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Lightning Sprint Series for Ruapuna

After several years of threatening to show significant growth, it looks like the South Island based Modified Sprint class will get "the injection it needs" according to Allan Daly, who has organised a three round series for the class to take place at Stadium Finance Ruapuna Speedway, Christchurch in January.

The Avon Insurance TraNZtas Lightning Sprint Showdown has attracted three top Australian drivers including their current Ligtning Sprint national champion Sean Iacona. There has been significant interest from the North Island based Mini Sprint drivers as well.

"The Modified Sprint and Mini Sprint classes are so close in just about every way. The Modifieds run motor cycle engines- the Mini Sprint 4 cylinder water cooled engines from road cars. In Australia the Lightning Sprints run both. We are hoping that this series will be the basis of a unification of the two classes in New Zealand," said Daly.

Mini Sprints and Modified Sprints co-existed in the 1990's before the Mini Sprints faded from the scene in the South Island.

Local speedway officials are very keen on backing the series, and the interest from the North Island has been a great motivator for Daly.

"There are too many classes in New Zealand Speedway. Hopefully we can join these two classes together to create a really good section that gives drivers a greater range of engine options. It will also enable inter island movements between cars and maybe a meaningful, true national championship."

In recent years Christchurch based Modified Sprint drivers have freighted their cars to contest major Lightning Sprint events in Australia, and proven to be very competitive against the water cooled inline 4 cylinder engines. In 2011 Southbridge based racer Tom Lumsden almost snared the Australian title when he took his car across the Tasman to compete at Sydney where a late race charge saw him finish second. Earlier this year Lumsden along with fellow Ruapuna competitors Jim Doyle and Ben Gilmore competed in Queensland with Lumsden taking out the prestigious Easter Cup.

Daly is hopeful that this years series, which kicks off on January 30, will become an annual fixture on the Australasian 'small car' speedway calendar.

Photo: Hard charging Ruapuna Modified Sprint racer Verdon McHaffie is sure to be in the thick of the Tranztas Series action.