Champions crowned at thrilling SpeedWorks Events Pukekohe Park Final
The final outing for the 2016–’17 Speed Works Events Motorsport Championship saw a plethora of series decide their title winners across numerous classes. All but two of series were competing for series titles, which brought its fair share of action across two days of racing.
Tradezone GTRNZ GT1/GT2
New Zealand has a habit of producing some of the weirdest, wackiest, fastest and most furious racing machines the world over. Even when they’re built overseas they still somehow make their way back over to New Zealand.
Expat-New Zealander Max Crawford used to build cars for the OSCA Series before making the trip to the United States of America where he continued his engineering expedition. Crawford grew as a company, and with it came bigger and better car builds.
British born Andy Scriven was chief designer at Crawford, where he designed the DP03 Daytona Prototype chassis, the same chassis Kiwi Glenn Smith drives in the GT1 class.
Smith brought the car to New Zealand and quickly transformed the car into a weapon capable of smashing lap records around the country. Last weekend he continued his onslaught as he reset the benchmark at Pukekohe Park on a 1:01.008 in race one with his Porsche powered monster.
In race two Smith went even faster as he became the first driver to go sub one-minute on a 59.783. However, he was given a 10-second penalty for smashing the breakout time meaning he dropped to fourth, but his time still stood.
Fellow Crawford Daytona Prototype pilot Adam Newell took out overall honours. He looked to have found some needed pace behind the Ford powered prototype as he took a second in race one, a win in race two, and third in race three with the fastest lap in the final.
In GT2 John De Veth held off a spirited charge from fellow V8 SuperTourer driver Tony Anderson to take the title for the second year straight.
TradeZone GTRNZ GT3/GT4
Heading into the final round of the six weekend long series, Mitsubishi driver Shayne Freeman held a mere six-point advantage over nearest rival Terry Jones for GT3 honours.
Jones held the upperhand after the first race of the weekend which saw Freeman finish fourth, Jones ahead in second. Title contender Hayden Roose Butcher won the weekend opener, but needed luck on his side to be a contender.
Freeman was given a lifeline in race two, however, as Jones failed to finish and Butcher finished well down in ninth. Freeman, on the other hand, cruised home to take second just over half a second behind Maurice Shapley.
Despite taking second in the final handicap race of the weekend, Butcher couldn’t dent Freeman’s lead. Again Terry Jones finished deep in the field unable to finish the race with a mechanical failure.
Motul Honda Cup Series
The final round of the Motul Honda Cup Series promised to be an barnburner with series leader Mitch Osborne and former champion Mark Walters going toe-to-toe for the outright honours.
Leading into the final round, Walters was pessimistic about his chances for winning the series. With Osborne showing superior pace throughout the season, Walters was sure he’d be pantsed in the final outing.
Race one of the series proved Walters’ point as Osborne eased out to nine second win over Shane Haitana, who found some needed form at the end of the season. Walters trailed in third, but was not near the pace of the two at the head of the field.
There was drama to come, however. Race two brought better fortunes for Walters with second place behind Haitana, but the real story was Osborne limping home in 11th place with a broken head gasket.
The margin between the pair heading into the final was less than five points. The series winner was effectively to be decided on a first past the post.
With Walters, Osborne and co starting from the pit lane the field began its final handicap race of the season. Walters left the line with Osborne in tow. Osborne limped around, but after just two laps his car gave up—Osborne forced to the roadside.
Ultimately it was Walters who took home fourth in the final and with it the 2016–’17 Motul Honda Cup Series.
SsangYong Racing Series
The always action packed SsangYong Racing Series saw 30 of the Actyon Utes piling around Pukekohe Park for their final outing of the season.
Consistency proved to be the key for eventual series winner Daniel Connor who recorded a third, second, third place finishes in the first three races before capping off the season with a victory in the fourth and final race.
Christina Orr-West began the weekend with a lights-to-flag victory, race two however saw her drop to seventh, but she fought back to take second in the final race.
Castrol BMW Open Series
Known for its variety of wild racing weapons, the Castrol BMW Open Series saw a fierce battle between Andrew Nugent in his BMW E92 M3 and Andre Mortimer in his BMW M3 E46. No one in the 19-car field could even come near the pair over the course of three races.
With pole position for race one by just half a second on a 1:07.013, Nugent looked odds on to be the man to beat. He went on to convert pole position into race one victory, but less than a second split the pair at the line.
Nugent continued his pace into race two with another tight win over Mortimer, but the pace would cost him in the final race of the weekend.
The handicap final put Nugent at the back of the field, but he didn’t make it to the line with mechanical woes.
Nugents pain gave Mortimer the perfect opportunity to pounce, and so he did as he swept through the field to the front. Eventually he took a seven second win over nearest rivals Marty Irvine and Hagen Issell.
Best of the rest
The New Zealand Super Trucks made the most noise they possibly could around the Pukekohe Park circuit.
Four races for them a small field plow around saw four different winners. Alex Little took the first win of the weekend by nearly six seconds, whilst Malcolm Little narrowly fought off Troy Wheeler in the second race.
Wheeler was second both times in races one and two, but he got one back on the two Littles with victory in race three. A DNF in the final put his weekend to an end, which was eventually won by Dave West.
The Mazda Pro7 Series was dominated by Justin Allen as he took two wins from three, with a second place in race two. The final race of the weekend was a thriller with some close fought racing throughout the field.
In the Pirelli Porsche Race Series Matt Whittaker made his case for a title challenge with two wins from three. Championship rival Brian McGovern just pipped the 991 pilot at the post by less than a second.
McGovern and Whittaker are challenging for the outright Pirelli Porsche New Zealand Motorsport Cup honours. Their battle will continue over April 14-16 at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Taupo.
The Kumho Tyres Pre-65 Series enjoyed a resurgence in field numbers with 19-cars taking to the grid. The class enjoyed three different winners across their three race weekend.
Wayne Davies converted pole position into race one victory and the fastest time a whole second faster than anyone in the field. Four second split he and second placed racer Tony Elminger.
Davies wasn’t so fast in race two with only fourth in the second outing, but it was George Sheweiry who headed the field. The handicap final gave Richard Hill a narrow winner over Tony —just two tenths of a second split the pair at the line.
-Velocity News (www.velocitynews.co.nz)