Action aplenty for large crowd at Teretonga

| Photographer Credit: Bruce Jenkins

There was action aplenty for the large crowd that congregated at Teretonga Park in Invercargill this weekend to enjoy Southern Thunder 2016, featuring the premier classes of New Zealand motor racing.

While the weather was mixed, most of the racing was held in dry conditions. There were plenty of incidents however and the track’s first response crew were kept busy throughout proceedings.

Local driver Brendon Leitch gave the crowd plenty to cheer about in the Toyota Racing Series as he finished second in the Spirit Of A Nation Trophy Race behind former World Karting Champion Lando Norris of the UK. Earlier in the weekend Jehan Daruvala of India had won the opening TRS race, beating Norris in a race punctuated by several stoppages. Leitch had run third throughout only to get pushed out on the final restart leaving him fifth. Pedro Piquet of Brazil won Sunday morning’s race from Norris and GP2 star Artem Markelov of Russia with Leitch fourth after running wide on the slippery fringes of the track. Norris won the round from Leitch with Markelov third.

Racing on Saturday had been delayed after NZ Super Truck competitor David West of Pukekohe hit the armco barrier by the pitlane in his Freightliner Argosy resulting in a huge amount of damage to both truck and barrier. West was uninjured but taken to hospital for a check. The incident caused a delay of more than two hours as officials did a mammoth amount of work repairing the barriers to allow racing to continue. The first Super Truck race scheduled for later in the day was cancelled but the trucks returned on Sunday with a speed limit on the front straight.

The first race saw a good battle between Andrew Porter of Manukau and Malcolm Little of Upper Hutt originally won by Porter until a 10 second penalty relegated him to second behind Little with local driver Garry Price of Winton third. Later in the morning reverse grid race Porter came through to win from Shane Gray of Lower Hutt with Price third again after penalties were applied. The trucks capped off the weekend with their final race.

Australian based kiwi, Andre Heimgartner, won the round for the BNT NZ Touring Cars after winning two of the three races. Simon Evans of Auckland was second overall for the weekend with Mitch Cunningham third. In Class 2 Brock Cooley of Wellington took a clean sweep in his Falcon to win the round and extend his championship lead. Nathan Pilcher, formerly of Winton, was second overall. The races were eventful with Auckland’s Angus Fogg winning the third race which featured a compulsory pitstop.

In Class 2, local driver Liam MacDonald, had a lot of pace but not a lot of luck throughout the weekend. He crossed the line first on Saturday only to receive a penalty and then had to stop to avoid a spinning car on Sunday costing him another probable victory.

The ENZED Central Muscle Cars thrilled the crowd with their brand of V8 racing. Clarke Hopkins of Papakura won the round in his Torana A9X from Michael Eden of Wanganui (Falcon) and Dean Perkins of Pukekohe in another Falcon. Paul Kelly of Christchurch, Bruce Dreadon of Paeroa, Cam Crawford of Auckland and former NZ Grand Prix winner Andy Knight all won races throughout the weekend.

Michael Scott of Te Puke and Aaron Marr of Wanganui battled it out at the front of the Formula Ford field throughout the weekend Scott winning two and Marr one. Hunter McElrea of Australia collected two thirds and James Webb of Feilding was third in the other. Scott won the round from Marr and Webb. Southlanders fared well with Jordan Michels and Ethan Anderson scoring some good finishes with Michels best a fourth while Steve Heffernan, Corey Hodges and Joseph Oliver also went well, Hodges winning the South Island Formula Ford Class 3 for the round.

In the Toyota 86 races Callum Quin of Auckland won Saturday’s race despite a safety car period and a red flag. He held off John Penny who had driven through the field with Jamie McNee third ahead of Michael Scott and championship leader Ash Blewett of Auckland. On Sunday morning Ryan Yardley of Christchurch won from pole on a drying track from Penny and Blewett with Scott eighth. On Sunday afternoon it was Scott from Blewett with Quin third.

The next meeting at Teretonga Park is the Evolution Motorsport Classic SpeedFest over the weekend of 20/21 February.

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