Thunder will hit the south this weekend as the stars, cars and trucks of New Zealand’s premier motor race series roll into Invercargill for ‘Southern Thunder’ at Teretonga Park.
The Toyota Racing Series will feature another line up of up and coming stars from around the globe with thirteen nations represented and many of the drivers targeting Formula 1 as their ultimate goal. Austrian royal, Ferdinand Habsburg leads the series after the opening round last weekend although it is very close between the leading drivers. GP2 star Artem Markelov of Russia is currently second ahead of the youngest man to ever win the World Karting Champion, Lando Norris of the UK. Ferrari Driver Academy protege Guanyu Zhou of China is fourth followed by Force India Academy driver Jehan Daravula of India. Next up is local Brendon Leitch who won the feature race, the Southland NZ Spirit Of A Nation Trophy Race, last year. Leitch made a strong start to the series last weekend and is sixth in the series behind the race hardened international stars. Pedro Piquet of Brazil – son of three-time World Champion Nelson Piquet is also prominent after the opening round. Another Southlander, Jamie Conroy, while not racing this year, will be in action carrying out testing for Toyota during the weekend.
The unification of the V8 SuperTourers and NZ V8 Touring Cars under the banner of the BNT NZ Touring Car Series will see fantastic competition in two classes. Class 1 for the former V8 SuperTourers and TLX V8s sees Simon Evans of Auckland currently leading the series from Australian Jason Bargwanna and another Aucklander Tim Edgell while Wellingtonian Brock Cooley leads Class 2 from Auckland’s Brad Lathrope. Invercargill’s Liam MacDonald is the man of the moment however after taking the Class 2 honours at Ruapuna last weekend while Nathan Pilcher, formerly of Winton, returns after a good series last season.
Others to watch in Class 1 will be Aucklanders Mitch Cunningham and Angus Fogg plus Nick Ross of Cambridge while Andre Heimgartner, who competed for Super Black Racing in Australian V8 Supercars last year, will make another appearance in the series after a good showing last weekend.
Cars such as Mustangs, Camaro’s, Torana’s Falcon’s, Commodores, Pontiac, a Chevy Monza and a Valiant Charger will provide an exciting spectacle in the ENZED Central Muscle Cars first visit to Teretonga. Invercargill driver Brendan Mason is the local hope in the class along with Gore’s Paul Muir while former Toyota Racing Series Champion and NZ Grand Prix winner Andy Knight and V8 star Dean Perkins are among the entries.
The NZ Super Trucks are another class with a huge following in the south with northerners Andrew Porter, Troy Wheeler and Malcolm Little leading the way after their opening round at Timaru. Garry Price of Winton will be looking forward to an outing on his home track.
Aaron Marr of Wanganui has a narrow lead over Michael Scott of Te Puke in the Formula Ford Class while Ethan Anderson of Riverton is doing a fine job to hold third in the championship. Jordan Michels of Invercargill is well placed in seventh while three-time New Zealand Class 2 champion Steve Heffernan, Joseph Oliver and Corey Hodges are all doing Southland proud. The Formula Ford races are also rounds of the South Island Series this weekend and Anderson and Michels are prominent there too while Hodges leads Class 3. Ash Blewett of Auckland heads the Toyota TR86 field with other prominent names such as Craig Innes, John Penny and Caleb Cross in the field.
Presale tickets can be found at the Teretonga Park Office, Auto Centre, Tweed Street, Invercargill, E Hayes & Sons, Leven Street, Invercargill and Russell Keeler Automotive at 20 Gorton Street in Gore. In Queenstown Hansens Auto Services in Repco Boulevarde, Industrial Place will stock tickets while in Dunedin they can be found at Magnum Compliance in Turakina Road, South Dunedin. A pre sale weekend pass is $45 which allows admission on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. A weekend pass for all three days purchased at the gate is $60 while a Friday only pass is $15, a Saturday only pass $25 and a Sunday only pass $35. Children 14 and under are free if accompanied by an adult.
The action starts each day from 9.00am.