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Racing line: carnage in the wet at Ruapuna

22 January, 2016

Andre Heimgartner returned to the BNT NZ Touring Car Championship over the weekend of January 16–17 at Ruapuna in great style, capturing the round win at the fourth event of the championship.

Heimgartner claimed two race wins and a second placing in the final race of the weekend, which was won by championship leader Simon Evans.

Evans’ race-three win may have been in jeopardy following a lap-one clash with Scott Taylor, but a post-race investigation deemed it a racing incident and no penalty was applied.

For Heimgartner, who has returned to the championship after a year of competing in the Australian V8 Supercar championship, says it was a pleasing weekend in what were wet and trying race conditions over all three races.

“It was a tricky weekend — the weather certainly played a part. It was a fun weekend though, we didn’t finish a single race with the same conditions that we started with; I really enjoyed it,” said Heimgartner.

Race three was a reverse grid, which saw Heimgartner start from the rear of the field, forcing him to push hard in the early stages of the race.

“I made some good places off the start, but then found myself caught up in the Evans/Taylor incident and was then almost last again, so I had to battle through the pack to get back up the front.

“Simon is driving really well at the moment, so it’s nice to be able to come and challenge him. I’m really looking forward to Teretonga next weekend [January 23–24] where we can have another go.”

In class two, the weekend was largely dominated by series newcomer Sam Barry of Waipukurau who qualified on pole and scored a race win and a second place in the weekend’s opening two races. 

However his points lead was short-lived when he failed to finish race three after he was caught up in a multi-car incident at turn one, which ended his weekend in the sand trap.

The class-two race-three win eventually went to Wellington’s Brock Cooley, which saw him tie on round points with Invercargill’s Liam MacDonald.

The round win went to MacDonald based on a higher qualifying position from earlier in the weekend.

With MacDonald only competing in part of the championship, it is now Cooley who has his eye on the class-two championship.

“It was a great weekend for us in the Speedy Signs Ford. We banked some valuable points for our championship campaign, and we’re now leading it. I’m really pleased with how the weekend has gone,” said Cooley.

“Brad Lathrope is still in the championship hunt, so we’ll have to be mindful of him going forward and make sure we continue to finish ahead of him and maintain that margin.”

The BNT NZ Touring Cars will race again over the weekend of Jan 23–24 at Teretonga near Invercargill.

Motorsport Flashback – Kiwi rallying in the 1970s

Rallying arrived in New Zealand in 1973 like a tsunami. It had been only a few years since the sport was introduced here and shortly afterwards Heatway came on board as the sponsor to take rallying to a new level. The 1973 Heatway would be the longest and biggest yet, running in both islands with 120 drivers over eight days and covering some 5400 kilometres. The winner was 31-year-old Hannu Mikkola — a genuine Flying Finn who had been rallying since 1963 before putting any thoughts of a career on hold until he completed an economics degree. The likeable Finn became an instant hero to many attracted to this new motor sport thing. I was one of them.

Think of it as a four-door Cooper

New Zealand Mini Owners Club coordinator Josh Kelly of Dunedin loves his Minis. It’s a family affair. Julie and Mike, Josh’s mum and dad, are just as keen, and they can usually all be found taking part in the club’s annual ‘Goodbye, Pork Pie’ charity run from the North of the country to the South.
But lately Josh’s young head has been turned by some other revolutionary BMC cars. He has picked up a couple of Austin and Morris 1100 and 1300s, which he started to restore — that was until an opportunity arose to buy a rare example stored in a shed.