FHOLDEN: NRC Racing Manfield race report

Melbourne based Formula Holden team, NRC Racing, has won the coveted Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy race at Manfield Park (Palmerston North) in New Zealand. Andy Booth, the 25 year old Kiwi, powered his Propecia sponsored NRC Reynard 95D to a ...

Melbourne based Formula Holden team, NRC Racing, has won the coveted Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy race at Manfield Park (Palmerston North) in New Zealand. Andy Booth, the 25 year old Kiwi, powered his Propecia sponsored NRC Reynard 95D to a resounding victory after a late race pit stop by race leader Simon Wills handed the second placed Booth the lead in which he retained brilliantly for the final seven laps of the race. For 21 year old Matthew Halliday, it was a sad end to such a promising start from third on the grid, when an oil pump failure ended his race after one single lap. Full details of both races held on the day, the first two rounds of the 2000 Tasman Express New Zealand Grand Prix Series follow.

RACE ONE - 20 Laps
Fine and warm conditions greeted the fourteen car Formula Holden field for the preliminary Tasman Cup 20 lap race at 1:00pm. An unusually long delay at the red light stage of the start proved very costly for NRC Racing driver Andy Booth, whose clutch slipped droppig him down the order to last position by the first corner. The clutch did not function at all after the slippage making the NRC Propecia Reynard 95D the first retirement of the race.

It was a strong starting Matthew Halliday who blasted out of the third spot on the grid to tail pole and second place starters Simon Wills (NZ) and Paul Dumbrell (AUS). Halliday was superb in his Turner Motor Auctions /Empower NRC Reynard 95D, battling with the Australian driver and forcing his way past on lap 11 by taking the outside line around the fast first corner and racing side by side to take the inside line into the esses and power ahead to the finish. By this stage Wills had amassed a unchallenged lead of 19 seconds by the chequered flag taking the victory from Halliday, Australian 17 year old Rick Kelly, Dumbrell and Kiwi Leroy Stevenson.

Matthew Halliday's fastest lap of 1:02.827s was 6/10ths of a second behind that of winner Simon Wills. According to Halliday, "The car was much better in rear grip during the race and we are improving every time we go out onto the track. By the time I passed Dumbrell it was too late to even think about catching Wills, his lead was way too big, the next race is a very long one and we will be faster again."

The main race of the day started with Simon Wills powering into the early lead with the hard charging Propecia NRC Reynard 95D driver and front row starter Andy Booth staying with the race one winner into the first turn. Matthew Halliday, starting from third on the grid got his Turners Auctions / Empower NRC Reynard 95D off to a great start, but it wasn't long into the first lap when pumes of smoke appeared from his engine, forcing the talented Kiwi to retire into the pits. It was later discovered that a jammed rock in the oil pump belt caused an oil pump failure. A sad end to what could have been the NRC Racing Team's first ever 1,2 finish.

As the race powered on to the ten lap mark, the gap between Booth and Wills widened, with Australian teenager Rick Kelly in third ahead of Leroy Stevenson and Paul Dumbrell. Stevenson made his way to third when Dumbrell spun later in the race, Booth sustaining a consistent race pace some thirteen seconds behind Wills.

With nine laps to go the Safety Car appeared after a second spin by Dumbrell at turn one, bunching up the field and bringing Booth close to Wills for the final seven lap sprint to the chequered flag. The order at this stage was Wills, Booth, Stevenson and Kelly. One lap after the re-start the entire race turned around when Wills raced into the pits due to his seat belt becoming unfastened. This incredible turn of events saw Booth promoted to the lead as he easily held off the advances of Stevenson and Kelly to take the first ever victory of his career at one of his country's most renowned motor racing events.

This effort placed his name amongst the greats of international motorsport to have won the Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy. Booth also earned his new sponsor Propecia and NRC Racing their first ever victory in New Zealand.

ANDY BOOTH - RACE WINNER - "At the start I thought that I could stay with Simon, then he started to pull away a bit each lap, so I kept putting in consistent fast laps in the hope that Simon's pace might level out later in the race and we could try to catch him. Needless to say I was pleased to see the Safety Car because as the race went on the car became more and more unstable and the laps behind the Safety Car cooled down the tyres well. At the re-start the car had heaps of grip and I made a mistake at the hairpin which let Simon go, but then he slowed at the end of the back straight and I ran around the outside of him to get past, not realising that he was trying to pit! I got past him on the outside and we almost hit - after that is was an easy run to the finish - the Propecia NRC Racing machine didn't miss a beat all day."

MATTHEW HALLIDAY - DNF - "To say I am disappointed would be a huge understatement, it seems to be that every time I am in a position to win a race, something like this happens. I was confident of winning this race today, the car felt great on the warm up lap and during the opening lap. To miss out on capitalising on something as rare as Simon Wills pulling out of the lead of a race is a bitter pill to swallow. This makes me even more determined to win the New Zealand Grand Prix next week."

ARTHUR ABRAHAMS - NRC RACING TEAM OWNER - "The team and I are delighted that Andy Booth has been able to showcase his obvious talent and take a win from the all conquering Birrana Racing Team. On a down note, I am very disappointed that we had a mechanical failure with Matthew Halliday, which not only prevented him scoring valuable points, but also prevented the team from achieving its first ever 1,2 finish."

NRC Racing now heads to the city of Auckland for the next two rounds of the 2000 Tasman Express New Zealand Grand Prix Series, the fourth round being the 2000 Tasman Express New Zealand Grand Prix at the Pukekohe circuit next Sunday. (December 4).

<pre> Sunday Morning Warm Up times:

1. Simon Wills - 1:01.703s 2. Andy Booth - 1:02.062s 3. Matthew Halliday - 1:02.386s

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Matthew Halliday , Denny Hulme , Rick Kelly , Simon Wills , Paul Dumbrell , Andy Booth