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by Gavin SearleIn what was described by many veteran fans - including myself in over three decadescover racing, as the "best midget car race ever in Christchurch", Michael Pickens andBrad Mosen, both from Auckland, battled it out over the closing laps of the 71st NewZealand Midget car Championship at Ruapuna Speedway on Saturday evening endingwith Pickens, the defending champion winning his fifth national title in the past decadenarrowly from Mosen and with Dave Gick third to make it an Auckland trifecta. To the sounds of 'Let’s Get Ready to Rumble' the 20 cars started to grid up for the 25lap final it set the platform for the Pickens - Mosen titanic battled who slugged it wheelto wheel over the final laps which had the large crowd cheering above the noise car thecars. Pickens, who had lead from the start looked to have the title under control for thefirst half of the race before Mosen mounted his challenge to win what would have beenhis first national title. On laps 18 and 19 the two cars raced side by side with Mosenfinally taken the lead by centimetres in the next lap.For the next three laps the lead swapped almost on each turn as both drivers produceda series of brilliant slid passes only for the other driver to return the move on the nextturn. Pickens then pulled out the fastest laps of the race in lap 23 which finally saw off the Mosen challenge with Pickens taking the chequered flag by handy margin, fromMosen with Gick claiming third by less than a car length from the fast finishing ShaneO'Conner followed, Dayne Maxwell and Ricky Logan (all Auckland) with Logan's sixthplace also an amazing driver after he start on the grid twenty. Nick Donaldson was thefirst Christchurch home, following Chris McCutcheon (Auckland) for eighth place.Pickens felt that he always had the final "under control"."It was just a matter of waiting as the car got better and better with each lap", statedPickens after the race.Pickens showed why his is regarded as among the top dirt car drivers in the world whenhe dominated qualifying on Friday evening included shattering the 12 lap record by over4 second. In the two qualifying heats on Saturday the 30 year old passed the most cars- 28 to earn pole position for the final. Pickens who has feature wins in Australia, USA aswell as NZ but now looks set cut back on midget car racing as he switches to thesprintcar division.Mosen was disappointed that he has just missed out on claiming the NZ #1."It was great race and I felt we had him (Pickens) but we bent a shock when the fieldbunched up on a yellow which meant I could not tighten it (the adjustable shock) asmuch as I wanted to in the closing laps and that was the difference", said Mosen.Duane Todd took out the TQ Masters title raced over three points with 27 cars lining upin the first heat. The Napier driver won the final heat to go along with two fourthplacings to finish three points clear of Paul Le Cren (Auckland), local Jeremy Webb andAuckland Jarred Taylor who all finished on 70 points.

Results (Competitors from Christchurch unless stated)New Zealand Midget Car Title
Group 1
Ht 1. Michael Pickens (Auck) 1, David Kerr 2, Shane O'Connor(Auck) 3, Alvin Cobb(Huntley) 4, Dave Gick (Auck) 5, Peter Hunnibel (Auck) 6Ht 2. Pickens 1, Gick 2, Cobb 3, Gavin Wilkie (Dunedin) 4, Scott Millar 6.Ht 3. O'Connor 1, Pickens 2, Kerr 3, Alistair Wootten(Auck) 4, Hunnibel 5, Wilkie 6.Qualifying Points: Pickens 32, Kerr 24, O'Conner 24, Cobb 21 , Wilkie 19 - all qualify -Gick 17, Hunnibel 16, Wootten 13 , Millar 12, Steve McCullum 10, Harley Taylor (Auck) 7
Group 2
Ht 1. Nevil Basalaj (Nelson) 1, Wayne Green (Auck) 2, Chris McCutcheon (Auck) 3, RickyLogan (Auck) 4, Glen Durie 5, Darren Nankivell 6.Ht 2. Basalaj 1, Green 2, McCutcheon 3, Logan, Scott Buckley (Auck) 6.Ht 3. Durie 1, Green 2, Logan 3, Basalaj 4, Buckley 5, Andrew Brown (Nelson) 6.Qualifying Points: Basalaj 28, Greene 27, Logan 21, Durie 21 , McCutcheon 16 - allqualify - Buckley 12, Nankivell 8, Ricky McGough (Auck) 8, Brown 7,
Group 3
Ht 1. Duane Hickman(Auck) 1, Nick Marquet (Nelson) 2, Hayden Williams (Auck) 3, BradMosen (Auck) 4, Dayne Maxwell (Auck) 5, Nick Donaldson 6.Ht 2. Williams 1, Mosen 2, Hickman 3, Maxwell 4, Marquet 5, Jared Wade (Auck) 6.Ht 3. Mosen 1, Maxwell 2, Wade 3, Hickman 4, Marquet 5, Donaldson 6.Qualiflying Points: Mosen 26, Hickman 25, Williams 22, Maxwell 22, Marquet 21 - allqualify - Wade 17, Donalson 14, Glenn Everett 0, Chris Gilliam (Auck) 0
B Main
Gick 1, Wade 2, Donaldson 3, Hunnibel 4, Buckley 5.
NZ Championship Final
Ht 1. Williams 1, Mosen 2, Pickens 3, Donaldson 4, Maxwell 5, O'Connor 6, Green 7,Basalaj 8, Buckley 9, Wade 10.Ht 2. Pickens 1, O'Conner 2, Kerr 3, Gick 4, Nick Marquet 5, Buckley 6, Wade 7, Mosen 8,Hickman 9, Basalaj 10.

Qualifying Points: Pickens 38, O'Conner 34, Mosen 32, Buckley 27, Donaldson 26,Marquet 25, Wade 25, Gick 24, Basalaj 24, Maxwell 23, Green 22, Williams 20, Hickman20, McCutcheon 20, Kerr 18, Cobb 10, Durie 10, Wilkie 6, Hunnibel 4, Logan 0
Pickens 1, Mosen 2, Gick, 3, O'Connor 4, Maxwell 5, Logan 6, McCutcheon 7,Donaldson 8, Wade 9, Hickman 10, Green 11, Kerr 12, Marquet 13, Hunnibel 14, Wilkie15, Durie 17, Cobb 17.
TQ Masters
Ht 1. Bair Warren 1, Kimberley Yeatman 2, Mark Alexander (Napier) 3.Ht 2. Jeremy Webb 1, Paul Le Cren (Auck) 2, Kyle Glover 3.Ht 3. Gareth Bindon 1, Shane Phillips (Auck) 2, Duane Todd (Napier) 3.Ht 4. Jared Taylor (Auck) 1, Ben Gilmore 2, Justin McMinn (Aust) 3.Ht 5. D Todd 1, Bindon 2, Tom Lumsden 3.Ht 6. Webb 1, Lindsay Bailey 2, Le Cren 3.
Webb 1, Le Cren 2, Phillips 3.
B Main:
Craig Todd (Napier) 1, B Warren 2, Brad Day (Aust) 3.
Masters Proper
Ht 1. Lindsay Bailey 1, Lumsden 2, Gilmore 3.Ht 2. C Todd 1, Taylor 2, Le Cren 3.Ht 3. D Todd 1, Le Cren 2, McMinn 3.Points: D Todd 73, Le Cren 70, Webb 70, Taylor 70, C Todd 68, Bailey 66, Lumsden 65,McMinn 63.
Ht 1. Alan Chapman, Steve Mora 2, Jamie Duff 3.
Ray Baughan 1, Duff 2, Caleb Brooks 3.
Modified Sprints
Ht 1. Kieran Harris 1, Darryl Harris 2, Josh Walls 3.
Caleb Baughan 1, Walls 2, Charlie Jackson 3,