Connor Adam takes early points lead in Toyota 86 Championship

Connor Adam takes early points lead in Toyota 86 Championship

Connor Adam has won the first round of the 2018-2019 Toyota 86 Championship after an intense weekend of racing that brought two wins and a second place for the Post Haste-backed International Motorsport racer.

Three fiercely contested races went largely incident free and produced some of the best racing of the Supercar Championship curtain raiser for the Toyota series in front of an official crowd figure exceeding 100,000.

Experience was the name of the game at this early stage of the championship with Adam, Jordan Baldwin in the Intermach car and Jaden Ransley in the Miles Toyota car all shining over the weekend.

Baldwin bounced back from missing Friday practice due to exam commitments with a blistering qualifying session that saw him lock out pole position for both Race 1 and Race 2 while Ransley crossed the line first in the final race on Sunday, only to drop to third after incurring a five second penalty for a jumped start.

It was Adam who put the three best races together, however, and he left Pukekohe as the early leader in the points. “I would have loved another win in that last race,” he commented. “But regardless it was a great weekend for us and a great start to the season. We’ll go on from here and try and win the championship.”

CareVets Scholarship racer Callum Hedge proved his class as best of the rookies over the first weekend showing pace and good race craft in all three races. Second in the final race became his first win after Ransley’s penalty and was a nice reward after an eye-catching opening weekend in the category. And it left him sitting second in the points too and ahead of more experienced rivals Baldwin and Ransley. CareVets team mate Arran Crighton had to play catch up all weekend after damaging his car beyond immediate repair in qualifying and he had to jump into a back-up car for the weekend’s three races.

Australian Toyota 86 ace Jake Klein impressed on his first visit to a New Zealand race track and went quicker and quicker each time out to take fifth for the round while young Brock Gilchrist never put a foot wrong as he bagged a trio of top ten finishes on his debut weekend.

Peter Vodanovich showed great speed in the CMC Markets car, but a retirement after contact with Kaleb Ngatoa in the first race required a long afternoon and evening of work for his crew and set him back for the rest of the weekend.

Of the rest, Justin Allen in the Battery Town car, Andrew Jackson in the North Shore Toyota and Campbell Stewart in the NZPGS car all showed consistent form to finish in the top ten for the round.

Barring his Race 1 clash with Vodanovich and the resultant penalty, Kaleb Ngatoa would have finished higher up the points than tenth. The youngster – mentored by Kenny Smith – did show enough pace to indicate he will be a factor at future rounds, however.

Toyota 86 Championship 2018-2019 Driver Standings

1 Connor Adam 217
2 Callum Hedge 189
3 Jordan Baldwin 188
4 Jaden Ransley 174
5 Jake Klein 143
6 Brock Gilchrist 130
7 Andrew Jackson 111
8 Justin Allen 101
9 Campbell Stewart 95
10 Kaleb Ngatoa 92
11 Sam Wright 90
12 Arran Crighton 85
13 Mitch Hughes 84
14 Jacob Cranston 84
15 Peter Vodanovich 81
16 Connor Davison 66
17 Tony Austin 56

Neil Foster claims third straight win to take out South Island title

Neil Foster has won the 2018 Carter’s Tyres South Island Endurance Series Three Hour title after claiming a third straight victory at Timaru International Raceway on Saturday.

Foster’s Audi R8 LMS GT3 won all three series races along with co-drivers Jonny Reid (round 1 & 2) and Gene Rollinson (round 3).

Second home at the Timaru round was the series sponsor’s Carter’s Tyres Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 driven by Dwayne Carter and Shane Hodgson followed by the Marco Schelp/Matt Hamilton Porsche Cup S and the Scott O’Donnell/Allan Dippie Porsche 991 in fourth.

“I couldn’t be happier with that result,” Foster said.

“Three in a row and a couple of lap records is a great result for the team.”

Rollinson had lapped the entire field before the 30-minute mark and set a new lap record of 58.626 seconds in the race.

“We decided to put Gene (Rollinson) in the car first to put a gap on the field which worked well for us.”

Heading into the final three-hour race, 12 different teams had a mathematical chance of winning the title including the Ben Byers/Jaxon Evans Audi R8 Ultra GT3 and the George McFarlane/Jack Milligan Porsche 997 GT3R. Both suffered transmission problems with the Audi retiring and the Porsche rejoining the race but down in 26th place.

