New Zealand Saloon Car champion Rob Flood, of Blenheim,
said the adrenaline was still pumping an hour after his win
at the Central Motor Speedway in Cromwell on Sunday
morning. Photo by Lynda van Kempen.
His goal was just to make the New Zealand Saloon Car
Championship final at Cromwell but Rob Flood aced that by
winning his first national title.
''I'm shaking ... I can't really believe it's happened,'' the
Blenheim driver said, an hour after winning the race at the
Central Motor Speedway, early on Sunday morning.
It was the first time the national event had been held in the
South Island and also the first time a South Island driver
had won the title and the right to race with 1NZ emblazoned
on his car. ''I came here with the ambition of qualifying and
being in the top 20 cars through to the final,'' Flood said.
The final was a stop-start affair and only eight cars were
left on the track after six stops as competitors crashed or
had mechanical problems. Flood took the lead in his Ford
Mustang after the sixth stop, with 16 laps of the 25-lap race
to go, and was soon the length of the straight ahead of his
nearest rival. Steve Cowling finished in second place and
Brent McClymont, who was runner-up last year, finished third.
Flood (35) is in his fifth season of competition and it was
his first attempt at the national title. He said the
interruptions to the race did not distract him.
''You just concentrate on what you're doing, as well as
keeping an eye on the others. Once I got into the front, I
just went with it, but I honestly expected, every time I
turned a corner in the track, to have someone else come
powering through from behind.''
This year was already shaping up to be a special one for the
self-employed painter and his wife Nikki, as they are
expecting their first child in June. Mrs Flood was in
Cromwell to watch her husband race and admitted she shed ''a
few buckets of tears'' as he won. The support of his wife,
parents and pit crew, all contributed to his success, he
It was special to win the event in the South Island.
Cromwell, together with Nelson, were his two favourite
racetracks in the country, Flood said.
Central Speedway president Andy Erskine, of Arrowtown, said
the feedback from drivers about the track and organisation of
the event was very complimentary.
''It was a big deal for a small club like us, with a small
volunteer base, to host an event like this but the drivers,
especially those who travelled so far, were impressed with
how well the track stood up and they loved the race
Countless hours had been spent preparing the track and
volunteers and the club's sponsors had ''worked hard to make
this happen,'' he said. Erskine estimated between 1500 and
2000 people attended the two nights' racing at Cromwell.