With Cyclone Pam heading towards our shores the Roycroft Trophy had the likelihood of being anything but a straightforward event. However, thankfully the rain held off, and we were in for a great weekend of racing.
Organized by the Waitemata Branch of the Vintage Car Club of New Zealand, the Historic Racing and Sports Car Club and the Classic Motorcycle Racing Register of New Zealand, and held over the weekend of March 14 and 15 at Hampton Downs, this year’s event was cast with a French flavour. The classes invited to race were the Historic Formula Junior, Pre-1960 Sports Cars, Pre-1945 Sports Cars, Pre-1960 Saloons, and demonstration laps of Pre-1963 motorcycles.
Lunchtime activity saw parade laps of the various vintage cars and historics, including the SCAR (Société de Construction Automobiles de Reims) 1912, which was one of only six built, this example being imported to New Zealand new in 1913 by the owner of Auckland’s Grand Hotel, Henry Bray. Also in the parade and on display was a 1915 Renault charabanc. Other lunchtime entertainment was provided by the Lindsay Meech Band, an exquisite brass band playing some fine tunes.
On Saturday night there was a French wine and food evening. Those attending were treated by hearing guest speakers, including Hugh Anderson, a four times motorcycle world champion who also won the Isle of Man TT four times, Ken Mcintosh, known worldwide for his tuning abilities and Norton expertise, and 90-year-old Les Harris who, incredibly, still races his BSA Bantam.
Saturday’s racing included the Waitemata Cup for Pre-1960 machines. This was won by David Owen in the 1953 Jaguar C-type replica, with second place going to Tim Hill in his 1951 Morgan Plus 4, while third place went to Steve Sharp in his 1955 Buckler 90. However, for the ‘Spirit of the Event’ Hill was named as the winner since Owen had already won the Barrie Girdler Trophy for the Fastest South Island vehicle. Also on the Saturday was the delautour Memorial race for Pre 1945ers, which saw Fred Courtney in the 1950 Northland Special take the title, followed by Steve Payne in a 1960 Morgan 4/4 in second, with Peter Benbrook’s 1950 Buckler MKV in third place.
The weekend was rounded off on Sunday with the 10-lap feature race for the Roycroft Trophy – this being Ron Roycroft’s Ryall Cup, donated to the Waitemata branch of VCCNZ by Terry and Deanne Roycroft). This saw a field of 14 cars from the various classes all vying for the Trophy, including Terry Roycroft, who drove his father’s famous Type 35 Bugatti. The eventual winner was David Owen, followed by Tim Hill, with Steve Sharp rounding off the top three, while Terry Roycroft put in a sterling effort to finish the race in fourth place.
Defending Targa New Zealand winners, Glenn Inkster and Spencer Winn (Mitsubishi Evo VIII), got their 2015 season off to a winning start with overall and class victory in the one-day Metalman Targa Sprint event on March 8.
Based at Ardmore Airport, and with two short stages repeated three times each for a total distance of just over 60km, the event attracted a 40-strong mix of regular Targa specialists, along with interested first-timers like recently crowned NZV8 Touring Car champion Kevin Williams, who leased a Mitsubishi Evo VI.
Inkster and Winn took the overall event honours by 26 seconds from fellow Allcomers 4WD class fast-man Leigh Hopper and his co-driver Simon Kirkpatrick (Subaru Impreza WRX), but the winning pair certainly didn’t have it all their own way.
The margin was just one second in two of the stages, and Hopper and Kirkpatrick turned the tables on Inkster and Winn to win the second stage by three seconds. In the other stages the margins remained in the single figures, though as we’ve said, Inkster and Winn retained the advantage.
Third overall and winner of the Modern 2WD class was Clark ‘Metalman’ Proctor, in the highly-modified turbocharged Nissan V6-powered Ford Escort MKI, now rebuilt after its crash and gearbox issues in last year’s Targa South Island event.
“We’ve had a few wee issues, as you’d expect when you are in a bit of a hurry to put something back together and just make the start line, but in saying that I am really pleased with how it’s going,” Proctor told Nzclassiccar. “The roads are good too, they’re the sort that really suit the car, it feels completely at home in the tight, twisty bumpy stuff, it just soaks it up.”
Proctor spent the best part of the day fighting a pitched battle for the Modern 2WD class lead with Taranaki ace Ross Graham’s Holden Torana A9X V8. Graham (who used different members of his team as co-drivers during the day) claimed class wins in three of the stages, including the first by five seconds over Proctor and the third — again over Proctor — by just one second.
As he settled into his rebuilt car Proctor got quicker and quicker, while at the same time the late-model BMW M3 V8s of Simon Clark and co-driver Donald Howard, and Aaron Robinson and George Randle (sharing the car owned and usually driven by Tim James), started putting pressure on Graham.
The result was that Graham held on for second in class and sixth overall, with the BMWS of Clark and Howard and Robinson and Randle third and fourth respectively in class, and an impressive eighth and ninth respectively overall.
Early on in the day there was also a battle for class honours in Classic 2WD. But when the Datsun 240Z of early pace-setters Andy Mygind and Anthony Baker was slowed by a misfire then fuel starvation, father-and-son Porsche 911 S pair Eddie and Tom Grooten eased away to lead home the classic contingent from Ken Northin and his co-driver in Northin’s Ford Escort RS 2000 replica.
Finally, absolutely buzzing after his very first taste of tarmac road rallying, was V8 touring car ace and newly-crowned champion Kevin Williams, who decided to do the event when he found out it was going past his front gate. Despite a minor offroad excursion, Williams ended up a respectable seventh in the Allcomers 4WD class, and says that now he has a taste for tarmac rallying.