Everything is on the line as the Carter’s Tyres SI Endurance Series readies itself for this weekend’s Grand Finale at the Timaru International Motor Raceway. The tight and twisty nature of the Levels circuit always produces close and exciting racing and expect nothing less for 2016. With an amazing 17 teams that still have a mathematical chance of taking out the overall 3 hour Series victory, spectators & fans can be assured that teams will leave absolutely nothing on the table as they fight it out for Series honours, pride and prize money as the Carters Tyres Endurance SI Series comes down to the wire.
The 2017 series has provided some incredibly fast and furious racing to date, with both speed and strategy coming into play. A pit stop mistake at Ruapuna left the series leading Carters Tyres Mercedes AMG SLS GT3 of Dwayne and Matt Carter languishing down the field whilst it was the Porsche 997 GT3R of past SI champions Angus & George McFarlane whose Ruapuna podium propelled them to second in the standings and has set up a winner takes all race for the prestigious South Island title.
Looking to spoil the party is the new Manthey spec Porsche 991 MR of Johnny McIntyre/Simon Gilbertson. An engine failure in the series opener and fuel lift pump issues at round two sees the team languishing in 27th position overall. With the ProBrands Porsche likely to suit the twisty Levels circuit the GilbertsonJMR racer will be looking for a strong showing to make the Series top 20 and qualify for the New Zealand championship event. With a few of the North Island teams heading home after the Ruapuna, the battle for the final podium position both overall and in the combined Class D and Class E will likely be between Allan Dippie/Scott O’Donnell (Porsche 991) and Paul Rickerby and Graeme Rhodes (Falcon V8ST). Another exciting entry but one that is out of series podium contention is the Malaysian based Mike Racing team that will again field their growling Aston Martin Vantage V8 for the all-female combination of Christina Orr-West and Chelsea Herbert.
The battle in all the classes is equally as hotly contested, and Class C (3501cc+) is lined up to be an epic battle. While this class has been dominated by DNF’s with all cars in the class failing to finish one of the two previous rounds, the class win will come down to a three way winner takes all race between round one winners Eddie Bell & Jordan Michels (BMW M3 V8), round two winners of Hamish Frew/Darryl Barrett (RX7 V8) and the magnificent twin turbo Toyota 86 of Craig & Scotty McDermid. However another DNF for those cars could easily see the Rob Williams/Scott Harrison (twin turbo BMW 135i) or the Nascar engined Falcon V8 of Perry Scarfe/Grant Silvester take the class win, so receiving the chequered flag is vital to all teams.
Tim Mackersey/Barry Moore (VW Golf GTi) currently Class B (2001-3500cc) by a slender 12 point margin, however tied on points for second & third are the sister Golf GTi of Ron Mackersey/Warren Good and the Mazda RX8 of Jarrod Parmenter/Andrew Brunton. But a mere single point behind those two is the Ruapuna Class B winning Seat Leon Supercopa of Mike Driver/Phil Hood who are pulling out all the stops with an additional hot-shot driver being added to the team as they focus on taking a win at the Levels round to secure at least second in the class.
The 0-2000cc Class A is led by BMW E46 WTCC of Stu & Arron Black after their main opposition of Michael & Rodney Parkes (Honda S2000) recording a costly DNF at the Ruapuna round. This leaves 3hr rookies Mark Taylor/Vaughan Moloney currently second in class as well as leading the lucrative rookie cup. Currently third in class is the Grant & Matt Moore combination who had a race day change of cars at Ruapuna swapping into their 2KCup spec Levin after engine damage sidelined the Altezza. Just behind them & level on points is the ongoing on and off track battle between the 2K Cup Mercedes of Victor Cattermole/Matt Holland and the Peugeot 106 of Tim Stanton/Leyton Tremain. Although they are tied on points for the on track battle, it’s the French leading the German in the humorous off track pranking competition. Others that will be competitive in the baby class include Terrence & Darryl Phillips (Integra) who finished a strong second in class at Ruapuna after not even making the race start at Teretonga. Plus the exciting entry from three generations of the legendary South Island McElrea family with Grandfather Rod, son Andy and grandson Hunter teaming up to share the Toyota 86 spec car.
So with 95 points on offer, both the overall and class championships are far from sealed. As with any endurance racing a slight misfortune either on the track or during their pit stops can make or break a driver’s race and entire Series and with still so much to be decided the Levels race will be a real cliff-hanger. But the most important aspect is making the chequered flag and in endurance racing things can change in a heartbeat as a slight problem, mistake or DNF can have an immediate and dramatic effect on the standings.
So as we approach the final round of the 2017 Carters Tyres SI Endurance Series there will be teams desperate to consolidate their championship positions, whilst others who are out of contention will throw caution to the wind in the pursuit of a class or race glory. And with the red hot pace the series has seen to date, will any of the contenders drop under the magic minute around the tight Timaru circuit as they also chase new lap and race records.
As well as bragging rights, the overall Carters Tyres SI Endurance series winner will be awarded the coveted ‘South Canterbury Toyota Cup’ and a share of the $30,000 prizemoney paid out across both the 3hr & 1hr series’ thanks to Series sponsors Carters Tyres Services. There are many other awards and prizes up for grabs including $5000 cash spot prizes and a newly formed Rookie Cup with its purse of close to $2000. Other spot prizes include a set of Michelin race tyres and product from ENDLESS advanced brake Technologies.
Entries are still available for the 3hr race, and for more information on the South Island Endurance Series, entries, or to be added to the South Island Endurance Racing Drivers Club’s e-mailing list, please contact Chris Dunn via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org ph 021-107-9293, or information and updates can be found on their facebook page at www.facebook.com/sierdcnz . For more information on Series sponsor Carters Tyres please visit www.carterstyres.co.nz . Action starts from 9am Saturday and gate entry is just $15-00.