There is no better way to kick off a fresh new year than a weekend of racing in the sunshine, so that’s exactly what we did for round 2 of the Prowear NZ Superlap Series at Bruce Mclaren Motorsport Park in Taupo.
The Pro Open field was dominated by Tony Satherley in the 666 Evo; he went out first thing Saturday and set the best time of the weekend, leaving everyone else to try and play catch-up. Tony’s 1:31.080 wasn’t enough to rattle the lap record set by Garth Walden in the same car back in 2017 (a blistering 1:28.487).
Hans Ruiterman’s Silvia was only seven-tenths behind the 666 Evo, which made for some great entertainment on track as they followed each other out.
Murray Bell’s Honda-powered FD RX-7 came to grief at a GTRNZ meet prior to Christmas, so Murray took the only sensible option – buying a replacement racecar and having his first drive of it at the track. The ex-V8 TL Ford Falcon is a completely different animal to what we usually see Murray driving, but you couldn’t wipe the smile off his face, his best of 1:41.313 was a very respectable effort too.
Dave Brew couldn’t make round 1, so Taupo was our first time seeing him in action this season – making huge improvements to his times, right up until both his diff and gearbox gave up the ghost, putting him on the trailer with a time of 1:41.792 (enough for 3rd in the 2WD Pro Open class).
Barend Bootha’s Garage Racers MX-5 strolled home with a 1:44.654, while Greg Hirst spent most of the weekend underneath his MR2 instead of in the driver’s seat. Suspension and brakes issues meant that Greg’s time of 1:45.768 was far from what we’ve seen out of this car in the past. Stuart Hill’s Honda Civic pulled a 1:48.727 with some fuel pump problems, but was sounding and looking like a little beast on the track. Mark Greaney set a 1:49.803 in his BMW 328, and we hear he’s got some big plans for the car this season which should see times drop.
ProStreet was taken out very convincingly by Brady Wild in his stunning black-on-black Subaru WRX. It was Brady’s first time at the Taupo track and his 1:35.533 puts him within reach of Iain Clegg’s April 2017 ProStreet lap record of 1:34.472 with the ST Hitec R35 GTR.
Next up was Kat Benson with the Burgerfuel Evo, who repeated her bad luck from round 1 with another diff failure. Kat and her team aren’t the type to give up easy, so overnight they were able to diagnose the issue and replace the diff, getting her back out on the track on Sunday to lay down a 1:38.230.
Shane Blucher was pushing hard with his Subaru, even staying right till the end of the weekend to have an attempt at the shootout, but it wasn’t meant to be and Shane had to make do with a 1:41.713 set on Sunday morning before the heat set in.
Eric Yamashita’s ‘phoenix’ R33 GT-R arose from the ashes of last season at round 1 for some quiet laps, and this weekend Eric was ready to push harder, recording a 1:42.685 before his turbo decided it was time to cut the weekend short.
The fastest of the 2WD ProStreet entrants, Brian Matchett’s black beauty Commodore wasn’t immune to mechanical gremlins, but he was able to acquire and fit a new radiator overnight to keep him in the game with a 1:46.616.
Jason Morris in the #333 MacMorris Racing MPS was only a tenth behind with 1:46.733.
2k Cup regular, Rachel Norris, made her Superlap debut with a 1:52.251 in the Peugeot 206 that will eventually be sacrificed for re-powering her usual steed. Another of the MacMorris team, Ben Bishop, broke the 2-minute marker to set a best of 1:57.046. Hot on Ben’s heels was Sean Thompson in the Ford Focus coming home in 1:57.270. Sean’s teammate, Dmitrey Carruthers, chipped away at his times and making good improvements over the weekend to settle with a 2:00.211 with his VW Golf. It’s great to see such a variety of cars entering Superlap this season.
The Street classes are always good for a battle and this round was no exception to that. Luke Parker in his PS Automotive Evo was the winner on the day, taking out not only Street 4WD but also re-setting the Taupo Street class lap record (previously held by Matt Gray) with a 1:38.864. Andy Brooking was giving Luke a good chase to lay down a 1:39.516 at what will be the last round for his R32 GTR before it’s shipped off for some mid-season surgery.
Rounding out the Street top 3 was Matt Gray’s current Street King titleholder Supra on 1:40.536.
Jeremy Smith continues to impress with his WRX STi hatch, finishing up with a 1:41.727. Darren McDonald gave spectators a treat with his usual mix of speed and slide for a 1:45.020.
Josh TeBrake’s Mark3 Supra also struggled to find grip or brakes, but still set a 1:46.098, right behind him waving the rotary flag was Darryl Curran’s FD RX-7 on 1:46.738.
Adam Ostermeyer had a nightmare of a round, wrecking both gearbox and engine in the space of 3 days, but he did get to take home a new PB of 1:47.401 (along with a very broken car).
Avichal Kumar’s Evo X was on song all weekend for a 1:49.335, and Simon Ransfield had his mint example of an early Evo out on track for a 1:50.572. Michael Nealis’ Swagon set 1:51.514 but didn’t wanna play after the first Sunday session.
Jiwon Park’s clean 350z did a best of 1:53.230, while Brian Schofield’s tow car daily Audi hauled around the track in 1:54.658.
A few of the stand-out moments from the weekend would have to be:
Darren McDonald running out of tyre before the last session, only to have fellow Commodore driver, Brian Matchett, offer him a spare set of wheels and tyres. Watching the two cars, driven so differently on track but with such close times, knowing that Darren was there to enjoy it due to the kindness of a fellow driver, it was awesome.
Adam Ostermeyer’s unfortunate weekend did one good thing, and that was to highlight the generosity of the Superlap family. After blowing the gearbox in Friday’s practice, Adam located a replacement in Auckland – fellow Superlap regular Elliot Carleton making the long journey down to drop the gearbox to the track that night. Meanwhile long time Superlapper, Morris Mustchin, who had dropped in just to say Hi ended up spending Friday afternoon dropping the broken gearbox along with Barend Bootha, then unexpectedly staying the night, and fitting up the new gearbox trackside in the morning all in time for Adam to not even miss a single session.
Multiple officials mentioning, again, how impressed they are with the Superlap drivers and their ability to follow instructions and be respectful and kind to the volunteers and officials. Without all those people giving of their time, there would be no motorsport for us to all enjoy.
Taupo is a great holiday destination, so many of the drivers make the most of the tourist hot spots and adventures that the area has to offer – but it’s not all smiles all the time, this round was tough on gear, and has sent several of the drivers back to their workshops to repair damage before the next round. Catch them at Round 3, Manfeild: Circuit Chris Amon, alongside the 4&Rotary Jamboree.