Speedway: Brothers first and third in saloon grand prix

The Cowling brothers, Chris and Steve, filled two spots on the podium following the final of the New Zealand saloon grand prix at Beachlands Speedway on Saturday night.

The younger of the siblings, Chris, who is based in Mt Maunganui, earned family bragging rights and the title, while Steve claimed third place.

Sandwiched between the brothers was Auckland driver Phil Towgood.

Cowling's win went some way towards making up for the disappointment of crashing during the final of the New Zealand saloon car championships in Cromwell last week. He had qualified in top place but was one of several drivers to come unstuck and hit the wall while leading, on lap three.

Steve Cowling finished runner-up at Cromwell to Blenheim driver Rob Flood, who missed the Dunedin meeting due to work commitments.

Beachlands Speedway vice-president Matt Stewart said the standard of racing was high and the North Islanders had a clear edge in the speed stakes.

''It was tight racing with the top seven or eight cars all very close,'' Stewart said.

''It was nice and tight racing. Incredibly fast and very clean. Anyone of them could have won it. You could tell the North Islanders are definitely a high-class group ... that's for sure.''

New Zealand No 3 Brent McClymont got caught up in traffic and had to settle for fifth place, while golf caddie Steve Williams claimed a top-10 finish.

The only local driver to make it through qualifying was Dave McCallion. Top local hopes Mark Newall and Reon McPherson missed the cut.

Stewart had hoped for a crowd of 5000 for Saturday's racing but was content with a crowd of about 3000. About 2000 people watched qualifying on Friday night.

It was the first time Beachlands had hosted the New Zealand saloon grand prix and Stewart said the event went without a hiccup.

''Everything went well. The racing was awesome and the crowd definitely got their money's worth.''