INTENSE RACING RETURNS
One of the stories of the circuit-racing season so far has been the high quality of the racing in several of the national-level categories in the Speedworks Premier Motorsport Championship.
With two rounds down at the time of writing, the Castrol Toyota Racing Series has produced several of its usual breathlessly action-packed races, but alongside that there have been fantastic encounters in the Toyota 86 Championship, the Porter Group V8 Utes, and, as people have come to expect, the Ssangyong Actyon Ute Series.
The key to the Toyota 86 series is that all the drivers race identical cars, and those lucky enough to be at rounds at Pukekohe Park Raceway, Taupo’s Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Christchurch’s Mike Pero Motorsport Park, and Invercargill’s Teretonga Park have seen some great scraps in both wet and dry races. Reid Harker sits at the top of the points race for the Toyota 86 Championship, but he has had it far from his own way.
Changes to the Porter Group V8 Ute series have reaped huge benefits in recent times, and the category’s full reverse-grid second race for each event, combined with a field of well-matched Ford and Holden utes, has produced some seriously good races. The third points-based race has also contributed to the action. Throw in the learning curve that all the drivers are going through with new-specification clutches, and you have the factors that have made the difference. At Taupo, a 10-car nose-to-tail train did battle throughout, and it was the same at Christchurch, and then again at Teretonga for the final race in very wet and challenging conditions, where four drivers — Richard Moore, Paul Manuell, Matt Spratt, and Peter Ward — were literally nose to tail for the entire race.
The series carries on at the New Zealand Grand Prix meeting in February at Manfeild, which will feature the last round of the Castrol TRS singleseaters. The touring car final will be at Hampton Downs over the weekend of 11 - 12 March.