While Foster/Rollinson stayed out in front it left their rivals fighting for podium places. Two safety car periods did little to change the running order other than to allow a quick splash and dash for the Carter’s Mercedes with 45 minutes remaining.

“We did that to make sure there weren’t any issues,” Dwayne Carter said.

“The car ran well with no hiccups or issues. We didn’t have the pace of the Audi but pleased for the team to bring her home in second.”

Thrilled to be third home was the pairing of Schelp and Hamilton. Having retired out of the first round after one hour and only completing two hours in the second round, the team was hadn’t expected a podium result.

“It’s really great to finish third,” Schelp said.

“Matt did a great job and with one stop it set me up to bring the car home and get a good result. Hopefully we have done enough to qualify for the NZ champs in November.”

As well as the overall title and five Class titles, drivers’ and teams were also looking to qualify for the New Zealand One Hour Endurance Championship event at Highlands Motorsport Park on 24 November 2018. Twenty places are available for not just the quickest but more for the most reliable finishers over the three rounds.

While Foster claimed the title, it was the consistent performances over the three rounds from the O’Donnell/Dippie and Tim Mackersey/Barry Moore pairings that saw them second and third overall.

Foster also took the Class E win ahead of Carter/Hodgson and McFarlane/Milligan pairings.

The ever-consistent duo of Allan Dippie/Scott O’Donnell (Porsche) finished fourth in the round and cemented overall honours in Class D ahead of the Paul Rickerby /Graeme Rhodes Falcon V8ST with the Schelp/ Hamilton Porsche 997 Cup S third.

Series winner of Class C (2001-3500cc) was the Mazda RX8 V8 of Grant Williams/Ben Williams/Rick Matheson finishing ahead of the NZV8 spec Falcon of Kevin Underwood/Jordan Michels. Third was the Holden Camaro of Bruce Tinnelly/Ryan Tinnelly.

The TCR spec VW Golf of Tim Mackersey/Barry Moore that led Class B (2001-3500cc) heading into the round won the class ahead of the older spec Seat Leon Supercopa of Mike Driver/Simon McLennan. Third on points was Pat Heagney/Ryan Heagney’s (Toyota Sprinter Turbo).

Defending Class A champions Stu Black/Arron Black’s BMW E46 WTCC slipped to third overall with gearbox issues. This opened the door for Darryl Phillips/Terence Phillips (Honda Integra) to take the series win from the reliable Peugeot 106 of Tim Stanton/Leyton Tremain.

Qualifying teams now prepare for the national title race at Highlands Motorsport Park, Cromwell in November.

Whittaker wins as Henderson claims his second One Hour title

Chris Henderson has won the Carter’s Tyres One Hour South Island Endurance Series after finishing second in the third and final round at Timaru International Raceway on Saturday. Matt Whittaker (Gen2 Porsche 991) won the 60 min race from Henderson (Toyota AE86 V8,) and Rowan Shepherd (Porsche 997 GT3 Cup).

Having won the 2017 series, Henderson was not expecting a repeat performance in 2018. “Very happy with that,” commented Henderson. “We are surprise winners as we expected some bad luck which never came. It was awfully busy out there with traffic, so happy to finish where we did.” Henderson had won the opening round at Teretonga, Invercargill then finished fourth at Ruapuna two weeks’ ago.

Whittaker added to his first win two weeks’ ago at the second round in Christchurch. Having missed the opening round with preparing his brand new Gen2 Porsche 991, the objective was to qualify for the national endurance race later in the year at Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell.

“The car is going great, although we still haven’t sorted it completely,” commented Whittaker. “Hopefully we have qualified as missing a round can really hurt.”

While Henderson put his very quick Toyota Corolla on pole it was Whittaker that immediately took the lead with both Henderson and Shepherd slotting in behind him. This was the order of racing for the next 60 minutes with all three finishing in sight of each other at the chequered flag.

Henderson sustained some minor panel damage from traffic early in the race and was blacked flagged requiring a pit stop to fix a rubbing panel. Meanwhile Shepherd was hoping for a safety car.

“Yeah, we had been hoping for a safety car which never happened,” said Shepherd. “We would have pitted during that time, but it never happened. We just don’t have the pace of the front two but third overall is more than we hoped to achieve.”

Whittaker broke the Timaru race record completing 55 laps in 1:00.08. Previously the record was 55 laps in 1:00.40sec.

