The inaugural SsangYong Racing Series got off to a flying start last weekend at the first round of the V8 SuperTourers Endurance Series at Taupo Motorsport Park.
The weekend’s top three points scorers were Gene Rollinson on 451 points, taking out the 1st round honours and setting a new lap record 2.3.01 for the SsangYong Actyon Ute Racing category. Daniel Conner in his Elf Lubricants sponsored ute finished the weekend in second place with 349 points ahead of Cory Holmes in the Takanini SsangYong ute on 321 points.
Taupo Local boy Faine Kahia, in his Tuwharetoa sponsored ute, recovered well from a poor qualifier to finish Race One in 6th position. However in the top ten reverse race drove aggressively through to take the lead from very experienced racer Marty Irvine driving his Racer Products sponsored Ute.
A unique aspect of the series was the strong female contingent in the field including 15 year old competitive NZ Karter Chelsea Herbert, Australian Woman’s Karting Champion Alexandra Whitley, Competitive NZ Driver Christine Orr, and novice driver Jessica Antonievic. They all drove competitively with Christine Orr, ex NZV8 and TRS series driver, emerging the fastest of the female drivers, ahead of the forceful Australian who copped a 40 second "drive through" penalty for forcing another competitor off line. 15 year old Chelsea Herbert proved that she is also going to be a serious force to be reckoned with at the next round at the end of the month.
The 25 car field was warmly welcomed by race fans and fellow competitors, as was the action on the track which produced some very close racing at the front of the field. All 25 utes finished both races although there was a number of utes sporting 'battle scars' at day's end. Fortunately, thanks to SsangYong NZ, the spare parts for these Actyon Race utes are being provided at cost, making it very affordable for the teams to repair any panel damage.
Unfortunately Race 3 on Sunday had to be cancelled due to force majeure – caused by a freakish easterly wind gusting up to 100kms down the pit straight which turned the large start line SsangYong banner, strung across the track, to act like an out of control sail and create havoc in the process. The sheer force of the wind acting on the billowing banner caused the heavy steel pillar anchored to the pit lane concrete wall to become separated and hang precariously over the safety catch fence. Emergency workers were forced to cut down the 3 tonne "Starting Lights" steel standard in order to gain control of the out of control banner.
SsangYong Chairman Rick Cooper was overjoyed with the positive feedback from SRS Drivers and their teams. “I can hardly wait until the next race - I am so excited. Well done to all of the SRS drivers and my congratulations to them all.”
An hours coverage of Round 1 of the SsangYong Racing Series will be played on TV3’s CRC Speedshow on Sunday 19th October. Round 2 of the 7 round series will be at Hampton Downs 1-2 November 2014.
For those interested in finding out more about the SsangYong Racing Series, contact Series Coordinator Mark Petch on 021 721 666 or email firstname.lastname@example.org