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Visiting van Gisbergen sets Sprintcar race alight

Supercar star Shane van Gisbergen ends his holiday in New Zealand with his first Sprintcar feature win in Palmerston North on Saturday night.

IVAN SMEATON

Supercar star Shane van Gisbergen ends his holiday in New Zealand with his first Sprintcar feature win in Palmerston North on Saturday night.

In an action-packed night of speedway for the non-contact classes, it was Supercar star Shane van Gisbergen who set Palmerston North alight.

On holiday in New Zealand after winning the Supercar title in Australia, as well as Bathurst, the Kiwi driver won his first Sprintcar feature of his recent races around the North Island when racing at Robertson Prestige International Speedway in Palmerston North on Saturday night.

After completing his feature win, van Gisbergen drove back to Auckland for a Sunday morning flight back to Australia.

Van Gisbergen won the opening race before finishing third in the second race, showing all his skill in coming from well back and passing wide against the wall.

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Regular visitor Greg Pickerill won the second race, but couldn’t get near van Gisbergen in the feature after he got the jump on Pickerill. Mount Maunganui’s Bayley Betts finished a close third.

After finishing top qualifier, the impressive Ashleigh Halcrow couldn’t hold off Josh Smith in the one race that decided the Manawatū saloon title.

Halcrow had won the opening heat and finished third in the third heat to start the feature from pole, ahead of Craig Korff and Halcrow’s father Martin with Smith also on the second row.

In a tightly fought race, Smith got the break out wide to head off Halcrow and take the Manawatū title.

In a prelude to February’s national minisprint title, which will be decided in Palmerston North, local Elliot Heron headed off Stratford’s Karl Uhlenberg in a tightly contested Manawatū championship final.

Both drivers had finished qualifying level on 61 points, with Heron winning the last two heats, while consistency was the key for Uhlenberg with two thirds and a second placing.

National champion Dyaln Smith was third in the big 22-car field.

The TQ Midgets are rarely seen at CET Arena, but they turned on exciting racing as they always do.

With time running out, their one race final was altered to be points over the three heats.

In a replay of the last national championship, it came down to a battle between the country’s top two drivers: Aaron Humble and Kayden Barker.

Despite winning the final heat, Barker couldn’t turn the tables on 1NZ Humble, with his second placing enough to win the Manawatū title by a single point ahead of Barker.

Auckland’s Dean Cooke was third a point further back.

Whanganui’s Max Guilford won the midget feature and the night’s points by a point from Chris Bagrie, with Karl McGill third.

Stratford’s Mark Williams won the other race.

The only contact class racing was stockcars, which managed just two races, with Wayne Vercoe and Caleb Gosney winning the races.

While in Rotorua, the Palmerston North Pumas team of Kyle Rowe, Hamish McLeod, Daniel Burmeister, Jaden Hall and Taylor Lampp demolished the Rotorua team in a prelude to the stockcar Teams Championships next month.

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