Auckland speedway hero Michael Pickens will enter tonight’s World 30-lap derby as favourite, having reeled in American Bryan Clauson on Boxing Night’s opening round of the United Truck Parts International Midget Series at WXC Speedway – Western Springs.
Former six-time national midget champion Pickens is now predominantly a sprintcar driver in New Zealand, however, he proved to have not lost his touch in the midget division, making it a two-man race before taking advantage of a misfiring Clauson to claim victory.
“It’s pretty special, Clauson dropped a cylinder with about 10 laps to go but that’s the way the cookie crumbles and we’ll take what we can get,” said Pickens.
“For much of the race we were sort of running at 80% not making any mistakes; I felt that if I pushed a bit harder I may have made a mistake and lost some distance on Clauson.
“I felt like I was catching him little by little each lap then when he dropped a cylinder he seemed to just come straight back to me.”
Clauson managed to hold on for second place ahead of current national champion Brad Mosen in third.
Tonight’s meeting also features the 63rd running of the New Zealand TQ Midget Championship, as drivers from around the country converge on Western Springs to fight for the right to wear the coveted #1NZ badge in 2016.
Three-quarter midget veteran Lawrence Baker will line-up as Auckland’s in-form contender having taken the win on Saturday night over Ricky Brett and Jeremy Webb.
“Anything can happen on a championship night but it’s great to have got the win on Saturday to give me some good momentum leading into the big one,” said the 54-year-old.
If not Lawrence, either of his two sons Ryan or Scott may grab tonight’s TQ glory with the TAB starting them both at $10 each to win, while Lawrence is set at $12. The shared race favourites, according to the bookies, are Napier cousins Duane and Craig Todd, each offering $7 for victory.
Also in action tonight are sprintcars, F2 midgets and Kiwi Kidz. Gates open at 4pm with the first race starting at 6:15pm.