Keeping Up With The Jones Boy
Keeping Up With The Jones Boy
A combative fortnight in Australia has given former sprint car national champion Kerry Jones added confidence that he'll be the driver to beat in Springs Speedway's new National Series.
Jones and Allan Wakeling, both seven-times national champions, took time out from racing at Western Springs to head to Perth for a two-test series against leading Australians.
Driving in borrowed cars, the Kiwi pair dropped the first test at Bunbury, two hours south of Perth, but bounced back to edge out their trans-Tasman rivals at the magnificent new Motorplex in Perth last weekend.
For Jones, who took the 2002/2003 season off, the Australian experience was the rev-up he needed.
"Because I didn't race last year I was concerned about my fitness," he said. "I was most worried about my neck muscles because I've never found a fitness regime that prepares you for the g-forces you experience when racing, but the body survived really well.
"The ironic thing was that it was a bit of a gamble to miss two meetings at home, but because last Saturday night's Springs Speedway meeting was rained out, we ended up getting in quality racing while our competitors remained idle."
Rather than finding themselves well behind in the 8-round National Series, Jones and Wakeling have only missed one meeting and practically start on an even footing given that drivers can drop their worst performance off the points table at the end of the eight meetings.
"We're in an easier position now," Jones said. "Sure, we have some catching up to do, but I'm confident we'll be on the pace and can give the field a real shake up."
Jones and Wakeling will have to readjust to the smaller track at Western Springs. The Motorplex complex, which was purpose-built on the outskirts of Perth and includes a drag strip, has a track that is 22 metres wide all around, making it considerably wider than most circuits.
"The width means there are more lines you can take as a driver and it provided some incredible action with cars coming down the straights three and four wide!"
Jones says the test win at Motorplex helped dull the pain of the All Blacks' loss to Australia the same night and he was just thankful they were in Perth, where there hasn't been the same interest in the Rugby World Cup.
"We didn't get much ribbing about the rugby, but I'll be happy if I never hear another sheep joke. And I'm pleased to be away from the huge flies that we referred to as Aussie's native birds!
"I'm also hoping that we've brought back a little bit of the Perth sunshine because I know the Springs Speedway drivers are getting a little stir-crazy having had two out of three meetings postponed because of rain.
"Having everyone amped should make for some exciting racing tomorrow night."
Heading into this weekend's meeting, Kerry Brocas heads Ossie Sokol and Tommy Rusher in the Sprint Car standings.
Graham Standring, Michael Pickens and Carl Worboys are the top three in the Midget car class, with several leading contenders, including Michael Kendall, Bryce Townsend and Lance Beale, yet to register their first points.
In the TQ (three-quarter midget) class Steve Harker leads the series from Bill Clarkson and Scott Joblin.
Because two of the three meetings this season have been rained out, Springs Speedway organisers have scheduled an additional meeting for December 20.
Springs Speedway at Western Springs, from 7pm