The Prowear NZ Superlap Series season kicked off at Hampton Downs Raceway with the largest field it’s ever seen. It was great to see so many of last season’s drivers returning and a lot of new faces welcomed into the fold.
Track conditions were great for the weekend, but the summer heat posed a few challenges for keeping running temperatures within optimal range (Scott Kreyl was seen running with bags of ice a few times, while Jake Ingledew appeared to be looking for a cooling setting on his pink hairdryer to get his car back on track).
When it came down to the final shootout on Sunday afternoon the top cars were giving it everything they had and almost all of them shaved time off to record their best lap of the weekend. It was an absolute pleasure to walk down the grid lineup and see three cars who have represented New Zealand multiple times at Ian Baker’s Yokohama World Time Attack Challenge at Sydney Motorsport Park, in Australia.
Pro Open had Andy Duffin’s 3 Rotor Racing Mazda RX-7 chasing down Garth Walden piloting Scott Kreyl’s Team RevolutioNZ Mitsubishi Evolution all weekend. Both cars were running Yokohama Advan A050 semi-slick tyres, to comply with the changes to tyre regulations in the series, but the times certainly did not suffer from a lack of full slicks.
Garth took the win with a new Hampton Downs National Circuit superlap record of 1:04.487 while Andy was on his tail with 1:05.797.
Hans Ruiterman’s circuit racer S14 Silvia clocked a swift 1:07.487 for the third spot. Jason Shortt’s Shortty Racing Team Subaru Impreza dropped seconds all day Sunday but not quite enough to match their previous PB, however, they were happy to take home a 1:13.536 and a working car – word is they will be running a fresh livery in the new year so keep an eye out for that.
Greg Hirst battled mechanical issues in his MR2 but managed to drop a second off his times from last year for a 1:18.840. Newcomer to the series, David Brew, had done some handling modifications to his drift 200SX GTR to try his hand at grip racing and put down a 1:19.599.
Glenn Hodges’ unique Nissan March build made its debut with a 1:20.454 before an incident on the track on Saturday afternoon, we all wish Glenn a speedy recovery and look forward to what he has up his sleeve next.Rounding out the Pro Open field, Kerri Mareeba put down her clipboard for long enough to sneak in a cheeky lap in the borrowed Shotty Racing Team Impreza, at a leisurely 1:31.525.
Pro Street All Wheel Drive was the battle of the GTRs, with Iain Clegg’s R35 and Andy Brooking’s R32 neck and neck for most of the weekend. Andy headed home on Sunday after putting down a 1:10.623 and feeling like he couldn’t get any more out of the car without some adjustments, and this left the door wide open for Iain to pull out all the stops and keep pushing until he could not only take the class win, but also drop down to single figures and a new PB of 1:09.910.
Kat Benson’s Burgerfuel Evolution was super consistent over the weekend, chipping away at the times to also see a PB for her into the twelves at 1:12.936.
Morris Mustchin stayed up till the wee hours of the morning to make it to the track, fitting a replacement gearbox and just couldn’t get the car down to his target lap times so had to make do with a 1:21.255.
Sahil Bhopal’s Mazda MPS managed to complete the most flying laps of anyone over the weekend and finished with a best of 1:22.233.
Pro Street 2 Wheel Drive was taken out with a scorching 1:14.707 from Mark Collier’s little Japanese Classics series MX5. Second place went to Brian Matchett in his HSV GTS who dropped a solid four seconds off his best time last season to get down to 1:16.067.
Third and Fourth went to the MacMorris Racing team, Jason Morris on 1:18.221 very closely followed by Khan Mackesy with 1:18.748. Brian Schofield made the long drive up from Wellington towing his Holden Commodore for his superlap debut, setting a respectable 1:20.511 before running into fueling issues.
David van der Haas struggled with mechanical gremlins but still managed to get a couple of sessions in the Toyota Carina for a 1:24.962. Bradley Haines made the step up to Pro Street this season after taking out the third spot in Street RWD last season. His S14 now sports a number of aero and safety improvements, and a new PB of 1:27.325. Barry Manon’s absence was certainly felt, but we look forward to seeing him at a few rounds this season to throw a spanner amongst the 2WD results.
Street All Wheel Drive was a trifecta of beautifully presented Mitsubishi Evolutions. The win went to Simon Turner with a 1:14.197, second to Luke Wellacott on 1:16.654, after Leon Scott took the wheel for a few testing laps on Saturday to help get the car set up, and third to Luke Parker with 1:16.957. Ali Park was doing his first superlap round and logged a 1:19.444 while Michael Nealis’ Subaru Legacy wagon knocked off a second from last season to finish with 1:23.433.
Street 2 Wheel Drive was the largest field for us this weekend, with 13 entries. Darren Mc Donald was seeing great results from the new aero on his Commodore dropping him down into the fifteens for 1:15.744 and the class win. Matt Gray was only around for Saturday but that was enough for him to easily hold down second on 1:16.077 in the Supra.
Johnny Lam’s Silvia steadily improved over the weekend to end on 1:18.165.
Team Engineered to Feel had Joe Ardagh’s Civic down to 1:20.534 for fourth place, while his teammate and wife, Peach, pushed her Civic around in 1:21.692 for sixth place (she might have even gotten closer to catching him if she hadn’t left the transponders in the toolbox on Sunday morning!).
Fifth went to Texas Delaney in his MX5 with 1:21.607. Jakke Haag surprised people with his unusual choice of superlap vehicle, a Renault Clio and set a time of 1:22.510. Aaron Krinkel’s MPS recorded 1:23.311, while Jake Ingledew’s new turbo setup in the MX5 smashed 18 seconds off his previous PB for 1:27.386. Aaron Soole’s Civic ran a 1:29.310, followed by Jamie Frew’s RX7 on 1:32 flat. Newcomer Jordan Williams got down to 1:34.015 just ahead of Doneel Moran who had mechanical issues with his WRX and returned to the track with a last minute replacement Civic from his sponsors, Enhanced Motors, to throw it around a bit for a 1:34.161.
Huge thanks to HRC for hosting the event, and all of the officials and volunteers who make these days run. Round 2 takes us to Bruce Mclaren Motorsport Park in Taupo, on January 7–8, 2017 — we hope you all have a great summer break and we’ll see you back on track in the New Year.
Keep your eyes peeled for a MASSIVE photo gallery tomorrow!
Words by Kerri Mareeba, Photos Maria Panova