This Saturday 19th September will see a full and exciting field journey South to Teretonga Park, Invercargill for the opening round of the three round ASKO One Hour Race Series. Run alongside the ASKO South Island Endurance Series, the 2015 Series is also a qualifying series for the revamped New Zealand One Hour Endurance Championship where the top 20 cars in the ASKO Series get invited to the New Zealand Endurance Championship event in March 2016.
Once again the One hour Series is a real mixed bag with a large number of new cars for the 2015 Series. This, along with seasoned campaigners making modifications & upgrades, means that Series organizers can promise the crowd will witness some great racing. Entries are wildly varied and range from near new Audi, Porsche & Ferrari race cars, through to little Toyota’s & Honda’s that are more commonly seen at the local supermarkets. So no matter if you’re a fan of V8’s, turbo’s, rotary’s, 2wd, 4wd, big, small, Japanese or European cars you will definitely be able to cheer on a favorite!
The driver line-up is equally as varied as the cars, with drivers ranging from young guns to old heads and the Series is also thrilled that female drivers are represented with both Sue McLaughlin (Porsche 997 GT3) and Vicki Curzon (Holden NZ6 Commodore) lining up in a race that will see drivers ranging from novice level to highly experienced.
The glamorous GT class is likely to be where both the race and outright series battle will be, as the Porsche 997 GT3’s of Phil Hood, Russell McKenzie, Sue McLaughlin, Danny Stutterd/Sam Fillmore along with 2014 ASKO 1hr Champion and current New Zealand 1hr Champion Hugh ‘Ace’ Gardiner, take on the 2015 spec Porsche 991 of Danny Whiting as well as the Ferrari 458 of Tim O’Connor and the beautiful new Audi R8 LMS Ultra of Neil Foster. However others to watch out for will be the twin turbo hot-rod Porsche 996 of Mike Bushell/Grant Silvester and 2013 1hr Series champion Grant Williams who will finally debut his Corvette Z06, and although downplaying his chances the American muscle could well take it to the precision Euro’s for GT class & overall honors.
It is likely that the super-quick Toyota AE86 V8 of Dunedin’s Chris Henderson will be the one to beat in Class 1 (3501cc +) and Henderson really gave the GT class cars a run for their money in 2014, only a heartbreaking failure on the last lap of the last round costing him the 2014 class title. Class 1 sees the classic V8 v Turbo battle and leading the turbo brigade will be 2014 class champion Johnny Waldron (R32 Skyline) whilst V8 fans should also keep an eye out for Brian Scott (Corvette C5) and the new V8 Falcon of Ian Clapperton, while the Euro’s of Chris Fleury (Porsche 964RS) and Mike Paterson/Brent Hill (Mercedes E430) could easily win the class through reliability if not outright speed.
The competition will be as fiercely fought throughout every class in the Series and Class 2 (2001cc-3500cc) is no different, although this year dominated by the turbo cars rather than the traditional BMW’s. A few of the traditional 3hr cars have dropped back to the 1hr for this season and speedsters for this class are likely to include the turbo cars of 2014 Class champions Pat & Ryan Heagney (AE86) as well as Steve Parker/Matt Jackson (S2000), Mike Driver (Seat Leon), James King (Civic T) and Michael & Rodney Parkes (Starlet) who take on the lone BMW M3 of Arron Black. Other cars in Class 2 range from Mini Challenge & Pro7 spec RX7’s through to the Classic Porsche 911SC of Guy Stewart.
Class 3&4 (0-2000cc) also has a strong field of entries with Stu Black (Starlet) likely to be the pace setter in the fast but fragile Toyota Starlet. The Toyota brand is well supported with Grant Aitken (Toyota 86), Reon Hotton (Corolla FXGT) and Art Markus (Starlet) whereas Honda will be represented by 2014 class champion Gary Ponting as well as Rhys Turner, Daniel Cropp and Nick Haines/Mike Noakes all in Civics, with entries also from Ian Wooster (MX5), Marc Denton (BMW E30) and the 2K Cup Toyota Trueno of series rookie Vaughan Moloney.
After next weekends opening round, the ASKO One Hour Race Series then heads to Mike Pero Ruapuna, Christchurch on 3rd October before the grand finale at Levels Raceway, Timaru on 17th October. The ASKO One Hour Race Series is seen as a fun and affordable way to enter endurance racing but still experience the thrill & strategy of the old fashioned tortoise and the hare battles that endurance racing is renowned for.
Thanks to Series sponsor ASKO Appliances as well as class sponsors Mobil 1, Pacific Invoice Finance, Hagley Windows & Doors, Carters Tyre Service & Armstrong Prestige the Series will again have a significant prizemoney pool that will be paid out across the One Hour classes, as well as major spot prizes that can be won by either 1hr or 3hr competitors.
Both qualifying and the race are on Saturday 19th September, with the 1hr race expected to start around 11:30am, followed by the 3hr race. For more information on the South Island Endurance Series, entries, or to be added to the Club’s e-mailing list, please contact Chris Dunn via e-mail at email@example.com ph 021-107-9293. Club information can also be found on facebook at www.facebook.com/sierdcnz, for more information on the series sponsor ASKO, please visit www.asko.co.nz