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