BURNERS TURNING UP THE HEAT ON AUSTRALIA Christchurch V8 Ute competitors Simon 'Jnr Burner' Beirne and his father Graham 'Snr Burner' Beirne are playing a big part in the impressive New Zealand challenge to the Australian competitors in the...
BURNERS TURNING UP THE HEAT ON AUSTRALIA
Christchurch V8 Ute competitors Simon 'Jnr Burner' Beirne and his father Graham 'Snr Burner' Beirne are playing a big part in the impressive New Zealand challenge to the Australian competitors in the Trans Tasman V8 Ute Test Match at the ITM 400 in Hamilton. In fact both have been in outstanding form at the biggest motor race event of the year in New Zealand.
Preparations for the test series between V8 Ute competitors from both nations began on Friday with testing and qualifying and on their first ever visit to the tight confines of the Hamilton street circuit both were comfortably inside the top ten.
After getting a first taste of the circuit during the short test session Simon 'Jnr Burner' ended qualifying 5th fastest in his Team McDonald's Ford while Graham, 'Snr Burner' set the seventh fastest time in his John Jones Steel Falcon.
It was an excellent performance from both despite their already impressive credentials. Both have achieved national podiums in the New Zealand championship, Simon in 2008 and Graham this season. However Simon has been on the sidelines for over twelve months due to business and personal commitments while Graham, at age sixty-two, is driving better than at any other stage of his career.
The test series with Australia is being fought out over three races referred to as test matches. In the first of those on Saturday morning Simon started from fifth on the grid while Graham, who had set the 7th fastest qualifying time, had to start ninth as the series rules place one kiwi and one Australian on each row of the grid - costing Graham two positions. However both put in great race performances for New Zealand. Simon recorded lap times within 2/100th's of a second of New Zealand Champion Chris Pither and top Australian Kim Jane in the race as he brought the Team McDonald's Falcon home in fourth place, the second of the kiwi contingent, while Graham secured ninth place for his country.
Into the afternoon race and Simon made a blinder of a start. "I was right behind Chris Pither and I decided to sit there and watch and learn." However in the early shuffle for positions Simon was pushed back down to fifth place as things got hot at the front with several contacts made. However of the two Australians who got past Simon in the chaos Charlie 'Handlebars' Kovacs had already attracted a penalty for jumping the start while Simon latched onto Robert 'Captain' Jarvis and hunted him down. Going into ITM Corner Simon slammed the Team McDonald's Ford down from third to second gear and got his nose in front of both Jarvis and Kovacs, elevating himself from fifth to third on the road in one move. "I was over the moon," said Simon, and rightly so after an outstanding drive. Simon went on to bring the McDonald's Ute home third behind Pither and Jane while Graham was unfortunately not so lucky. The John Jones Steel Falcon was hit from behind, shattering a wheel which necessitated a pitstop. He rejoined and finished 16th.
Simon was elated with his day. "That is the best the Team McDonald's Ford has ever felt. The set-up was perfect and my head was in the right space. This a circuit to attack. You square the corners up and open the throttle early. I even clipped the wall at one stage, that is how close it got." Simon is now aiming for an event podium in the final race on Sunday morning at 10.20am. "It would be great to bring the McDonald's Ford home in third place for the round."
In addition to the support of major partners McDonalds and John Jones Steel in conjunction with Simon Beirne Limited, "Integrity in Vehicle Brokering," the team also has support from Bruce Raxworthy Panel & Paint, Chevron Quality Cars-Driving Excellence, Business IT Software Management Systems, Mag & Turbo Warehouse, Jeffs Vehicle Deliveries and Lets Get Graphic and DJ Hewitt Builders Ltd.