Toyota 86 fever spreads to the NZRDL

The exciting new one-make Toyota TR 86 Championship series has released its inaugural calendar, and the category’s first season will include one round with the New Zealand Racing Drivers’ League at its Hampton Downs event on May 3 and 4, 2014.

TR 86 (600 x 373)

The new Toyota TR86 in testing – The NZRDL will host the class at its May 3 and 4 event at Hampton Downs.

League events are open to any class which would like an extra date in their championship calendar, or need dates at a choice of circuits to form a basis for their own series.

“It’s really great news for the League in its first year to be able to host the Toyota TR86s and there’s no question they will be a big draw card for the event next season,” said League organiser Chris Watson.

“They have a varied and interesting calendar that will give variety to the drivers and the teams and that’s great news for motorsport. That Hampton Downs meeting is shaping up to be quite an event, with Toyotas, Sports Cars, Motul Honda Cup, the RRE rotary class, Superkarts, 2K Cup and Formula Ford already on the starting line-up and plenty of interest from other categories. Our motto for the League is a simple one – It’s Just Racing – and these great little cars will be a big hit in that environment.”

The TR 86 race car build programme is well advanced with all 20 cars being assembled at Toyota Racing’s Mount Wellington facilities. The cars will be delivered to their new owners in a handover at the Manfeild circuit near Feilding on the October 10 at the first official test day. the televised seven-round series will start at the Highlands Motorsport Park circuit at Cromwell in November before making its way north. Granted official championship status in its inaugural year, the series has recently confirmed a $20,000 cash prize fun for its inaugural season.

The League kicks off with the first of its four events over the next season with a massive fixture at Hampton Downs on September 28 and 29 that will see the BNT V8 SuperTourers lend its considerable weight to the launch event with the first round of its endurance series. Manfeild (March 1 and 2 2013), Taupo (April 5 and 6) and the finale at Hampton Downs on May 3 and 4 complete the schedule.

 

Spectacular Sports Cars join NZRDL for two events

NZ Sports Cars will join the New Zealand Racing Drivers League for two events for the 2013-2014 and will be one of the classes provided by the NZRDL for the second round of the BNT V8 SuperTourers endurance championship at Hampton Downs on October 19 and 20.

The big Hampton Downs V8 meeting in October will open the season for the category, and it will have a calendar that will include fixtures at Manfeild on March 1 and 2 and Taupo on 5 and 6 of April with the New Zealand Racing Drivers League.

The mini Le Mans racers will be racing at two NZRDL events

The mini Le Mans racers will be racing at two NZRDL events

Sports cars are one of the fastest growing and most spectacular classes of racing in the world today with manufacturers like Radical, Juno and former-F1 constructor Ligier all developing the pocket Le Mans-style racers for a growing market.

The cars are light, generate huge downforce and are powered by a variety of lightweight and powerful motors including hi-revving motorcycle engines and powerful road car engines like the Honda K20A. Most utilise advanced sequential gearboxes like their bigger Le Mans cousins and the result of all of that technology is that they are amongst the fastest of all racing cars in New Zealand.

“I cannot tell you how excited we are to have secured the NZ Sports Car Club as a category which we will run at NZRDL events,” said NZRDL organiser Chris Watson.

“The cars are amazing and the category is growing – which makes it a very rare animal in NZ motor racing. There’s no question that at the bigger meetings we will be involved with like the BNT V8 SuperTourers, they will be a big hit with the crowds.”

Race classes like the Motul Honda Cup, the 2K Cup, Rotary Race Enthusiasts, North Island Formula Ford, Formula Libre and Superkarts will all run their core series as part of the NZRDL. The new Toyota TR86 series will also be on the bill at the season finale event at Hampton Downs next May.

 

 

BNT SUPERTOURERS HEADLINE NZRDL OPENER AT HAMPTON DOWNS

SuperTourers at Hampton Downs

Murphy and the rest of the best headline NZRDL launch

The 2013-2014 Summer Season at Hampton Downs will blast off in the best possible way over the weekend of September 28 and 29 with the BNT V8 SuperTourers and their star drivers battling out the first round of their endurance season supported for the first time by classes from the New Zealand Racing Drivers League.

