A large crowd was served up plenty of action and excitement at Teretonga Park in Invercargill today as Southern Thunder 2016 featuring the premier classes of New Zealand motor racing got under way at the circuit.
The schedule was delayed when NZ Super Truck competitor David West of Pukekohe hit the armco barrier in his Freightliner Argosy resulting in a huge amount of damage to both truck and barrier. West appeared unhurt but was 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.
The Toyota Racing Series race was incident packed with three safety car periods and two red flag stoppages as several cars left the circuit. Force India Academy protege Jehan Daruvala of India led home former World Karting Champion Lando Norris of the UK in an exciting finish with Antoni Ptak of Poland third and Brazilian Pedro Piquet fourth. The final restart decided the race as Daruvala got the jump on Norris who had led for much of the distance while local star Brendon Leitch lost out, falling from third to fifth.
The BNT NZ Touring Car race was held in wet conditions at the end of the day with Australian based Andre Heimgartner leading home Aucklanders Simon Evans and Mitchell Cunningham in another drama filled race. In Class 2 local Ford driver Liam MacDonald of Invercargill led Brock Cooley of Wellington over the line with Nathan Pilcher of Dunedin third.
Paul Kelly of Christchurch won the ENZED Central Muscle Car race in his Pontiac Transam after fastest qualilfier Andy Knight of Christchurch retired late in the race. Dean Perkins of Pukekohe (Ford Falcon) was second with Graeme Allan of Christchurch in a Camaro third and local driver Brendan Mason fourth.
Michael Scott of Te Puke led the qualifying times in both the Formula Ford and the Toyota Finance 86 Series. He converted the Formula Ford pole to a race win, leading Aaron Marr of Wanganui across the line with Hunter McElrea of Australia third. However in the Toyota 86 race it was Callum Quin of Auckland who took an early lead and 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 Scott and championship leader Ash Blewett of Auckland.
Tickets for tomorrow’s action can be purchased at the gate at a cost of $35 while children 14 and under are free if accompanied by an adult.The action begins at 9.00am.