The ASKO South Island Endurance Series blasts into life this weekend with its annual trip to the world’s southernmost race circuit at Teretonga Park, Invercargill for Round One of its Three Round Series. The 2015 ASKO Endurance Series is guaranteed to be as exhilarating as previous years, where finishing races, performing well & accumulating championship points will be the key to endurance success, plus with the Series acting as a qualifying series for the revised New Zealand Endurance Championship, there is more than just ASKO Series glory on the line.
The fastest endurance cars in New Zealand are heading south for the Series opener and it will be a sight to behold as they line up on the fast Teretonga circuit. The series is again excited to have ASKO Appliances as its naming rights sponsor and along with series sponsors Mobil 1, Armstrong Prestige, Carters Tyre Service, Hagley Windows & Doors and Pacific Invoice Finance they have managed to secure a significant prize money pool to pay out to series competitors. “For 2015 we have over $30,000 that we will pay out across the Series” said Series Secretary Chris Dunn. “Plus we have a magnificent $10,000 Norm Sinclair original painting, a set of Michelin race tyres and goodies from ENDLESS brakes that will all be given away as spot prizes, so it’s the biggest prize and prizemoney package we have ever had.”
Although actual 3hr entry number are down slightly, the Series is excited with the quality of entries and once again they have some new and electrifying cars joining the Series. The battle for outright honors is likely to come from the glitzy GT class, and could 2015 finally be the year where the 5 year Porsche domination ends.
Defending ASKO and NZ Endurance Champion Andrew Bagnall teams up with Series sponsor Rick Armstrong in the stunning new Audi R8 LMS Ultra which is run by International Motorsport and will definitely be a frontrunner. However their opposition includes recently crowned North Island Endurance Series champion and local identity Inky Tulloch & John McIntyre who will drive the amazing FIA GT3 SaReNi Camaro that is now showing its muscles after some glitches last season. Other V8 machinery that will be pushing the limits include the thundering ex-888 V8 SuperCar of Matt & Dwayne Cater, who will be looking to back up their 2009 Series win, and the V8 SuperTourer Commodore of V8ST regulars Simon McLennan & Richard Moore. However the Stuttgart machines are still well represented with a Porsche 997 GT3 for Sam Fillmore & Danny Stutterd, a 997 Cup S for last year’s 3rd place finishers Allan Dippie & Scott O’Donnell, and the fully rebuilt 997 Cup R of Angus & George McFarlane who were another team plagued with issues during 2014. However the cat amongst the pigeons could easily be the brand new space framed Chevy Cruise V8 that has been built by NZV8 TLX constructors MRX Race Extreme and described as their ‘wildest creation to date’, which will be piloted by ASKO Series regulars John Wadsworth & Warren Croft.
With the factory built and space framed cars in the exotic GT class, Class 1 (3501cc +) is dominated by the more traditional ‘home-built’ Kiwi Hybrids and picking a class winner here is equally as impossible. 2011, 2013 & 2014 class 1 champions Graham Rhodes & Paul Rickerby return with their familiar RX7 V8 for another defense of their class title and will again be joined by the sister car of Darryl Barrett & Hamish Frew, who are fresh from finishing 3rd outright in the North Island Endurance Series. Others to look out for in Class 1 will be two cars who had a wretched 2014 Series, the magnificent Corvette C6R of Bruce Davidson & Dave Garden and Craig & Scott McDermid who are waving the turbo flag with the amazing twin turbo Supra powered Toyota 86, so you can guarantee that Class 1 will also be an enthralling duel.
A few of the Class 2 (2001cc -3500cc) cars have dropped back into the One Hour Series for 2015, but the heat will still be on for a class 2 win and NZ Endurance Championship qualification in a class that will see the flawless BMW M3 Turbo of Shane Helms & Rob Bolland who’s biggest opposition will come from the very experienced duo of Jim Wallace & Stephen Grellet who move from their BMW M3 to a turbocharged Seat Leon Supercopa for 2015.
The final class is the combined class 3&4 (0-2000cc) which will see a genuine tortoise and hare battle with the brand new Lotus Exige of Mark Meadows & Barry Calder set to make its debut against Ken Sinclair & Mike Ham who will again line up in the ever reliable Peugeot 106 and will keep everyone in this class honest through reliability if not speed. Others to look out for in class 3&4 include 1hr competitor Barry Moore who will join series rookie Robert Gjaja in a Honda Civic but the class has seen a late withdrawal of the ex-World Touring Car BMW 320i of Arron & Stu Black.
So this season is the best chance yet for another V8 series champion, however the magnificent V10 Audi could easily steal the show, and with qualification for the NZ Endurance championships on the line as well as big prizemoney and ASKO Series bragging rights we are in for another great season.
After this weekends round at Teretonga, the ASKO Endurance Series moves to Mike Pero Ruapuna, Christchurch on 3rd October before the Series grand finale at Levels Raceway, Timaru on 17th October, where the overall 3 Hour Series champion will be awarded the prestigious South Canterbury Toyota Cup as the winner of the 2015 ASKO Endurance Series.
Qualifying and the race at Teretonga are on Saturday 19th September, with the 3hr race expected to start around 1:30pm. There are still some entry spots still available and for more information on the South Island Endurance Series, entries, or to be added to the South Island Endurance Racing Drivers Club’s e-mailing list, please contact Chris Dunn via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.nzEnds