GTRNZ READY TO EXPLODE INTO ACTION AT PUKEKOHE
Some of the wildest machinery to currently grace the motor racing circuits of New Zealand comes to Pukekohe Park Raceway south of Auckland this weekend.
Throughout the most successful eras in New Zealand motorsport big, noisy, highly modified and very powerful saloon cars have been part of the attraction and that is the new GTRNZ Series in a nutshell. The combination of several exciting classes in their own right getting together to form one all-in series at the beginning of this season has been a spectacular success.
The newly formed category consists of three classes - GT1, GT2 and NZGT and all three are putting on a great show - big banger and highly modified saloons capturing the imagination with their noise, speed, colour and large grids.
The sight of these classes bursting over the hill onto the front straight at Pukekohe, battling it out into the daunting curve at the end of the straight at the South Auckland circuit is absolutely mind boggling.
Over 20 GT1 and GT2 cars will come together to race this weekend while the NZGT cars will race separately with over 30 entries expected.
Tauranga driver Grant Brennan leads the GT1 category in his Brennan Corvette SB2. Brennan is an experienced and fast campaigner and his preparation is excellent but despite a good points lead he has had to work hard to gain success this season. While his closest rival at the most recent rounds, John Rae will be absent this weekend as will another frontrunner Bernie Gillon, it may be even tougher this time out for Brennan. Defending NZV8 Champion Kayne Scott will contest the round in Derin Greenslade's Jaguar. Scott has raced successfully on both sides of the Tasman and is a five-time TraNZam Champion and two-time NZV8s Champion. Brennan and Scott are old adversaries, having raced against each other at the now defunct Bay Park circuit in Mount Mangaunui many years ago when Scott drove a Ford Mustang and then a potent, turbocharged Ford Merkur.
Nick Chester of Auckland in his superb Holden Commodore Supercar was extremely competitive the last time the series visited Pukekohe, his large capacity engine being well suited to the fast Pukekohe layout. Meanwhile two other frontrunners in the class hope to have made gains since the last round. Cameron Jones of Palmerston North has made engine and turbo modifications to his radical, turbocharged, rotary powered Chev Camaro while Andy Greenslade of Tauranga has made handling improvements to his C5 Corvette.
Craig Corliss of Auckland has a good points lead in the GT2 Class in his Falcon V8 Supercar but the podium spots have been shared around in this ultra competitive class. Wayne Conder of Auckland in a Camaro, Brian Gray of Tauranga in his quad rotary powered Mazda RX7 and Aucklander Harry Dodson in a Nissan Skyline can be expected to scrap it out. However with the exciting racing formats employed by the series many different drivers can force their way into the reckoning.
Two drivers seen in other classes of GTRNZ move into GT2 this weekend. Roger Fawbert of Upper Hutt will contest this class in his Chev Camaro while Whitford driver Conal Dempsey steps up from the NZGT class in his Porsche 964RS.
The big grids that feature in NZGT mean this class also contains plenty of exciting racing with many different competitors making it onto the podium at each round to date.
Currently New Plymouth driver Brent Lander leads the way in his Mitsubishi EVO from Andre Cowan. Cowan is just one point ahead of Stephen Brown Thomas of New Plymouth in a Subaru WRX while Brock Cooley is close behind.
The series will explode upon Pukekohe with qualifying on Saturday followed by the first race for GT1/GT2 plus the first race for the NZGT cars later that day. On Sunday there will be two more races for each class.
The GTRNZ will be part of the IRC Summer Of Thunder Tour 'Mid-Summer Thunder' meeting at Pukekohe Park Raceway this weekend.