Hot Carters Tyres SI Endurance Series action anticipated for Levels
The Carters Tyres One Hour Race Series hits Timaru’s Levels Raceway this Saturday with a bumper field of cars and the makings of another terrific days racing as teams chase the last available points in both overall and class standings. Just like both previous rounds this season, fans can be assured of some outstanding race action especially on the tight and technical Levels circuit, where a new Carters Tyres One Hour Race Series champion will be crowned. However, as the old saying goes; to finish first, first you must finish, and there will be plenty of cars of all shapes & sizes battling for both the overall and class placing’s as well as a lucrative top 20 series finish to qualify for the upcoming NZ One Hour Endurance Championships at Ruapuna in March 2017.
Series fast man Hugh Gardiner (Porsche 997 GT3) has been challenged early in both races by the fire-breathing Toyota AE86 V8 of Chris Henderson, however Gardiner has won two from two so far and lowered the SIERDC 1hr lap record at Teretonga in the process. This leaves him with a slight points lead, however with the quick fire series and tight points structure there are still another 13 cars than can mathematically still claim the overall series glory. As most endurance competitors know you only need to take your eye off the ball for a split second and your race can change dramatically. So with Henderson currently second overall it will likely be a winner takes all race for the final podium position with series regulars Scott O’Donnell/Allan Dippie (Porsche 997 Cup S) and Series rookie Jarrod Owens (Porsche 997 GT3) separated by just one point in the overall standings and tied for points in the glitzy GT class. Others who could spoil the party at Levels include Porsche 991 Cup Cars for Russell McKenzie and Danny Whiting or the thundering Falcon V8 Supertourer of Grant Williams/Brent Buist that recovered from a DNF at Round One to take a spledid third outright at Ruapuna.
The battles will be just as fierce right through the field and as well as second overall, Henderson holds a relatively comfortable lead in Class 1 (3501cc+). Gearbox issues at Ruapuna dropped the Chris Small/Johnny Small (Nissan GT-R) back to third in class after a stunning debut at Teretonga, allowing Lee Rhodes (Mazda RX7 T) to sneak past to sit second heading into the Series final. Also look out for the Corvette C6R of Bruce Davidson who took a second in class at Ruapuna and will hope to go one better at Levels, however his qualifying crash at Teretonga has ruined his chances of class victory. Also don’t discount the super reliable NZ 6 spec Commodore of husband & wife team Derek & Vicki Curzon currently in fifth place in class but could finish on the podium should other cars falter. Other to look out for include Jason Hewitson (Mazda RX7 V8), Ben Coffin (Mazda RX7 T) and the sole Porsche 996 GT3 of Johnny Wilson, after the similar car of Noel Simons hit the tyre wall at Ruapuna eliminating the car from the Series finale.
Class 2 (2001cc -3500cc) has seen an unusual amount of attrition for 2016 with a high number of DNF’s. Andrew Wright (BMW E36 M3) currently has the biggest lead of any of the classes in both the 1hr and 3hr Series with a 22 point lead over Matt O’Donnell/Keiran Grace (BMW Mini Challenge). Jim Kelly (Nissan 280Z) has snuck through to sit third in class, proving that finishing races and collecting points is the key to Endurance racing success. But again with 95 points on offer for this class, anything can happen. Those looking for redemption at Levels will include Teretonga class 2 runner up James Mitchell (Honda Integra 2.4) and the immaculate Subaru WRX of Nick Archibald/Wayne Leach who will both be trying to clamber back up the rankings after DNF’s at Ruapuna. This class that sees an amazing mix of cars from a hoard of various BMW touring cars & BMW Mini’s to Rotary powered Mazda Rx7’s and some turbocharged monsters.
Class 3&4 (0-2000cc) is another winner takes all class with Jeremy Dawson (Starlet) holding a slender lead over the impressive Lotus Exige of Mark Meadows. Series rookie Dan Yeoman (Corolla DX) has driven consistently up to third in his Series debut, just ahead of Ian Wooster (Mazda MX5). However, looking to spoil the party with be class speedster Stu Black (Starlet) and also Daniel Cropp (Civic), who missed round two with business commitments after leading the class after Round One. But with a DNF each to date, they are realistically out of overall class contention.
Not only are teams racing for overall and class positions and silverware, but also for a share of the over $30,000 purse that will be paid out at Levels. Thanks to series sponsors Carters Tyre Service and Allied 24/7/fuel the series will again have the richest prize money pool per round in NZ Motorsport and all prizemoney is paid out based on class points across both the 3 Hour and 1 Hour Series, ensuring that it is spread right through the field.
There are also various awards and spot prizes including an original watercolour painting by High Country artist Norman Sinclair valued at approx. $10,000-00; a set of Michelin tyres and several thousand dollars’ worth of prizes from ENDLESS Advance braking technologies that will all be given away as spot prizes to competitors in the series
So with 95 championship and class points on offer for the Levels finale, every single class plus the overall series spoils are still up for grabs. However one thing is guaranteed and that is with a near capacity grid and wildly varied field of cars on the tight Timaru circuit anything can happen. At the end of race day Saturday there will most certainly be a new Carters Tyres One Hour Race Series Champion crowned, the question is who will it be?
Series competitor Johnny Wilson (Porsche 996 GT3) during the 1 hour race at Ruapuna 2016.
Photo: Euan Cameron.
For more information on the South Island Endurance Series, entries, or to be added to the South Island Endurance Racing Drivers Club’s e-mailing list, please contact Chris Dunn via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org ph 021-107-9293
Club information can also be found on facebook at www.facebook.com/sierdcnz, for more information on the series sponsor Carters Tyres, please visit www.carterstyres.co.nz
Qualifying starts at 9am Saturday & just $15-00 at the gate.