 The SuperTourers were originally pencilled in for Pukekohe for the first of the 2013 enduros but will now run at the North Waikato track over the weekend of September 28 and 29.  All of the star drivers like Greg Murphy, Scott McLaughlin, Shane van Gisbergen, Ant Pedersen, Johnny McIntyre, Andy Booth and Craig Baird- along with a significant number of Australian and International drivers that will be confirmed over the next few weeks – will compete and with refuelling set to make its SuperTourer debut that weekend, the event is certain to be of huge interest to race fans.

Organisers NZRDL are promising lots of track time for fans of the country’s fastest V8 touring cars as new combinations get to grips with the longer distance races following the first four rounds of sprint format racing.

Hampton Downs will host two rounds of the three round endurance series for the BNT SuperTourers so getting the cars and combinations sorted at the first weekend of September 28 and 29 is going to be absolutely critical for teams and drivers. If they get it right, then they could be set for two big points scoring weekends,” explained the NZRDL’s Chris Watson.

“It’s just a fantastic way to kick off the summer season at Hampton Downs and we’re genuinely thrilled that we will be able to showcase some of our young NZRDL classes such as the new Rotary Race Enthusiasts, the 2K Cup and the Motul Honda Cup. We’ll also be running Formula Libre and Formula Ford at the event, so there should be something for everyone and non-stop action for the whole weekend.”

The iconic Formula Ford 1600 class is on the bill at a BNT V8 SuperTourer event for the first time with the non-championship event a curtain raiser and shakedown for the new North Island Formula Ford Championship. The Motul Honda Cup hopes to field in excess of 20 cars, and the new Rotary class is also hopeful of fielding somewhere between 15 and 20 cars. The 2K Cup made its debut at Hampton Downs with 22 cars last month, and is hoping for a few more at the meeting, which will form the second round of its inaugural series.

Families wishing to attend the Saturday of the event can go for FREE as part of the LJ Hooker Free Family Pass For Schools promotion. Just visit www.v8st.co.nz from September 5th and click on the LJ Hooker link, enter the school your children attend and grab a free four person pass!

 

 

North Island and South Island Formula Ford series announced

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FF1600 North Island series to run three NZRDL events

Both the North Island and South Island series will be open to any Formula Ford racing cars, but a variety of classes incorporating modern and less contemporary machinery will operate to encourage more drivers to bring out the legendary single-seater racing cars. Classes will cater for all later eras of the popular racing category.

Each of the North Island and South Island series will run over six rounds, with each sharing three rounds with the premier six round National Formula Ford Championship – a title which boasts some of the country’s finest racing names as winners.

North Island-based Formula Ford drivers and teams can double up by competing for both the National title and the North Island title. The national championship rounds at Hampton Downs (February 1 and 2), Manfeild (February 8 and 9) and Taupo (March 8 and 9) will also form three rounds of the new North Island series, with the three New Zealand Racing Drivers League meetings at Manfeild (March 1 and 2), Taupo (April 5 and 6) and Hampton Downs (May 3 and 4) completing the North Island series dates.

There will be a similar opportunity on the South Island for teams and drivers there, with the championship rounds at Ruapuna on November 2 and 3, Teretonga on January 11 and 12 and Levels on January 18 and 19 qualifying for both National Championship points and South Island Formula Ford series points, with further meetings at Levels on November 17th, Teretonga on December 7 and 8 and Ruapuna on March 23 providing the remaining three rounds for the South Island Formula Ford series.

“It is very positive to see a high level of co-operation within the Formula Ford classes with the aim to secure a future for the NZ Formula Ford Championship,” explained MotorSport New Zealand’s General Manager,  Brian Budd. “Formula Ford is still accepted internationally as the ideal formula in which young race car drivers can develop race craft that positions them to go on and succeed in wings and slicks formulas. For that reason MotorSport New Zealand continues to support Formula Ford.”