Thirty-seven cars took to the track competing in four different classes. The Class A (0-2000cc) series title went to Stuart Black/Arron Black (BMW) with Andrew Kitching (Honda Civic) second and Angus McFarlane/Michael Bushell (Toyota Starlet) third.

Marco Schelp (BMW KK WTC 3.5 M3)) was first home in Class B (2001cc-3500cc). Despite also winning the class at Ruapuna, Schelp had missed the opening Teretonga round. The overall Class title went to Mike Driver/Phil Hodd (Seat Leon Supacopa) with Geoff Clear (Honda Civic) second and Craig Elstob (VW Golf) third.

Overall winner Henderson also won Class C (3500+) ahead of Garry Derrick/Ben Derrick (Porsche 996 Cup), with the Nissan R32 of Murray Beeby/Karl Beeby third
Rowan Shepherd took out Class D honours with Allan Dippie/Scott O’Donnell (Porsche 997 Cup S) second ahead of Danny Whiting (Porsche 991 Cup) third.

The top 20 drivers now qualify for the New Zealand One Hour Endurance Championship event at Highlands Motorsport Park on 24 November 2018.

Strong Kiwi contingent for Hampton Downs 500

The official entry list for this weekend’s Laser Plumbing & Electrical Hampton Downs 500 has been confirmed and there’s a strong contingent of Kiwi drivers in what doubles as the penultimate round of the Australian Endurance Championship (AEC).

Championship leaders Jaxon Evans and Tim Miles lead the charge from across the Tasman. The Australian-based Kiwis have dominated the opening two rounds of the championship in their Audi R8 LMS. Evans has been turning heads in recent months with his performances in the Porsche Carrera Cup and the AEC and the 21-year-old is tipped for big things in the sport.

Another Australian-based Kiwi, Dominic Storey is lying third in the AEC standings going into the Hampton Downs 500, and together with co-driver Peter Hackett, they will be ones to watch.

Former A1GP stars Matt Halliday and Johnny Reid will relish the opportunity to test themselves against established V8 Supercars drivers including David Russell, Tony D’Alberto and Steve Richards and McLaren factory driver Alvaro Parente from Portugal. The Kiwi pair will team up with Andrew Bagnall and Neil Foster respectively in the International Motorsport Audi R8s. Jon Udy and Matt Whittaker complete the driver pairings in the third International Motorsport Audi.

Other Kiwi entries include Andrew Waite driving with Hampton Downs owner Tony Quinn in the McLaren and Andrew Fawcett and Gene Rollinson in the Trass Family Motorsport Ferrari.

All of the Kiwi drivers entered in the two AEC rounds in New Zealand — the Highlands 501 from November 10-12 is the season finale — will be eligible for the inaugural NZ 1001 trophy which will be awarded to the driver with the most combined points from the two events.

“We were hoping for a few more Kiwi entries,” says Tony Quinn, the owner of Hampton Downs and the Australian GT Championship. “Some cars and drivers that were hoping to make it had to pull the pin in the last week or so and some of the Australian teams haven’t made the trip this year.”

“The risk that you run by having an event at the end of the year is that some cars are in various states of disrepair. Some of the drivers are dealing with budget constraints. Others haven’t had a great start to the season, so it’s understandable why some of the Aussies haven’t made the trip across the Tasman. I’m still really looking forward to what should be a great weekend of racing.”

It’s shaping up to be a busy weekend at Hampton Downs with big fields for the two support categories, Central Muscle Cars and the Ssangyong Racing Series which will be making its debut on the Hampton Downs circuit.

The Fast & Furious Racing format will also make its debut at Hampton Downs this weekend. Fifteen cars have been confirmed for the inaugural event including a Lotus, McLaren and a Crawford DP. Fast & Furious Racing has been called the Twenty20 of motorsport with the focus on short, sharp sprint races.

Qualifying for the Laser Plumbing & Electrical Hampton Downs 500 starts on Saturday with live coverage of the Top 10 Shootout from 2 pm. The Hampton Downs 500 feature race will be broadcast live on TV3 on Sunday, with the race starting at 12.30. There will be free WiFi at the circuit so spectators can tune into the live stream and keep up with all the action.

Michael Scott qualifies fourth at Bathurst

Former New Zealand Formula Ford champion Michael Scott has impressed in his returning hit out in the Australian Toyota 86 Championship at Bathurst — qualifying Fourth for the category’s opening race.

While Scott has raced in the series before, a cameo performance at The Bend represents his only drive in the series this year. He was only edged on the timesheets by pole-sitter Tim Brook, Jake Klein, David Sieders, and Zane Morse.

