Carters Tyres SI Endurance Series invades Ruapuna this weekend
The Carters Tyres SI Endurance Series invades Christchurch’s Mike Pero Motorsport Park at Ruapuna this Saturday with most of the top teams, drivers and cars in NZ Endurance racing set to battle it out in the annual SIERDC 3 hour endurance race. At the Series opener earlier this month fans witnessed an exceptionally gruelling race with multiple twists and turns but with a substantially increased grid for Round Two, all teams will need to be at the peak of their game to get further points on the board for both the Carters Tyres SI Endurance Series Championship and to qualify for the upcoming MSNZ NZ Endurance Championship event in March 2018.
The predicted battle at Teretonga was somewhat reduced during qualifying when the exquisite new Manthey Porsche 991 of John McIntyre/Simon Gilbertson suffered terminal engine failure. The Angus McFarlane/George McFarlane Porsche GT3R were also on the back foot early, the father & son combo loosing close to 7 laps after an off track excursion to the slippery Teretonga infield, and they will be looking for a stronger showing at their home circuit. This left Scott O’Donnell/Allan Dippie (Porsche 991 GT3) to take the battle for opening round honors to the Dwayne & Matt Carter Mercedes SLS AMG GT3. The experienced local duo falling just short eventually finishing just 20 seconds behind the Series sponsored car after the full 3hrs of racing resulting in the Carter brothers machine taking their third SIERDC race victory in a row. Backing up their unexpected front row start at Teretonga with their first SIERDC podium finish was the Falcon V8ST of Paul Rickerby/Graeme Rhodes who will also be looking forward to returning to home soil, who finished just ahead of the McFarlane Porsche who climbed their way back up to outright 4th place. With all these teams returning for the Series’ second round, including the welcome return of the Manthey Porsche for McIntyre/Gilbertson complete with freshly rebuilt engine, this weekend’s Ruapuna round will see the highest number of FIA GT spec cars ever assembled for a NZ series, even surpassing the number seen at Ruapuna for the NZ championships back in March.
Included in the influx of top machinery for Ruapuna is the defending champion Trass Family Motorsport Team who return with the sleek red Ferrari 458 GT3, with series rookie Andrew Fawcett teaming up with current North Island and NZ Endurance champion Gene Rollinson. Fans who were disappointed that the Tulloch Motorsport SaReNi Camaro was sitting this season out will be thrilled to hear that Ruapuna will rumble to the thunder of the second of these GT3 spec Camaro’s for Glenn Smith/John De Veth. Audi will be represented by two cars run by the very slick International Motorsport outfit, with an Audi R8 LMS Ultra for Neil Foster/Johnny Reid and also the latest spec, brand new Audi R8 LMS GT3 for Andrew Bagnall, who was spotted at Ruapuna last Friday getting some track time under the belt and is rumoured to be pairing up with international star Matt Halliday for the Ruapuna race. Another exciting addition to the D class will be experienced international race team Mike Racing, who have selected the all-female combination of Chelsea Herbert and Christine Orr-West to share their Aston Martin Vantage V8. The last of the major teams who will journey south is a last minute entry from the Smeg Racing team who will be blooding up and coming driver Callum Quin alongside regular pilot Simon Evans in their Commodore V8ST. The Evans lead team will also be one of the cars aiming to win the prestigious BJ Lloyd Memorial trophy for 1st V8 home at the Ruapuna round. For 2017 there are multiple brands that could snare this historic piece of V8 silverware, including Ferrari, Chevrolet, Mercedes, Aston Martin, Chevrolet, Ford or Holden which will make for an intense race within a race and none of this big field of Class D & E cars could be discounted from claiming a podium finish.
The “Kiwi built” Class C (3501cc+) was dominated by the Toyota 86 of Craig & Scotty McDermid at Teretonga as they mixed it with the GT class cars, in fact leading the race overall for the first few laps before a broken input haft ended their run about the 2hr mark. This class was marred by endurance racing attrition and others not to finish included past class champions Darryl Barrett/Hamish Frew (RX7 V8) who lost a rear wheel, the Nascar engined Falcon of Perry Scarfe/Grant Silvester and the BMW 135i of North Island visitors Rob Williams/Scott Harrison. The BMW V8 of past RX7 & Mini Challenge champion Eddie Bell and young gun Jordan Michels also suffered multiple issues throughout the race but were lucky enough to crawl across the finish line with the car in limp mode to be classified as a finisher. As the only finisher in class, Bell & Michels hold a commanding point’s lead in the class, but with all these cars returning for Ruapuna the battle will well and truly be alive and getting to the chequered flag Ruapuna is now even more important in the Class C championship fight.
The Class B (2001-3500cc) winners at Teretonga were Tim Mackersey/Barry Moore in the VW Golf GTi with the sister car of experienced duo Ron Mackersey/Warren Good taking second in class. Third in class and showing their potential after finally having a trouble free run was the Mazda RX8 of Jarrod Parmenter/Andrew Brunton. Defending class champion Mike Driver/Phil Hood (Seat Leon Supacopa) finished well down the field after a wheel bearing failure and another to suffer mechanical issues in their return to the 3hr field was father & son Combo Pat & Ryan Heagney (Toyota AE86 T). A late 3hr entry at Teretonga was Matt O’Donnell (BMW Mini Challenge) after he missed out on a starting spot in the oversubscribed 1hr race and he will be joined by Kieran Grace at Ruapuna.
Defending NZ Class A (0-2000cc) champions Arron & Stu Black (BMW E30 WTCC) took out class honours in the Series opener with an amazing 5th place overall. Rodney & Michael Parkes (Honda S2000) took second in class ahead of 3hr series rookies Mark Taylor/Vaughan Moloney (Integra). there was another courageous battle at the tail end of this class between the Peugeot 106 of Tim Stanton/Leyton Tremain the 2K Cup Mercedes 190E of Victor Cattermole/Matt Holland, but they were both narrowly pipped by the new Toyota Altezza of Grant & Matt More who claimed 4th in class on debut. Other series rookies Darryl & Terrence Phillips (Integra) were another team to suffer issues at Teretonga, not starting the race with gearbox issues and could easily put the cat amongst the pigeons, making this class as competitive as any other within the entire Series.
As the quick-fire three round Carters Tyres Series passes its half way mark after Ruapuna, there is no rest for the teams as they then tackle the tight & twisty Levels Raceway circuit in Timaru on 14th October for the Series Grand Finale where the overall series champion will be awarded the ‘South Canterbury Toyota Cup’ as Carters Tyres SI Endurance Series winners. Thanks to Series sponsor Carters Tyres Service as well as Allied 24/7/fuel, the Series will again have a massive prizemoney pool of over $30,000- that will be paid out for 2016, as well as major spot prizes up for grabs to a competitors in either the One Hour or Three Hour Series.
There are entries are still available for the Ruapuna round and for more information, or to be added to the South Island Endurance Racing Drivers Club’s e-mailing list, please contact Chris Dunn via e-mail at [email protected] Club information and live updates on race day can be found on the clubs facebook page www.facebook.com/sierdcnz, and for more information on the series sponsor Carters Tyre Service, please visit www.carterstyres.co.nz. The Ruapuna action starts from 10.30am Saturday and gate entry is only $20-00.