NZRDL co-organiser and HRC boss Chris Watson was also delighted with the news of a coordinated Formula Ford approach in NZ. “We’re very pleased to be involved in this very exciting resurgence in Formula Ford racing. The category has always been an important step in the career of young drivers and by including Historic Formula Ford it gives younger drivers less of a financial hurdle to enter the class.”

South Island series organiser Steve Edwards too, says the coordinated approach is great news for Formula Ford in New Zealand.

“New Zealand is a small country so one set of regulations for all FF championships is sensible simply so cars can enter a range of events. Currently all four series have their own rules which divides the racing potential of the 150 odd cars in the country. One core set of regulations have been achieved and that is great news. We want maximum sized grids this season. By improving the ‘class’ structure of the national series this has been achieved. We all very much hope the outcome will be substantial grid sizes with purposeful, close racing throughout.”

 

DOMESTIC FORMULA FORD RACING CALENDAR 2013-2014

National Formula Ford 1600 Championship

Round 1, Powerbuilt Tools Raceway, Ruapuna, November 2 and 3 2013

Round 2, Teretonga, Invercargill, January 11 and 12 2014

Round 3, Levels, Timaru   (Long circuit), January 18 and 18 2014

Round 4, Hampton Downs, North Waikato, February 1 and 2 2014

Round 5, Manfeild Autocourse, Feilding, February 8 and 9 2014

Round 6, Taupo Motorsport Park, March 8 and 9 2014

 

North Island Formula Ford Championship

Round 1, Hampton Downs, North Waikato, February 1 and 2 2014

Round 2, Manfeild Autocourse, Feilding, February 8 and 9 2014

Round 3, Manfeild Autocourse, Feilding, March 1 and 2 2014

Round 4 , Taupo Motorsport Park, March 8 and 9 2014

Round 5, Taupo Motorsport Park, April 5 and 6 2014

Round 6, Hampton Downs, North Waikato , May 3 and 4 2014

 

South Island Formula Ford Championship

Round 1, Powerbuilt Tools Raceway, Ruapuna, November 2 and 3 2013

Round 2, Levels, Timaru (Short circuit), November 17 2013

Round 3, Teretonga, Invercargill, December 7 and 8 2013

Round 4, Teretonga, Invercargill, January 11 and 12 2014

Round 5, Levels, Timaru(Long circuit), January 18 and 18 2014

Round 6, Powerbuilt Tools Raceway, Ruapuna, March 23 2014

Superkarts sign up for NZRDL

Superkart

One of New Zealand’s most spectacular and extreme forms of motor racing – Superkarts – are to run at the final three events of the New Zealand Racing Drivers League first season in 2014.

 The NZRDL has already confirmed the Motul Honda Cup and the new 2K Cup class as well as an open category for rotary powered racing cars – the RRE – for its first four events at Hampton Downs on September 28/29, Manfeild on March 1 and 2, Taupo on April 5 and 6 and Hampton Downs on May 3 and 4. 

 Now, the spectacular Superkart series has committed to Manfeild, Taupo and Hampton Downs.

 “Superkarting evokes the ultimate adrenalin rush, where the driver is just a couple of inches off the ground,” explained series organiser Andrew Hall. “The machines are simple and yet technically sophisticated. They can easily achieve lap times and speeds more expensive racing machines can only dream about. Our field has 30 karts and more and there are battles in every race across all five classes. We’ll definitely add another dimension to these exciting race meetings.

 “The NZRDL gives us the foundation for our series that we have been looking for both the active racers and other members of the Superkart Drivers Club members. In short it provides certainty for the race calendar for a growing club and expanding race series and we are very much looking forward to being a part of it.”

 For further information about Superkarting or Kartsport Superkart Drivers Club membership visit www.kartsport.org.nz/about-us/clubs/kartsport-superkart-drivers

 

Racing heaven revealed for rotary enthusiasts

A new class launched for the New Zealand Racing Drivers League is aiming to assemble the most varied grid of normally aspirated and turbocharged rotary powered cars in New Zealand motorsport  history over the next few months and seasons.

Rotary Race Enthusiasts has been launched to provide a race series for all rotary enthusiasts and owners of any type of rotary-powered racing car.