Scott also managed to outqualify IndyCar Series and Pirelli World Challenge (as well as fellow Toyota 86 Bathurst rookie) James Davison — cousin to Supercars drivers Will and Alex Davison.

Like yesterday, the Bathurst circuit was coated in wet for the majority of the session. Times were down as a result, with Brooks claiming pole on a 3:00.2864. Scott was 1.5-seconds behind, with the circuit conditions splitting the field with large margins.

Among those not to maximise their time behind the wheel was Jack Milligan. The reigning New Zealand Toyota 86 Championship winner was unable to recreate his scintillating 2017 Bathurst pace, and will instead line up in 20th place on the 38-car grid.

Milligan’s main solace was that he still managed to outqualify fellow Toyota Racing Australia driver and former Australian Touring Car Champion Glenn Seton by three positions.

The opening race of the weekend for Scott and Milligan takes place tomorrow morning, at 11.20am NZDT.


Drama all the way in Endurance race

The drama continued even after the chequered flag dropped in Saturday’s Carter’s Tyre Service South Island Endurance Series 3 Hour race at Teretonga Park in Invercargill.

The sizeable crowd had witnessed Southlander Damon Leitch take the Aston Martin Vantage he shared with Tony Quinn across the line to win the race from Neil Foster and former NZ A1GP driver Jonny Reid in their Audi R8 LMS GT3 Ultra.

However as he returned to stop at parc ferme on the start/finish line Damon used his car to give a sizeable nudge to the Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 driven by his brother Brendon Leitch and Christina Orr-West allowing them to cross the line and claim third place after the car had ground to a halt short of the finish. However the action resulted in the disqualification of both cars, handing the win to Foster and Reid with Dwayne Carter/Shane Hodgson (Auckland) second in their Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 with George McFarlane /Jack Milligan of Christchurch (Porsche 997) third.

The Foster/Reid Audi had made an early pitstop when the safety car made its first appearance of the day and spent the rest of the race playing catch up, closing in on the Aston Martin as the laps wound down. Reid said later the race was a “real challenge.” “As a team we had a strategy and we stuck to that. It led to us chasing but to come back and be so close on track was probably more satisfying than bringing out a new machine and dominating. I thought Damon drove particularly well and he can hold his head high.” Foster and Reid also set a new lap record during the race with a lap of 55.471 seconds.

Damon Leitch said it was “disappointing that the race ended that way.” “We would have done the same for anyone to help a fellow competitor. We had a great race, the car ran faultlessly. We were navigating traffic the whole race, it was very busy. Tony (Quinn) put in an awesome drive.”

Ben Byers and Jaxon Evans were fourth in their Audi with Invercargill’s Scott O’Donnell and Allan Dippie of Dunedin fifth.

North Island Endurance Series Champions, John McIntyre and Simon Gilbertson in a SaReNi Camaro were eliminated on Friday when their car was damaged after brake failure.

Thirty-five cars took the start earlier in the day for the 1 Hour Race. Last year’s winner Chris Henderson of Dunedin in his Toyota AE86 V8 made it back to back victories after qualifying on pole and leading away from the Scott O’Donnell/Allan Dippie Porsche 997 Cup S. The race was punctuated by three safety car interventions for various incidents around the circuit, the first appearance prompting a flurry of pit stops.

Chris Henderson of Dunedin (Toyota) leads the One Hour field into the first corner of the race

Henderson was pleased with the win. “We did not have it all our own way. Over those first laps we had a ding dong battle with Scott (O’Donnell) before I managed to get a gap. The traffic was awesome. They all drove really well.” Henderson also revealed he lost power steering and the car ran hot all day and said he nursed it home although he said a best lap of 57.931 seconds belied that fact. It actually came after a safety car when the car had cooled a little.” Henderson had already returned home overnight and replaced the radiator system in the car after a new system installed as part of changes this year had caused overheating in testing at the circuit on Friday.

O’Donnell and Dippie finished second just 4.065 seconds adrift while Rowan Shepherd of Rolleston was a close third in his Porsche 997 Cup car. All three covered 50 laps.

The next race meeting at Teretonga Park presented by Downer takes place on Sunday 4 November and will feature the Noel McIntyre Drainage Clubmans series cars.

Jonny Reid and Neil Foster win dramatic South Island enduro

Jonny Reid and Neil Foster have won a dramatic second round of the Carter’s Tyres South Island Endurance Series.

