With New Zealand now back in Level 4 lockdown thanks to the arrival from Australia of the latest – Delta – strain of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, and an extension of Level 4 in Auckland until August 31, the teams which have successfully contested the first two rounds of the NaZCAR organisation’s new 3 and 6-hr Pro Series endurance races at Hampton Downs now face a nervous wait – to see whether or not the restrictions will be lifted in time for the final round of the inaugural series at Pukekohe Park Raceway on Saturday September 04 to go ahead.
“Because lockdown restrictions are cutting things fine,” says the man behind the new, NZ title-eligible series, Auckland-based motorsport event organiser Dr Jacob Simonsen, “I’m loath to make any hard and fast decisions on what we do about our final.
“I know, particularly after having such an excellent second round last Saturday, everyone left the track on a real high. However right now we’ve got bigger fish to fry.”
“It seems unlikely that we’ll be able to go ahead with the September date, even if everyone plays the game and we can get on top of this latest outbreak – we’d have to be in Level 2 to run the event”.
“What we have to remember is, Auckland is at the epicentre of this latest outbreak and there are no guarantees, so what I’m telling anyone who asks me right now (whether the final will indeed go ahead on Sept 04) is that 1) that’s what – right now – we are planning for, 2) they should be making the most of the current lockdown to make sure that their cars are ready in plenty of time, and 3) we are working on alternative dates if Sept 4th is a no-go.”
Certainly, after the first two rounds of the inaugural series the points situation across the four different time band classes in the 6 Hour standings could hardly be closer or more interesting with three of the four class leaders tied for the overall points lead with 440 points each, and the leader of the fourth just 20 points back with 420 points.
The situation is similar in the 3 Hour standings heading into the final round as well, though this time two of the class leaders are tied for the overall series points lead with 320 points, and the other two are tied for the runner up spot just 10 points back on 310 points
Despite the diametrically different weather and track conditions the first two rounds were run in (torrential rain showers for the vast majority of the first one in mid-July, and dry with just the odd passing shower at the second last Saturday) the results were remarkably similar.
The Team Trump Support BMW E36 of Andrew Ayre and Greg Honnor came out on top once again in Class 2, this time completing 218 laps, the same number as the nominally quicker BMW E36 of Class 1 winners Garry Cammock and Michael Jane of Mag Motorsport, which ended up second overall but the winner of Class 1 over emphatic Rnd 1 class victors, Jacky Tse and ‘Racing Ray’ Williams in Tse’s distinctive Honda Civic Type R 4-door.
At the second round last Saturday Tse and Willians only managed to complete 155 laps thanks to a faulty alternator and subsequent fitting issue with its replacement (borrowed from Tse’s road car!)
That meant that Tse and Williams finished ninth overall but remain in contention for the Class 1 win just 20 point behind the Mag Motorsport BMW E36 of Cammock and Jane.
With Class wins at both the first and second rounds Team Fourteen (Class 3 Marcus Heke and Dillon Grant, Suzuki Swift GTi) and Assassin Racing (Class 4 Mal Chamberlain, Phill Dravitski & David Cox, Mazda 3) are also in the box seat heading into the final round.
Proving the value of consistency both teams did exceptionally well last Saturday.
Heke and Grant completed 113 laps (just one less than the winning Honda Integra of B & D Motorsport’s Murray Brook and Simon Duffy) to finish second overall in the 3 Hour standings, and 210 laps (5 MORE than the Brook/Duffy Honda this time, and 10 more than the second in class SsangYong Actyon Ute of Adam Worsnop, Brett Harris and Tom Vanderloos) to end up a giant-killing fourth overall in the full 6 Hr race standings.
The Team Assassin Racing trio of Chamberlain, Dravitski and Cox also completed a ‘winning double’ in their class by beating both ‘The Old Guys’ (Alastair Dunbar, Dave Houghton & John Brook, SsangYong Actyon Ute) and Team Hooncorp 3 (Zefram Frost, Nathan Howe & Richad Gladden, Nissan Pulsar) to the finish line in both the 3 hr and full 6 Hr race as well.
