Teams Shrug Off Torrential Rain To Make ‘Real Race’ Of First NaZCAR Pro Series Round
All 26 teams which started motorsport event promoter NaZCAR’s first all-in 3 and 6 hr Pro Series endurance motor race at Hampton Downs on Saturday (Jul 17) battled mightily; against the clock, amongst each other and - perhaps most importantly- against the torrential rain showers which swept across the track from early morning until just before the chequered flag was waved at 5.15pm.
“They were hands-down the worst conditions I’ve ever run a race meeting in, yet everyone who made the start just seemed to knuckle down and get on with the job,” said the man behind the new-look event, successful businessman-turned motor racing event promoter Dr Jacob Simonsen this week.
“I am just so proud of everyone who turned up and helped make the meeting run as smoothly as it did despite the conditions; and that includes each and every driver, crew member, event and track official and our marshals.”
Classes 2 and 4 were where most of the action was throughout the race with only four laps separating the 6 hr Class 2-winning BMW E46 saloon of Team Trump Support pair Andrew Ayre and Greg Honnor (200 laps) from the third-placed BMW E36 coupe of Team Get in Behind (Tony Rutz, Matthew Booth, Garry Denham and Colin Letcher) which completed 196 laps.
Splitting the two BMWs in second place in Class 2, having covered 198 laps over the 6 Hr race distance, meanwhile, was the modified SsangYong Actyon ‘Super Ute’ of Team Ghost Dog Racing’s father/son duo Rick and Deon Cooper.
Amongst the (majority) of teams which signed on for both the 3 hr and 6 hr races (run concurrently) there were also some amazing performances in the inclement weather and track conditions to come out of Class 4. In particular, Team Assassin (Mal Chamberlain/Phill Dravitski/David Cox) not only won their class (by a whopping 14 laps no less over second-placed ‘The Old Guys’ (Alastair Dunbar/Dave Houghton/John Brook) they also ended up in a ‘not-to-be-sniffed-at’ 5th place amongst the teams which had cross-entered both the 3 hr and 6 races.
To put that in perspective the top Class 3 team – Markus Heke and Dillon Grant’s Team Fourteen – were able to lap comfortably quicker (their best time a 1.32.8 cfm with the Assassins’ best of a 1.38.3) yet with their metronomic-like consistency the Assassins were able to cover two more laps.
Class 1 was won, meanwhile by the JTune/ST Hitec Honda Civic Tyre R 4 door of Honda tuning guru Jacky Tse and evergreen fellow Aucklander ‘Racing Ray Williams who completed 200 laps. The Civic was one of only two cars entered in the quickest class, and when the other – the BMW E36 of Team Mag Motorsport’s Garry Cammock and Michael Jane - was retired after completing only 26 laps, Tse and Williams were guaranteed the Class win in both the 3 ad 6 Hr races – as long as they finished!
Entrants were divided into four classes based on time ‘bands’ - from Pro 1 (cars capable of lapping the 2.8km National Circuit at Hampton Downs between 1:15.00 and 1.17.999 seconds, to Pro 4 (for cars capable of lapping in 1:27.00 to 1:33.00).
Race officials then added a 14 second ‘wet’ allowance to those times - after analysing the times set by each car in the wet qualifying session on Saturday morning - before any penalty for a breakout would be considered.
In the interest of driver safety the race was started and run behind the Safety Car for several laps before ‘going green.’ Later on in the 6 Hr the race was also red-flagged and the field called into pit lane to wait around 20 minutes for a particularly vicious rain storm to blow itself out.
Once it had, the race resumed for a final sprint to the flag.
For those keen to check out just how bad the conditions were for most of the race the livestream footage is on the NaZCAR Facebook page.
For more information on the inaugural three-round NaZCAR Pro Series go to nazcar.nz/pro-series or check out the NaZCAR page on Facebook.