Collins Heads South With Confidence The surprise winner of the inaugural round of the new Toyota Racing Series at Timaru last weekend, local driver Brent Collins, says he is heading to the second round of the 2005 series at ...
Collins Heads South With Confidence
The surprise winner of the inaugural round of the new Toyota Racing Series at Timaru last weekend, local driver Brent Collins, says he is heading to the second round of the 2005 series at Invercargill's Teretonga Park confident of another good showing.
Collins, 30, was the ultimate dark horse in the 17-strong Toyota Racing Series at Timaru, having not raced for the past four years.
In that time a whole new generation of talented young drivers has come through the ranks of karts and the junior formula here and overseas.
Despite that, the second-generation racer who helps run the family farm near Timaru, put his Landpower and Ribena-backed Toyota-Tatuus TT104ZZ on pole in in Saturday's timed qualifying session, finished a close-second to 15-year-old sensation Brendon Hartley in the first race, mastered difficult conditions to claim a runaway win in the second, then was only pipped by former New Zealand Formula Ford champion James Cressey on the last lap to claim another second place in the third race.
That gave him the round win from Hartley and Cressey and favourite status for this weekend's second Toyota Racing Series round at Invercargill's Teretonga Park, a fast, challenging circuit Collins made his own when his was racing his Mazda RX7!
"I certainly enjoy Teretonga," he said en route to the country's (and many believe, the world's) southern-most motor racing circuit. "It's fast and I like fast tracks."
Of course there is no shortage of talented, determined drivers in the Toyota Racing Series field and if the first round is anything to go by Collins will be pushed all the way by young Palmerston North driver Brendon Hartley, Queensland-based former New Zealand kart and Formula Ford champion James Cressey, and a posse of at least six others likely to include 2003 World Karting Champion Wade Cunningham, 2003 Australian F4000 champion Daniel Gaunt, former New Zealand kart champion Matthew Hamilton and the elder statesman of the New Zealand motor racing scene, Ken Smith.
Hartley made a little bit of history when he won the first ever Toyota Racing Series race from pole man Collins and Daniel Gaunt, but Collins got his own back on a streaming wet track in the second race, leading it from start to finish.
It was 20-year-old James Cressey who made the most of the changeable conditions in the final race however, top-toeing around on slick tyres early on the damp but drying track then quickly catching and passing the drivers who had elected to run on wet tyres from the half way point.
Kudos for the new Toyota Racing Series came from Cressey, who last year competed in Australia's Carrera Cup Championship for Porsche GT3 Cup cars, and before that spent two years competing with success in the Australian Formula 3 championship.
"It is more professional than I was expecting, although it's just as tough and competitive as I thought it would be. The cars are more -- better -- than I thought they might be and it's just great to be involved in this exciting new series," he said.
This weekend there will again be three Toyota Racing Series races. The first 12 lap race will be held on Saturday afternoon, the second early on Sunday morning and the third - a 16 lap final - will be held early on Sunday afternoon.
This weekend's meeting at Invercargill's Teretonga Park also hosts a 50 minute twilight endurance race for Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Championship drivers on Saturday evening and the New Zealand Grand Prix for the Formula Ford class. There will also be interest in the Parker ENZED New Zealand V8 Touring Car races because of Ford driver John McIntyre's breakthrough wins at Timaru.