Three Hour ASKO battle to resume at Ruapuna

| Photographer Credit: Terry Marshall/Euan Cameron Photography

The ASKO Endurance Series invades Christchurch’s Mike Pero Motorsport Park at Ruapuna this Saturday with the top teams, drivers and cars in NZ Endurance racing ready to battle it out in the annual SIERDC 3 hour endurance race. The ASKO Appliances catch phrase “built to last” will ring true, as proven at the Series Teretonga opener where there were surprises, upsets and disappointments right throughout the field as teams and fans witnessed a race with more drama and thrills than a top level soap opera. Plus with an increased grid for Round Two, teams will need to be on their game to get points on the board for both the prestigious ASKO Series championship and to qualify for the upcoming MSNZ NZ Endurance Championships.

After a rollercoaster race at Teretonga amazingly the top 3 cars all finished on the same lap, however as they all experienced some form of difficulties during the Teretonga race they will all be looking for a cleaner run at Ruapuna and the opportunity to bank valuable Series points. Surprise Teretonga victors Scott O’Donnell & Allan Dippie (Porsche 997 Cup S) will be hunting another strong showing at Ruapuna after taking their first Series wins since 2009 & 2010 respectively and take the initial jump in the Championship. Matt & Dwayne Carter (Falcon V8 Supercar) finished a strong second at Teretonga and have always performed well at the Ruapuna circuit.

Angus McFarlane will be looking for his first Ruapuna finish since 2010 and, teamed up with son George, could almost taste the victory champagne at Teretonga before a heartbreaking puncture on the penultimate lap dropped them from first to third. However some of the other teams will be upping the ante at Ruapuna and with series sponsor Rick Armstrong unavailable for this round, the International Motorsport run Audi R8 LMS Ultra will see Ant Pedersen join Andrew Bagnall teaming the 2014 Ruapuna round and overall ASKO Series winners together again.

Another of the pre-season favourites to suffer agony at Teretonga was the current Mahindra NI Series champions Inky Tulloch & John McIntyre with the beautiful SaReNi Camaro GT3 not looking so beautiful after a heavy crash during Friday testing. With Tulloch & McIntyre reverting to their back up Honda Integra for the race, they still managed an outstanding top 5 and the team has been working tirelessly to ready the GT3 spec Camaro for Ruapuna.

Another team that has been working overtime is the MRX Chevy Cruise V8 that also had a hard impact against the unforgiving Teretonga walls, which also resulted in a short fuel fire. However what looked like a premature series end has turned into a rescue mission for this team and miraculously these guys are now confident of being on the grid at Round Two.

Also on the line at this round is the BJ Lloyd Memorial trophy for 1st V8 home at Ruapuna and one of the favourites to snare this piece of silverware, after a stunning display at Teretonga, will be the Commodore V8ST of Simon McLennan & Richard Moore who were leading the race at Teretonga before broken wheel studs ended their race prematurely.

Other GT class cars to look out for will be Danny Stutterd & Sam Fillmore (Porsche 997 GT3) who had a rare DNF at Teretonga with a broken steering rack and they are joined by local drivers Paul Wright & Phil Mauger as well as Hayden Knighton & Kane Lawson in Porsche 997 GT3’s. However as Teretonga has proven, none of the big field of GT class cars should be discounted from a podium finish.

The “Kiwi built” Class 1 (3501cc+) cars were also involved in their share of drama at Teretonga, however first blood in this class eventually went to the RX7 V8 of Darryl Barrett & Hamish Frew, ahead of the sister car of defending class champions Paul Rickerby & Graeme Rhodes. The sleek twin Turbo Toyota 86 of Craig and Scott McDermid will be back at Ruapuna after suffering terminal engine damage at Teretonga, however the Corvette C6R of Bruce Davidson & Dave Garden, which was the fastest of the Class 1 cars at Teretonga until their engine expired, will miss Ruapuna as they attempt to return for the Series finale at Levels.

A welcome addition to this class for Ruapuna is Dean ‘Wildman’ Perkins who will team up with Perry Scarfe in the second Carter Tyres Motorsport Ford Falcon BA. So yet again the class battle will once again be fought tooth and nail, and with only two cars in this class making the finish line at Teretonga, getting to the chequered flag Ruapuna is hugely important in the championship fight.

The Class 2 (2001-3500cc) winners at Teretonga were Inky Tulloch and John McIntyre in their ‘back-up’ Honda Integra turbo. However as they hope to revert back to the GT class V8 Camaro for Ruapuna, the class battle is likely to be between Shane Helms & Rob Bolland (BMW M3 turbo) and Jim Wallace & Stephen Grellett (Seat Leon Supacopa) who both made solid starts to their Series campaign with podium finishes at Round One. Others joining this class for Round Two will be the second Golden Homes BMW M3 of Pavlos Van Aalst & Dean McGuigan and the return of father & son team of John & Angus Petrie who will no doubt be doing a rain dance in their Subaru WRX.

It was the ever reliable Peugeot 106 of Ken Sinclair & Mike Ham who took a commanding lead in Class 3&4 (0-2000cc) at Teretonga, as pre-series class favourites Mark Meadows & Barry Calder failed to make the Teretonga grid after issues with the new Lotus Exige and the Honda Civic of Barry Moore, Rob Gjaja & Tim Mackersy failed just before half distance when the wheel came adrift of the Honda Civic. Additions to this class for the Ruapuna round include Garry & Logan Morrell’s Honda Integra and a similar Integra for young guns Jayden Dodge and Matt Williams.

As the three round series passes its half way mark after Ruapuna, there is no rest for the teams as they then tackle the tight & twisty Levels Raceway circuit in Timaru on 17th October for the Series Grand Finale where the overall series champion will be awarded the ‘South Canterbury Toyota Cup’ as ASKO Endurance Series winners. Thanks to Series sponsor ASKO Appliances as well as Mobil 1, Armstrong Prestige, Carters Tyre Service, Hagley windows & doors and Pacific Invoice Finance, the Series will again have a prizemoney pool of over $30,000- that will be paid out for 2015, as well as major spot prizes up for grabs to a competitors in either the One Hour or Three Hour Series.

Some entries are still available for the Ruapuna round and for more information, or to be added to the South Island Endurance Racing Drivers Club’s e-mailing list, please contact Chris Dunn via e-mail at sierdc@xtra.co.nz Club information and live updates on race day can be found on the clubs facebook page www.facebook.com/sierdcnz, and for more information on the series sponsor ASKO, please visit www.asko.co.nz. The Ruapuna action starts from 10.30am Saturday and gate entry is only $15-00.

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