Williamson makes solid start to World Championships
By Jonny Turner
New Zealand representative Matthew Williamson quickly adapted to Swedish racing to make an excellent start to the World Driving Championships.
Despite drawing three horses that started at long odds, the Oamaru reinsman sat in sixth placing after the first day of the competition, held at Solvalla on Friday night (New Zealand time).
The highlight of Williamson’s first three attempts on European soil came when he produced a second placing with Verendi in the third and final heat.
He picked up valuable points, which took him to a tally of 22 points at the end of day 1.
That places Williamson just 11.5 points behind the leader, Ulf Ohisson, who has the advantage of competing in his home country throughout the series.
Williamson said he was happy with the way he had started the championship.
“I was happy with the way I drove two of my horses.”
“In the second heat, I got too far back and should have been a lot closer.”
“Running second in the last heat was great.”
The combination of his solid start and experiencing racing in a trotting-mad country meant Williamson was thoroughly enjoying his Swedish experience, so far.
“I am loving it over here.”
Williamson had to quickly adjust significantly different on-track rules in the competition.
Sweden has tight whip rules that are in stark contrast to New Zealand regulations.
“You are only allowed to use the whip five times in the last 500m of the race.”
“There is no tail-swishing or anything like that, they all count.”
The speed-bowl style of track used in Sweden also contrast with those used in New Zealand.
“The camber on the bends is unreal.”
Williamson will race again at Solvalla on Saturday night in one heat, that is timed to run at 11.55pm (New Zealand time).
The World Drivers Championships competitors will not compete on Sunday, but will be free to take in the Elitlopp final.
Five heats will be held at Lindesberg on Monday (New Zealand time).