The new category will have a minimum six round series during the summer of 2013 and 2014 and will run five events with the New Zealand Racing Drivers’ League and is hoping to attract twenty cars or more.

It will offer turbocharged and normally aspirated classes and any MSNZ-compliant rotary-powered vehicle from a relatively standard club level racing car to a highly modified garage special that may or may not have started life with rotary power will be eligible and encouraged to run.

Graeme Hill – a man with a name very appropriate for circuit racing and a long-time stalwart of the rotary scene in New Zealand – is the prime mover behind the new category.

“The idea driving the class is to find a stable home for all the fantastic rotary-powered race cars around,” he explained. “The NZRDL weekends will allow all of these cars to come together over the summer and provide a unique category of racing for New Zealand. It will be a class for enthusiasts, and by that we mean both competitors and spectators.

“To be a rotary enthusiast you must be thick-skinned, you have to happy being a minority outcast and you have to have a sense of humour! In a part of the world where motorsport is dominated by V8 machinery, rotaries have been the outcast for ‘all of time’ so the average rotary enthusiast loves shoving one up the V8 boys on lap times. You have to have a sense of humour though, because you never know when that engine is going to let you down. You either like the sound or you don’t and I think that is the defining thing with a real rotary enthusiast, the sound and the simplicity.”

Rotary-powered vehicles have been used in nearly all forms of motorsport in New Zealand over the years from motorcycles and even jet sprint boats as well as circuit racing and rallying, where there has been a strong following going as far back as the 1970s when the power-to-weight ratio benefits of the rotary powerplant were first realised. Hill hopes to attract all vintage of vehicles to the race weekends, with the racing and the community the sole focus.

“The rule book will be relatively simple and the main objective is to get rotary people out racing and competing in their machinery.  The class will tend to be more of a historic class when you consider a large number of the cars available are RX7 models. There will be quite a few Series 1 cars which will now be 30 plus years old, mix in with this a sprinkling of RX2 and RX3 vehicles all of a similar age. I am expecting a number of newer RX7 models, mid 1990s, some RX8s and a sprinkling of non-Mazda chassis with rotary powerplants.

“We are hopeful of getting people like Cameron Jones, Brian Gray, Andy Duffin and Bret Killip to name just a few to join our grid for some meetings outside of their usual commitments with their highly modified contemporary technology cars. It’s not impossible that people like Charlie Evans might like to throw their rally cars around a circuit for a few laps as well.”

Back to Grass Roots……and LOVING IT!

Team Woodstock SuperTourer racer Andy Booth on his experiences recently in club racing with NZRDL class the Motul Honda Cup…

Professional sportspeople can all too easily get caught up in the pressures, scrutiny and cynicism of modern day pro sport environment. You often hear folk talking about competitors (Rugby a great example) needing to ‘get back to grass roots’, to ‘reconnect with the love of the game’ etc. Now I can’t say I’d ever given too much thought to this mantra with regard to motorsport but I recently had an experience that certainly opened my eyes to a few things.

ollyBack in the November issue of Marketplace I wrote about the Honda Cup series and its rapid growth as a cost effective place to go racing at club level. Well as an almost direct result of that article I received a very formal invitation (via Facebook no less) from 17 year old Wellingtonian Oliver Heycoop to be his co-driver in the Honda Cup’s season finale 1 hour race at Pukekohe, which I instantly accepted. I primarily accepted for 2 reasons; Oli had asked so nicely (didn’t want to disappoint him) and it’d be a great chance to get some track time on the new Pukekohe track layout before our V8SuperTourer event (purely selfish).

That race took place recently and a few things quickly became apparent within an hour of arriving at the track for Friday practice. Firstly, I needed to chill out! The atmosphere was so relaxed, these guys were here to enjoy themselves and didn’t need me fussing over tiny details of car set up and race strategy. The approach was more along the lines of “the car’s over there, go and drive it”. This meant there was lots of time available to stand around and talk which leads to the second observation, everyone talks to each other! This might seem like an odd thing to highlight but at the V8 events everyone is so time poor, so focused on their own performance and there’s so many grudges and beefs between teams along the pitlane that often interaction with other competitors is minimal and quite superficial. Not with these guys, time spent chatting with other racers, crew members, family and friends about how things are going, what’s been done to cars since the last race, the weather and just life in general often outweighed the time spent working on and driving cars. It was awesome!