Christchurch circuit Mike Pero Motorsport Park hosted a healthy field for the three-hour feature in hot conditions.

After recording the top times in qualifying, International Motorsport led the field into turn one with their two Audi R8 LMS GT3 racers.

Gene Rollinson – paired with Andrew Fawcett – led Neil Foster through turn one and two, but Damon Leitch in the Tony Quinn Aston Martin Vantage GT3 was quick to demote Foster to third.

Rollinson and Leitch led the way and established a gap between themselves and the trailing pack. Roughly five seconds was the margin between the pair throughout the opening few laps, while Foster was some 30 seconds in arrears.

The Glenn Smith/John de Veth run McLaren 650S GT3 nearly ended up in the gravel at turn one after they sustained a puncture a few laps into the race. They crawled back to the pit lane, but lost a handful of laps in the process.

ITM MIKE Racing driver Christina Orr-West was surprisingly off the pace in the early running. A pit stop 25 minutes into the race saw them drop three laps.

Orr-West and co-driver Brendon Leitch retired from the race before the first hour could be completed. Their car was brought into the pit lane having suffered with an engine issue.

They weren’t the only Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 team parked early. The Carter’s Tyres car driven by Dwayne Carter and Shane Hodgson failed to make the start following an overheating issue.

Just 35 minutes into the race and Rollinson lapped the sister Interantional Motorsport car of Foster. The first hour ran without incident, but the race was soon turned on its head.

The first round of pit stops began just over an hour into the race. Race leader Rollinson got out and Andrew Fawcett jumped in. Likewise, Foster got out an Jonny Reid got in. There were more pit stops too, including Damon Leitch swapping for Tony Quinn.

Reid un-lapped himself with an hour and 15 minutes complete. Shortly afterwards the first safety car was called for a stranded Toyota 86.

The race restarted with Fawcett leading Quinn. Behind them Jaxon Evans fought to get back a lap while the man in third place overall was just behind him also looking to get a lap back.

Reid blasted by Evans and only two laps later cleared Quinn for second. Moments later Fawcett opened the door and let Reid by. Then drama hit as Quinn tried to go through the open door too and clipped the back of Fawcett’s car.

Fawcett spun and with now where to go Quinn had to follow him off. He quickly lit up his tyres in the grass and spun his car around. Both managed to get going, but hemorrhaged a healthy amount of time.

The chaos continued as Jonny Reid got handed a drive-through penalty for an unexplained incident.

Shortly afterwards later Quinn quick Fawcett and spun him. The former race leading Audi sat stranded in the middle of the road with damage to the rear of his car.

The safety car was brought out and Quinn was duly given a drive-through penalty.

As the race went green again Quinn pitted, he got out, and Leitch got in. Leitch served the penalty and a lap after that Reid pitted to serve his penalty too.

Once the penalties and pit stops played out it was Reid/Foster leading Leitch/Quinn and surprise performers Jack Milligan and George McFarlane who sat third.

Chaos ensued once again when the Coffin/Bushell V8-powered RX-7 blew up, the McDermid/Head Toyota 86 stopped, the Sutton/Holland Mazda RX-7 spun, and the Schelp/Hamilton Porsche 911 GT3 Cup S slowed into the pit lane with a broken axle all on the same lap.

Once again the safety car was called out to recover the RX-7 and the Toyota 86.

The race went back to green with a little under 45 minutes to go. Reid led by a healthy margin over Leitch. But that quickly narrowed to just 10 seconds after passing the lapped traffic.

While Leitch slowly narrowed the gap to Reid, Evans was quickly catching McFarlane for third. With 40 minutes to go Evans cleared McFarlane and duly tool third place away.

The final stanza of the race saw Reid lead Leitch at a stable margin of seven seconds. Reid hit traffic, which narrowed the margin to just over four seconds.

Reid continued to slowly lose time to Leitch, and with 20 minutes to go there was just under two seconds between them.

His biggest loss came when the Cooper/Cooper Mustang GT4 baulked Reid through the turn four, five, six and seven section. That brought Leitch to within under a second of the lead and in sight of passing.

The race couldn’t finish without one more dose of drama.

A puncture with only a handful of laps to go forced Leitch into the pit lane for a fast tyre change, ending their hopes of a win.

Ultimately it was Reir and Foster who came home winners well ahead of Quinn and Leitch, while Evans and co-driver Ben Byers scored a surprise podium.