SsangYong Racing Series Championship leader Jayden Dodge (#91 Stadium Finance SsangYong) of Christchurch, narrowly topped the round points from Auckland’s Joel Herbert and Rowan Shepherd, at the end of another very competitive and exciting round of the 2015/2016 SsangYong Yong Racing Series Powered By The BNZ Bank, at Hampton Downs over the weekend (January 30/31).
Another impressive lineup of twenty-eight drivers competed in front of an appreciative crowd at Hampton Downs, with four very close races providing lots of action right through the weekend.
Dodge was the fastest qualifier in his Stadium Finance sponsored #91 Actyon Ute for the second consecutive round, ahead of Joel Herbert and Chelsea Herbert in their MTF Finance sponsored SsangYong Utes. Again, highlighting how competitive the SsangYong Series is, the top 15 in qualifying were covered by just one second!
Championship leader Dodge won an eventful race one on Saturday from the pole, in hot and humid conditions from Joel Herbert and Auckland SsangYong racer Hayden Johnston. They were followed by Chelsea Herbert, Matt Gibson, and Royce Rollinson to complete the top six. Notably, defending Series Champion Daniel Connor finished outside the top ten after suffering damage to both ends of his #1 Carters Tyres SsangYong in an opening lap incident which also involved a couple of other drivers.
The second race on Sunday morning lined up in similar conditions to the first race, with the top ten on the grid reversed from their finishing positions from Race 1. Christina Orr-West and Kieron Rollinson started from the front row, with Dodge and Joel Herbert starting from row five. Rowan Shepherd started from the second row of the grid and got passed early race leader Orr-West to take a hard earned victory. Christina held on narrowly for second from Royce Rollinson, with Matt Gibson finishing fourth, followed by Joel and Chelsea Herbert. Jayden Dodge crossed the line in eighth after an eventful race, but was later penalized post-race for two separate incidents involving contact with other drivers. He was put back to twenty-third with the time penalties, costing the Championship leader valuable points.
Series history was made in Race 3, with Joel Herbert scoring his second ever SsangYong Racing Series victory from pole position. However the big news was that Joel’s sister Chelsea finished second for a fantastic Herbert family/ MTF Finance Team 1-2! Chelsea had to hold off a charging Jayden Dodge at the end of the race for the historic result. Matt Gibson scored another fourth place finish, ahead of Royce Rollinson, and Hayden Johnston.
Jayden Dodge then scored his second victory of the weekend in the final race, having started from grid two alongside polesitter Joel Herbert. Rain started falling after a couple of laps, with the tricky and slippery conditions catching most out during a challenging final race of the weekend. Dodge got into the lead early on, with Herbert falling back to sixth. This and a fastest lap bonus for Dodge was enough to narrowly take the round win from Herbert. Rowan Shepherd had a huge moment into turn one as the rain started falling, but recovered to finish a close second behind Dodge at the end of the race. Royce Rollinson was third, followed by Daniel Connor, Todd Prujean, and Herbert.
So after four more exciting and action packed SsangYong Racing Series races at Hampton Downs, Jayden Dodge won the round, and extended his Championship lead, despite the race 2 penalty. Joel Herbert was second for the round ahead of Rowan Shepherd. After four rounds of the Championship, Dodge (2864 points), leads from Shepherd (2343 points), with Joel Herbert (2134 points) now third overall.
Next up for the SsangYong Racing Series is Round five, at Manfeild this weekend (February 13/14 2016), featuring as one of many classes for the NZ Grand Prix meeting , where another full field of SsangYong Actyon Utes are expected.