ASKO Series invades Ruapuna this weekend
ASKO Series invades Ruapuna this weekend.
The ASKO Endurance Series invades Christchurch’s Powerbuilt Ruapuna this Saturday with the top teams, drivers and cars in NZ Endurance racing ready to battle it out in the annual Southern 300 3 hour endurance race. The ASKO Appliances catch phrase “built to last” will ring true, as proven at the series Teretonga opener where there were surprises and disappointments throughout the field as teams worked hard to get points on the board at round one of the four round series.
Teretonga victors Simon Ellingham/John McIntyre (Porsche 997 GT3) are joined at Ruapuna by endurance specialist Jono Lester as they hunt another race win and look to extend their narrow series lead. 2012 Champions Paul Kelly/Daniel Gaunt (997 GT3) are sure to be better prepared at Ruapuna with Gaunt missing all the testing & practice at Teretonga as he made his way to the southern circuit, whilst the Matt Carter/Dwayne Carter (Falcon V8 Supercar) will be the lone GT class car looking to spoil the Porsche parade as Craig Innes/Sam MacNeill (Ferrari 458) will not make the Ruapuna round. In the debut of their new 997 GT3 Type R, Angus McFarlane/Michael Bushell led the Teretonga race for a long period mid race, before an off track excursion into a gravel trap ruined their race. However, now with some miles under their belts in this new car and a return to their home circuit, this pairing could easily surprise at Ruapuna. The similar 997 Cup S car of Allan Dippie/Scott O’Donnell will also be looking for a better run at Round two, as will the International Motorsport prepped cars of Rick Armstrong and Andrew Bagnall that both suffered damage during the Teretonga race resulting in a costly DNF for Bagnall and in such a closely fought championship, possibly already costing him his series chances. The International Motorsport Team have a change of drivers for Ruapuna with Matt Hamilton & Ant Pedersen joining Armstrong & Bagnall respectively, with Pedersen fresh from a win in the V8 SuperTourer ‘enduro’ last weekend.
The new Corvette C6R of Bruce Davidson/Dave Garden was the fastest of the Class 1 (3501cc+) cars at Teretonga, but was another who spent several laps in the kitty litter after an on track altercation and eventually finished 3rd in class. They showed great pace on debut with their new car and expect them again to be mixing it with the faster GT class cars and pushing hard towards the pointy end of the field. Teretonga Class 1 winners Graeme Rhodes/Paul Rickerby (RX7 V8) will no doubt be fast on their home track and look for Dave Dovey/Andrew Bowler/Shane Wenzlick (BA Falcon) to again put on a great showing in their first season in the Series. Class 1 will again be hard fought and with every car in this class making the finish line at Teretonga, getting to the chequered flag Ruapuna is equally as important.
Class 2 (2001-3500cc) Teretonga winners Sam Fillmore/Aaron Harris (Seat Leon Supacopa) made a solid start to their Series campaign in a class that suffered from more attrition than normally expected. Fillmore/Harris led home the immaculate BMW M3 of Dean McGuigan who will be back with his regular co-driver Pavlos Van Aalst for Ruapuna. The Toyota AE86 turbo’s of Pat & Ryan Heagney & Craig & Scott McDermid finished third & fourth respectively and will be looking for better pace at Ruapuna, as will the Mitsi Evo 9 of Andrew Simms/Chris West, who surprisingly was the only other finisher in the class at the series opener. With pre-series class favourites & defending class champions Arron Black/Stu Black (BMW E46 WTC) not even making the start line at Teretonga, this has really opened up the class and it will be a great battle as teams try to get points on the board as we approach the half way point of the 4 round series.
Teretonga surprise Class 3&4 (0-2000cc) winners were Arron Black/Stu Black who switched to their back-up Starlet for race day after destroying the engine in their class 2 BMW during Friday testing. This team is unsure if they will run the Starlet again or be back in the BMW for Ruapuna as this goes to print, but currently enjoy leading the class. The Teretonga Class 3&4 podium was filled with series rookies, with the ex Kiwi Team Nurburgring Honda Civic of Paul Coghill/David Hunter leading home Jeff Vincent/Daniel Currie (Civic). This is another class where the more favoured runners struck problems with Steve Parker/Matt Jackson (Honda S2000) retiring early in the race with an engine miss and Craig Russell/Bruin Beasley (Renault Megane) one of the three 3hr cars who didn’t even start the race after problems during Friday testing.
With the Series at its half way mark after Ruapuna, there is no rest for the teams as they then tackle the tight & twisty Levels Raceway circuit in Timaru on 19th October before the Series Grand Finale will be held at the first ever race meeting at the magnificent Highlands Motorsport Park, Cromwell on Saturday 9th November, where the overall series champion will be awarded the ‘South Canterbury Toyota Cup’. Thanks to Series sponsor ASKO Appliances as well as Mobil 1, Paul Kelly Motor Company, Hagley Aluminium & Southern Finance Ltd, the Series will again have a prizemoney pool of $30,000- that will be paid out for 2013, as well as major spot prizes up for grabs to a competitors in either the One Hour or Three Hour Series.
Last minute entries for the Ruapuna round are still available and 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 Club information and live race updates can also be found on facebook at www.facebook.com/sierdc, and for more information on the series sponsor ASKO, please visit www.asko.co.nz. The Ruapuna action starts from 10.30am Saturday and gate entry is only $15-00.