Oz driv­ers tempted to Pukekohe for V8s

The Timaru Herald - - SPORT - Pit­stop Di­ary

The do­mes­tic scene roars back into life this week­end at Pukekohe Park as the BNT V8s head into their sec­ond round.

Nis­san Al­tima driver Nick Ross cur­rently leads the se­ries after fin­ish­ing sec­ond in the open­ing race of the cham­pi­onship in early No­vem­ber be­hind Aus­tralian Jack Smith.

He then led the young Aussie home in the fi­nal two races. Smith’s team­mate, Lance Hughes of Hamil­ton, fin­ished third in what proved to be three ac­tion packed races for fans.

Smith will be the one to watch as the Aus­tralian driver proved to be very quick here last sea­son and has been carv­ing a rep­u­ta­tion in the Dun­lop Su­per2 Se­ries at home, fin­ish­ing tenth over­all.

The three quick V8 Toy­ota Cam­rys didn’t fea­ture much in the first round with both Chelsea Her­bert and Ben­ton Grove suf­fer­ing from al­ter­na­tor is­sues and Scott Tay­lor crash­ing.

The se­ries con­tin­ues to grow and is at­tract­ing more bud­ding Aus­tralian V8 driv­ers’ keen for some sum­mer rac­ing be­fore em­bark­ing on their own do­mes­tic cham­pi­onships.

The cham­pi­onship has just an­nounced that driv­ers will com­pete for the Ja­son Richards Me­mo­rial Tro­phy when the se­ries vis­its the South Is­land in Jan­uary.

Richards was a three-time New Zealand Tour­ing Car Cham­pion and since 2012 the Ja­son Richards Me­mo­rial Tro­phy has been awarded to driv­ers in the New Zealand V8 Cham­pi­onship. Such was the pop­u­lar­ity of the driver amongst his peers there are ac­tu­ally three tro­phies.

A fur­ther tro­phy is awarded at the New Zealand round of the Vir­gin Aus­tralia Su­per­cars Se­ries, while an­other is con­tested at Nel­son’s KartS­port club. McEl­rea in US shootout Queens­land based Kiwi Hunter McEl­rea has this week been at the Homestead-Mi­ami Speed­way in the US tak­ing part in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Cham­pi­onship Pow­ered by Mazda schol­ar­ship shootout.

McEl­rea won the right to con­test the shootout after win­ning the very com­pet­i­tive 2018 Aus­tralia For­mula Ford Cham­pi­onship.

At least a dozen young driv­ers from six dif­fer­ent na­tions are com­pet­ing for a prize pack­age val­ued at over $US200,000 in the 2019 USF2000 sea­son.

The USF2000 is the Amer­i­can vari­a­tion of the For­mula Ford, us­ing a 2.0 litre en­gine and with more aero­dy­namic down­force.

The se­ries is part of the ‘Road to Indy’ three-tier driver de­vel­op­ment pro­gram that is a path­way through to the top Indy­Car Se­ries that Scott Dixon cur­rently com­petes in.

McEl­rea is ex­pected to pur­sue a sin­gle seater ca­reer in the US with a num­ber of op­tions avail­able to him whether he is suc­cess­ful or not in the shootout.

Fel­low Kiwi Cal­lum Hedge, who won the NZ For­mula 1600 ti­tle, elected not to com­pete for the schol­ar­ship as he is fo­cus­ing on the Toy­ota TR86 Cham­pi­onship which has its sec­ond round this week­end, also at Pukekohe Park.

Hedge is ex­pected to head to Aus­tralia in 2019 to com­pete in their na­tional For­mula Ford cham­pi­onship. Ben­jamin Car­rell is the on­line ed­i­tor of talk­mo­tor­sport.co.nz

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