FHOLDEN: Manfield race report

Simon Wills (Birrana Racing - Reynard 94D) decimated the opposition in today's opening Tasman Express New Zealand Grand Prix Series race at New Zealand's Manfeild Autocourse. The 24-year-old Melbourne, Australia based Aucklander drove faultlessly...

Simon Wills (Birrana Racing - Reynard 94D) decimated the opposition in today's opening Tasman Express New Zealand Grand Prix Series race at New Zealand's Manfeild Autocourse. The 24-year-old Melbourne, Australia based Aucklander drove faultlessly to go to the line 18.9s ahead of fellow Auckland driver Matthew Halliday (NRC Racing - Reynard 95D). Wills led every lap and recorded a new Formula Holden lap record of 62.106s - an average speed of 175.8km/h. The action behind Wills was intense with Halliday coming through from a slow start to pass Paul Dumbrell (Wynn's Racing - Reynard 93D) and Rick Kelly (Murphy Motorsport/ M ONE 11 - Reynard 95D), the latter scoring a brilliant third place after a rapid start in his debut Formula Holden race.

Dumbrell faded to fourth with a down on power engine after holding second for half of the race and actually challenged Wills on the run down to turn one, taking advantage of an amended qualifying order following a protest from his team. This resulted in the eighteen-year-old Victorian starting from second grid spot and pushed LeRoy Stevenson (Birrana Racing/ Allied Concrete - Reynard 94D) from the front row back to fifth. Stevenson's misery didn't end there, an off exiting the final turn dropping him back even further, but he rebounded to claw his way back to fifth despite a broken front wing. After an excellent drive and having to fend off the strenuous advances of WA's Stuart Kostera for the entire race, Canberra's Terry Clearihan held on to sixth by 0.09s. Roger Oakeshott claimed eighth, Mark Ellis ninth and Ian Lloyd, after a complete rebuild following yesterday's crash, filled tenth.

Among those to strike trouble were Andy Booth (NRC Racing/ Propecia - Reynard 95D), who blew his clutch at the start, Emerson Newton-John (ran as high as fifth at one point), an overheating engine after a 'grassy' moment and Steve Owen - another to go farming and having to make a pit-stop to remove the countryside. This afternoon's 30 lap Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy race will be conducted over 91 kilometres and the tough, high-speed nature of the circuit will test the drivers stamina. Wills has yet to win the coveted trophy and short of unexpected failure he looks certain do so.

<pre> Top Ten Finishers Race 1

Pos Driver Team Car Race Time Laps Fastest On 1 Simon Wills Birrana Racing Reynard 94D 20:55.649 20 1:02.106 4 2 Matthew Halliday NRC Racing Reynard 95D 21:14.606 20 1:02.827 14 3 Rick Kelly Greg Murphy Racing Reynard 95D 21:18.610 20 1:02.925 14 4 Paul Dumbrell Wynns Racing Reynard 93D 21:22.412 20 1:03.380 16 5 LeRoy Stevenson Birrana Racing Reynard 94D 21:32.511 20 1:03.594 14 6 Terry Clearihan Terry Clearihan Ralt RT23 21:03.670 19 1:05.529 9 7 Stuart Kostera Hocking Motorsport Reynard 97D 21:03.760 19 1:05.427 3 8 Roger Oakeshott Sportsmed Racing Reynard 98D 21:07.361 19 1:05.494 11 9 Mark Ellis Mantis Racing Reynard 92D 21:19.479 19 1:06.473 12 10 Ian Lloyd Ian Lloyd Structural Dome FL02-03 21:15.997 18 1:09.147 13

New Lap Record set by Simon Wills 1:02.106 (average lap speed 175.8 km/h)

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Series Other open wheel
Drivers Matthew Halliday , Denny Hulme , Greg Murphy , Rick Kelly , Simon Wills , Steve Owen , Paul Dumbrell , Mark Ellis , Stuart Kostera , Emerson Newton-John , Andy Booth