Story by Stuart Owers
Many of the North Island based drivers decided to stay down and tour the country south of Christchurch for a few days before they joined their southern based competitors in Invercargill for the Third Round of our Pirelli Porsche series. The Highland Park race track and museum at Cromwell were popular stopovers on the trip south, along with the occasional vineyard visit.
Teretonga is a fast and challenging track, not only challenging for drivers but also from a co-ordinators perspective. With the pits and grid on the inside of the track but the commentating and admin area on the outside, life gets complicated. With no bridge or subway between the two areas it means waiting patiently for the track crossing to be temporarily opened. Our Club President, Andy Anderson, thought he would come down for a few relaxing days to watch the racing but because of those logistical problems was soon pressed into a whole range of official duties. Huge thanks are due to you for that Andy.
The ongoing drought and hot weather in the deep South meant all the rain tyres could be left in the trailer and full concentration given to setting fast laps. Most of the North Island drivers were lacking recent experience at Teretonga and four drivers were there for the very first time. Paul Kelly is not in that category however and he only took seven laps to record a time nearly a second faster than Christchurch’s Hayden Knighton, with Brian McGovern in third.
Unfortunately Brian completed less than half the session because of a ball joint breakage that had him struggling to keep his car from spearing off the track.
The class E battle was closer with Steff Chambers being relegated to second behind Tony Houston by only 0.4 of a second.
After some generous inter-team assistance for Brian McGovern’s 997 we saw a full grid line up for the first race. There was drama before the lights even went out though, with Paul Kelly rolling forward about a car length before everybody else. When the lights finally went out the rest of the field set off in pursuit of the fast disappearing Kelly 991. With the prospect of time penalty being applied Paul’s team would have been telling him to try and get a big margin over the rest of the field in order to score some reasonable points for the race. Hayden Knighton took up the pursuit in his 997 Cup car with Brian McGovern and Sean Kirkpatrick having a great battle for the next two positions.
Eventually Brian managed to slip past Sean but we were disappointed that he seemed unable to bring his usual attacking style to Hayden and Paul. After the race Brian told us the suspension arm that had been swapped for a new one had changed the handling badly. Each time he got hard on the brakes the car would steer itself to the right, highly disconcerting for him, and as Teretonga only has one right corner, it wasn’t particularly useful either.
Further back Brent Greer won his class and Tony Houston was comfortably in front of class E.
The official results show Paul Kelly relegated back to third place with a 10 second time penalty, leaving Hayden Knighton in 1st, followed Brian McGovern in second place. Sean Kirkpatrick was fourth.
This time everybody got away cleanly and without any dramas. Paul Kelly established a comfortable cushion out in front and left Brian McGovern challenging Hayden Knighton for second place honours. Brian hadn’t been able to sort out his handling woes between races so was still unable to be aggressive while braking.
Our attention was soon drawn to the class E race. Steff Chambers 944 was in front of Tony Houston’s 944 and seemed to be holding him off confidently. Steff appeared to be in control of the situation until we saw her running wide on the long turn one sweeper leading to a broadside drift into the infield which Tony caught beautifully on camera.She told us later that she’d been looking in the rear vision mirror to see if Tony was going to duck down the inside under braking. When she looked forward again she realised with a shock that they were already rocketing past the 100 metre braking board. Fortunately she was able to rejoin without any damage but was frustrated to finish a lonely last.
The finishing order at the front was Paul Kelly in first with a two second margin back to Hayden Knighton, followed by Brian McGovern a further seven seconds back, then Sean Kirkpatrick in fourth.
After the first lap this race looked like it was going to be a copy of the previous race. Paul Kelly’s 991 stretched out to a comfortable lead over the second place 997 of Hayden Knighton while Brian McGovern was gamely hanging onto third in his ill-handling 997. Sean Kirkpatrick was right in the mix with the front group but this time it was his turn to leave the track on turn one. He was not so fortunate as Steff because he ended up being parked deeply in the sand trap facing the wrong way. This brought out the safety car and the recovery truck to tow Sean out of his predicament. The safety car circulated for a couple of laps until Sean was extricated and the rest of the field could continue racing. After a slightly controversial interpretation of the restart rules Paul Kelly once again stretched out his lead at the front of the pack.
Even though the finishing positions looked like a forgone conclusion there was some last lap excitement as Hayden Knighton bobbled slightly at the corner that leads onto the long main straight. This allowed Brian McGovern to get a better run out of the corner and pull up beside him for a dramatic side by side finish at the chequered flag. The official timing showed Brian was ahead of Hayden for second place by .015 seconds. With Sean Kirkpatrick relegated to the back of the field, Chris Nicholas brought his 997 home in fourth place.
Rush Hour 1 hour race on Saturday evening
The Rush hour races are a new concept promoted by promoters Speedworks to get diverse classes like V8 super tourers, GT1 and Porsches racing against each other. The concept is that cars are required to do a compulsory pit stop for a predetermined time that can be up to five minutes long for the fastest cars. This is a form of handicapping that we’ve seen used in the Australian GT championship.
The first event was held at our opening round at Taupo and won by Brian McGovern.
At Teretonga the field was dominated by Porsches and the finishing positions reflected this with Paul Kelly’s car, co-driven by Daniel Gaunt, winning the race. Hayden Knighton was second and Danny Whiting, co-driving with Andy Knight was third. A special mention needs to go out to Adrian Redding finishing a very fine tenth in his 944.
After three rounds the Club Championship series (a class based points system) is being lead by Tony Houston, followed by Steff Chambers and Brian McGovern.
For the Motorsport National Championship, (a first past the line system), Paul Kelly is leading, followed by Brian McGovern and Brent Greer.
Driver of the Round
We had a very worthy winner for the previous Ruapuna round, (presented by President Andy Anderson at Teretonga) – Steff Chambers. Driver of the round in the middle CTR Steff was delighted to win her first ever Class E race at Ruapuna and in the process dropped her best lap time by a whopping 10 seconds. Steff is now in hot demand by other drivers wanting her to teach them how they can also drop 10 seconds off their lap times. Congratulations Steff.
Our next stop is Manfeild on the weekend of February 9th–11th. We would be delighted to see as many lower North Island club members as possible to this great viewing track. You are all invited and welcome to join us for an informal sandwich lunch in the marquees on Sunday 11th. We promise you some great Porsche racing action.