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Lap Record Tumbles At Teretonga Park


Lap Record Tumbles At Teretonga Park

When qualifying commenced at Teretonga Park in wet conditions this morning few would have envisaged any lap records being broken later in the day. However when the circuit dried spectators at the event, presented by Fulton Hogan, saw one particular record tumble three times in one afternoon.

The Kumho Sport Saloon lap record had stood since January 2005 when Neville Stowell had set a lap of 1 minute 04.168 seconds. However in today's opening race for the class Ashburton driver Kerry Bartlett lowered the record as he sped from the back of the grid to finish second to Timaru's Mike Small. Bartlett left the new mark at 1.03.94 but that only stood for around 90 minutes until he trimmed it to 1 minute 03.89 when winning the second race from former motorcycle racer John Hepburn. Then in the final race for the class he dropped it again as he came from the back of the grid to win and leave the record at 1 minute 03.61.

The Pre 65 Saloons provided great entertainment with one of the their best grids at Teretonga for several seasons. Maurie Bone of Christchurch made best use of the wet conditions in qualifying to put his nimble Anglia on pole. However he was swamped by the bigger cars once racing began on a dry track. The first race became a battle between Jason Galbraith of Christchurch in his Chrysler Plymouth, local driver Wayne Tuffley in his Mustang and another Cantabrian Wayne Patrick in a Ford Falcon. Galbraith spun at the Elbow on the third to last lap leaving Tuffley the winner from Patrick. The second race featured a great dice for the lead between Dunedin's Steve Ross and Tuffley in their Mustangs. Ross beat Tuffley by .66 of a second with Galbraith third. The third race was a handicap event in which Roy MacDonald of Dunedin brought his Ford Falcon through to win from Cliff Brunning of Nelson in a Chevrolet Nova and Galbraith.

The opening Super 6 Saloon race was a good one with polesitter Brendon Lee of Christchurch and Blair Sutherland of Dunedin having a great dice until contact was made. Lee lost several positions while Sutherland received a drive through penalty handing the win to Peter Hughes while Lee climbed back to second. Sutherland bounced back to win the second race comfortably from Wayne Christie making it two wins to the Holden's. Lee and Sutherland had another huge battle in the third race which Lee won to give Ford a win for the day. Russell Keeler emerged the best of the Southlanders with a 4th, 10th and 5th placing.

Hayden Knighton won all three Pro 7 races with Jeremy Grice and Mark Eliott the most prominent competitors behind him.

There was much interest in the debut of thirteen - year - old Damon Leitch in the single seater races. While the field comprised of various types of cars, most of them faster and more advanced than the teenager's Van Diemen RF87 he made an impressive debut. Fresh from winning a kart enduro on Saturday he lowered his lap times throughout the day and managed to take evasive action to avoid another car during the day's action. Leitch, a year 9 student at James Hargest College, found the Van Diemen "a lot faster" than his karting machinery and said the track "was a lot more slippery". His father, Barry Leitch, won all the racing car events in his more powerful Reynard from Canadian Evan Williams and local Steve Heffernan. Leitch senior was the only driver to break the 1 minute mark around the 2.6 kilometre circuit on his final lap of the day. Asked about his son's debut he said, "I'm really pleased with the way he drove."

Chris Dunn of Timaru won both Noel McIntyre Drainage Clubmans Group A races in his Ford Focus. Dunn led home Dunedin driver Shaun Blondell on both occasions in a Mitsubishi EVO5 with Stephen Grellet of Dunedin in a BMW M3 and Chris Henderson in a Mitsubishi EVO sharing the third placings. Unfortunately Invercargill driver Julian Prior - Stockwin's car hit the tyre wall in one of these races and he was taken to hospital to be checked.

Amanda Tulloch won both Noel McIntyre Drainage Clubmans Group B races from Gareth Irwin with Ant Ralston and Jeremy Dawson filling the third placings.

The class races went to Bradley Dawson (1301 - 1600cc), Dave McLean (1601 - 2500cc) and Shaun Blondell (2501cc & over).

The next meeting at Teretonga Park is the annual Leitch Motorsport / Southland Times Classic SpeedFest that takes place over the weekend of 17/18 February. This will be the first meeting of a very special year as the circuit celebrates 50 years of motor racing.


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