”
He recommends the event.
“It's just a full-on weekend of hard racing. If people have not been to see it they should put it on their ‘to-do' list.”
The Giants will next compete in the Auckland superstock teams nationals at Waikaraka Park in early March.
' Gisborne Speedway Club production saloon racer Sean Robertson can now put 3NZ on the side of his car.
He finished third in the New Zealand championships in Cromwell at the weekend.