Probably the most interesting point here is that the race itself was a disaster but I still rate it as one of the most satisfying couple of days spent at a track in recent years. An enormous thunderstorm flooded the track half way through. With zero visibility and cars off everywhere the race was abandoned. Doom, gloom and disappointment all round? Nope, fire up the BBQ in one of the garages, open some beers and get back to the important conversations that got interrupted by having to go and race.

The Man Behind the RRE

Graeme Hill – appropriately named for a motorsport enthusiast – is the man behind the new ‘run what ya brung’ rotary powered racing category running with next season’s New Zealand Racing Drivers’ League – RRE. RRE of course, stands for Rotary Racing Enthusiasts and that’s exactly what this class will be all about.  We caught up with Graeme to find out a little more about the new initiative.

What will the class be all about?

The primary idea driving the class is to find a stable home for all the fantastic rotary-powered race cars around. The NZRDL weekends will allow all of these cars to come together over the summer and provide a unique category of racing for New Zealand. It will be a class for enthusiasts, both competitors and spectators.

Has there been much interest since you revealed it?

There really has been a lot of interest and the level of interest is growing by the day. I have had contact from people with current clubmans cars as well as engine builders who want in, people building new cars, Targa competitors and a variety of others. I expect we will see a good number of varied specification cars for the first round. The majority of people who own rotary powered racing cars do not have a place to race over the summer months which are of course the traditional months of competitive racing.

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Will you be racing yourself?

Try and stop me, this has been a vision of mine for some years. A place where all those ‘Rota’ nuts can come together for a weekend, have some good racing, tell some tall stories and get under the skin of anyone who doesn’t love rotaries – and that’s all in good fun of course!. Both my wife Debbie and myself will be there!

Does rotary racing have a good heritage in NZ?

Rotary powered vehicles have been used in nearly all forms of motorsport in NZ from motor bikes to Jet Sprint boats. There has always been a strong following in rally and circuit racing since the early 70s when the power to weight benefits of rotary engines was realised.

Is it a contemporary class or basically a historic one ?

The class will tend to be more of a historic class when you consider a large number of the cars available are RX7 models. There will be quite a few series 1 cars which will now be 30+ years old, mix in with this hopefully a sprinkling of RX2 and RX3 vehicles all of a similar age. I am expecting a number of newer RX7 models, mid 1990’s, some RX8’s and a sprinkling of non-Mazda chassis with rotary powerplants.

I am hopeful of getting people like Cameron Jones, Brian Gray, Andy Duffin and Bret Killip to name just a few to join our grid for some meetings with their highly modified contemporary technology cars. It’s not impossible that people like Charlie Evans might like to throw their rally cars around a circuit for a few laps.

For the uneducated out there, what does a rotary powered car do in terms of revs and power potential?

They rev heaps. Typical numbers are 9000 rpm but some, like Andy Duffin’s 12a powered car is capable of revving out to 11000rpm. Power ranges a great deal, a stock standard 12 powered RX7 makes around 130hp, a slightly modified 13b makes around 200hp. But a full worked 13 PP turbo car will make an astonishing 350+ hp. Not bad for and engine that two average people can lift in and out of the car.

What classes will there be in RRE?

At this stage we are looking at simply two classes, a turbo class and an N.A. class. The addition of a turbo makes a huge difference to power and torque figures that at this time it would seem to be the best split. This may change once we get a clearer picture of our grid makeup but that is our plan initially. Really we just want to get people out racing and having fun. We want it to be clean and cost effective and really what more can you want out of your racing?

RRE CarTell us more about the enthusiasts themselves….what is it about rotaries?

That is a hard one, I think it is about being different. To be a rotary enthusiast you have to be thick-skinned, you have to happy being a minority outcast and you have to have a sense of humour! In a part of the world where motorsport is dominated by V8 machinery, rotaries have been the outcast for ‘all of time’ so the average  rotary enthusiast loves shoving one up the V8 boys on lap times. You have to have a sense of humour though, because you never know when that engine is going to let you down. You either like the sound or you don’t and I think that is the defining thing with a real rotary enthusiasts, the sound and the simplicity.