As such both Team Fourteen and Team Assassin Racing take Class points leads of a significant 70 points into the final round. Even in Class 2 Team Trump Support pair Andrew Ayre and Greg Honnor have a 40 point buffer over the second placed SsangYong SuperUte driven at the second series round last weekend by three-generations of the Cooper family, Rick, Deon and Rick Jnr.
In the 3 Hour classification Mag Motorsport, Team Fourteen and Assassin Racing also lead their classes, the only major difference in Class 2 where, because both the Team Trump Support BMW E36 of 6 Hour class leaders Andrew Ayre and Greg Honnor, and runner-up, the SsangYong SuperUte of Team Ghost Dog Racing’s Rick, Deon and Rick Cooper Jnr, elected to only enter the 6 Hour part of the competition, it is the B&D Motorsport Honda Integra of Murray Brook and Simon Duffy which holds a 20-point lead over the Holden Commodore Ute of Team Aussie Spares pair Steve Bennenbroek and Joshua Compston.
Entrants were divided into various classes at each round based on time ‘bands’ – from Pro 1 (cars capable of lapping the 2.8km National Circuit at Hampton Downs between 1;15.00 and 1.17.999 seconds, to Pro 4 (for cars capable of lapping in 1:27.00 to 1:33.00.)
For those keen to catch the action but who couldn’t make it to the track both rounds so far held have been Livestreamed and can be viewed via the NaZCAR Facebook page.
Current COVID-19 Lockdown status-willing the third and final round of this year’s inaugural NaZCAR Pro Series will be held at Pukekohe’s Pukekohe Park Raceway on Saturday September 04 (or an alternative date TBC). For more information on the series go to nazcar.nz/pro-series or check out the NaZCAR page on Facebook.
Overall – 6 Hr
1/ Team Trump Support (Andrew Ayre/Greg Honnor, BMW 3-series) 218 laps
2/ Team Mag Motorsport (Garry Cammock/Michael Jane, BMW 3-series) 218 laps
3/ Team Ghost Dog Racing (Deon Cooper/Rick Cooper/Rick Cooper Jnr, SsangYong ‘Super Ute’) 213 laps
4/ Team Fourteen (Marcus Heke/Dillon Grant, Suzuki Swift GTi) 210 laps
5/ Team B&D Motorsport (Murray Brook & Simon Duffy, Honda Integra) 205 laps
6/ Team Aussie Spares (Steve Bennenbroek & Joshua Compston/Holden Commodore Ute) 202 laps
Overall 3 Hr
1/ Team Mag Motorsport 114 laps
2/ Team Fourteen 113 laps
3/ Team 3 Boys 1 Cup (Victor Green/Chris Read, Toyota Celica) 112 laps
Overall series placings after 2 of 3 rounds for the 6 hr
1/ Team Trump Support (Andrew Ayre/Greg Honnor, BMW E46)
2/ Team Ghost Dog Racing (Deon & Rick Cooper & Rick Cooper Jnr, SsangYong ‘Super-Ute)
3/ Team B&D Motorsport (Murray Brook/Simon Duffy, Honda Integra)
4/ Team Fourteen (Markus Heke/Dillon Grant, Suzuki Swift)
5/ Team Aussie Spares (Steve Bennenbroek/Joshua Compston, Holden Commodore Ute)
6/ Team Assassin Racing (Mal Chamberlain/Phill Dravitski/David Cox, Mazda 3)
Overall series placings after 2 of 3 rounds for the 3 Hr
1/ Team B&D Motorsport (Murray Brook/Simon Duffy, Honda Integra)
2/ Team Aussie Spares (Steve Bennenbroek/Joshua Compston, Holden Commodore Ute)
3/ Team 14 (Markus Heke/Dillon Grant, Suzuki Swift)
4/ Team Pinkham Racing (Daniel & Edward Pinkham, BMW E46)
5/ Team Assassin Racing (Mel Chamberlain/Phil Dravitski/David Cox, Mazda 3)
6/ Team JTune Racing (Jacky Tse/’Racing Ray’ Williams, Honda Civic Type R)