Bob McMurray Toyota Racing New Zealand Ambassador, writes from the fourth round of the Toyota Racing Series round at Taupo…..
SUNDAY MORNING AT THE BRUCE McLAREN MOTORSPORT PARK
The main trophy for today’s Castrol Toyota Racing Series Championship round is the original and special ‘DENNY HULME MEMORIAL TROPHY’.
I think it is worth remembering something about the trophy and Denny Hulme here.
The 1974 Argentinian GP winner’s Trophy was the last trophy won by Denny.
Clive ‘Denny’ Hulme OBE (18/06/1936 – 04/10/1992) became the 1967 F1 World Champion driving a Brabham.
He went on to race for McLaren in F1, the Can-Am Challenge Cup Series and at the Indy 500.
He was Can-Am Champion in 1968 and in 1970 driving the McLaren M8D ‘batmobile’.
He drove the M8F in 1971 and continued in the series with McLaren in 1972.
He retired from F1 at the end of the 1974 season but continued to race Australian Touring cars and died from a heart attack while driving a BMW M3 at the Bathurst 1000 becoming the first former F1 World Champion to die of natural causes.
Todays trophy, the actual one awarded to him for winning the ‘Gran Premio Republica Argentina – Presidencia De La Nacion’
was damaged and restored in 2008.
Checking with all the teams again, as to any overnight problems, difficulties, changes or whatever, the answers in the main were in the form of a blank stare.
Nothing to report basically.
Not only am I impressed with the general level of competitiveness of the class of 2017, the speed which many of them show on a regular basis, the standard of driving (compared to other formulae and some other TRS seasons) but the lack of consistent damage of the cars is also an impressive trait.
These guys actually seem to be racing hard, very hard sometimes, but without any real intent to cause damage.
A very impressive bunch this lot.
I guess I really should not have said that with (as I write this) five races to go.
The days racing was curtailed on Saturday evening when one of the Pre-65 cars (a Falcon I think) went off on the main straight and into the ArmCo barriers just before the start line.
It made a mess of them, as well as the car of course, and that section had to be replaced overnight.
Actually the barriers suffered a whole bunch more than the car as that was back on track, all shiny and straight, for it’s first race today (Sunday).
RACE #2 of the weekend
Another day, another race, another safety car.
A few more casualties involved in today’s incident but all made it either back on track or back to the pits.
Those involved were Cockerton, Habsburg, Hayek, Simmenauer, Enders, Vaidyanathan plus one or two others that got away with it.
Damage involved new rear wings, front wings, assorted bits of suspension and egos.
(I really should not have said that bit above!!)
Good racing again until a Giles motorsport car went off track and stopped at the exit to turn #9, ‘The Dust Bowl’ causing a safety car.
From the restart Piquet, in the lead of the race since out gunning Laliberte on pole, carefully and expertly mastered the pack with a controlled acceleration and led once again.
Attention from Randle and Daruvala notwithstanding, he took the race win.
Second Randle, third Daruvala, then came Armstrong just managing to fight off Leitch, Verschoor (strangely quiet and maybe off pace), Ahmed, Leeds, Neubauer, Andres in tenth.Eleventh was Laliberte (after an off track experience while lying second), Hahn, Lastochkin, Blackstock, Cockerton, Habsburg, Vaidyanathan, Hayek, Enders (DNF) then Simmenauer.
The Championship lead battle was still on but changed with Verschoor surrendering the points lead to Randle.
The lunchtime Lexus Hot Lap / Track ride session was well attended again today.
Brent Sellens came into the pits at one point with a “I have a confession” look on his face.
He put his particular steed on the grass at the exit of the last turn apparently and his female passenger absolutely LOVED it!
Greeta Hulme, wife of Denny and Anita Hulme, sister of Denny were kind enough to share lunch with us and it was good to see them both again.
Greeta is presenting the awards for race #3 today.
And so we progressed to race #3 the DENNY HULME MEMORIAL TROPHY event.
There just HAD to be a safety car and there was.
This time to recover the car of Kory Enders parked in the pumice / scoria / gravel / whatever at turn #1, lap #1.
He had managed to get tangled up in the first corner left hand melee with Neubauer.
The Frenchman returned to the pits as was quickly underway again after some repairs but Kory needed a tow out which turned a bit dramatic when the Land Cruised was trying to tow him in a ‘U’ turn and the wheels of the race car were not aimed in the same direction.
The car was pulled sideways and momentarily went up on two wheels before being rather unceremoniously dropped down again.
So, on lap #3 we had another safety car red flag restart and leader Marcus Armstrong dealt with it all admirably.
He pulled out a big lead and was never headed.
Jehan Daruvala was chasing him but the gap never really looked like being closed and gradually turned into a chasm.
A lot of this was because Ferdinand Habsburg managed to get into third position, ahead of Randle and Piquet, and proceeded to protect that position from each and every attempt Thomas Randle made to pass, with increasing frustration on Randles part.
The train behind these three became exactly that, a high speed, nose to tail train.
Randle tried everything but to no avail and those positions remained the same to the end of the race.
Armstrong drove beautifully, with some considerable coaching from the pits, Daruvala did all he could until he decided that his tyres were not good enough to keep trying and Habsburg did a great job of defensive, legally defensive, driving.
New points totals, a new points leader and three more races to go in the Championship.