How does the new class differ from anything out there already for rotary powered cars?

The big difference is that this class will be only rotaries. Currently there is only one class the genuinely caters for rotary cars and that is Pro7. The big difference is that Pro7 caters for tightly controlled class cars, RX 7 only, it is a driver’s championship. This class will cater for any car any engine configuration. Traditionally to race a car like this drivers have to compete in open classes like GTRNZ classes or SS2000. To race in these the rotary gets a displacement penalty and/or a weight penalty. In the RRE open rotary class there will be non of this. Just get a car, drop a rotary in it and go racing.

Will they all be Mazda powered effectively or are there other rotary manufacturers?

I expect that all the cars will be Mazda rotary powered. There are other manufacturers of rotary engines, mainly in the aircraft industry but to my knowledge these are too expensive to compete with Mazda for race engines. There will be various custom made components and some internal parts but the major components will be Mazda.

NZ’s Fastest Racing Machines on League Radar

Fans of single seaters and sports cars could be in for a treat if New Zealand Racing Driver League plans for a new pilot series of all-encompassing Formula Libre events comes to fruition.

The League is proposing to run Formula Libre as a category at its events – which begin on September 28/29 at Hampton Downs and include visits to Taupo and Manfeild on the calendar. The series is planning one grid at each event with two classes – Libre Open and Libre Sport – and hopes there will be plenty of interest with entry fees at just $210 for the weekend and a community-focussed racing environment.

FLibre-540“We know there are a great many cars in garages that might come out on a regular or semi-regular basis if there was a low cost series available to them which included the top North Island tracks,” explained NZRDL organiser Chris Watson, who has run Formula Libre events at Historic Racing Club events in recent years.

“We want to keep a historic-only field at historic events with a cut-off date of 1995 for all cars but at League events there is no reason why we cannot have all out there. That’s what Formula Libre traditionally was about anyway, it’s a Free Formula with no limit to age or speed of the vehicles. If there’s enough interest, we’d love to run it – those machines will always appeal to a race fan and the track is where they belong, not in a shed.”

Libre Open will be open to any single seater race car and that will include Formula 5000, Formula One, F2, F3, Formula Suzuki, Toyota Race Series, Formula Atlantic, Formula Pacific, IndyCar, Indy Lights and Formula Holden.

Libre Sport is open to any sportscar, including prototypes originally destined for tracks like Daytona or Le Mans, contemporary racing sports cars such as models from Juno, Radical and Ligier, as well cars such as Sakers and Lotus 7 inspired makes like Fraser, Caterham and Chevron. Home built ‘specials’ showcasing NZ engineering and ingenuity are also eligible, as are CanAm and TransAm cars.

All cars must simply comply to either the regulations they are currently running to in an NZ series, or to the rules they would have run to in their original series.

2K Cup aims to open doors to young budget racers

The New Zealand Racing Drivers’ League has launched a budget racing class that it hopes will introduce new competitors to motorsport and circuit racing. 

The 2K Cup is designed to provide the lowest price circuit motor racing in New Zealand and will have a firm emphasis on fun and low cost. Cars must cost $2,000 or less, are allowed only safety modifications.   

The new category will form part of the New Zealand Racing Drivers League which will kick off at Hampton Downs on September 28 and 29 and will run five events during its first summer season.  It will include rounds at all of the major North Island circuits – Hampton Downs, Taupo, Manfeild and Pukekohe. 

“The races will be an hour long so the emphasis will not be on outright speed, but on driving skill and getting the basics right,” explained Chris Watson, one of the NZRDL organisers and brains behind the new class. Tyres and brakes will need to be looked after and the track speeds will be quite slow, but, and it is a big but, the racing should be close and will favour the most skilful driver with the best overall strategy. There’s no place for door banging or the wallet waving winner in this class and we very much hope it will attract new racers to the sport.” 

No modifications will be allowed on the engine or drive train of the car or the bodywork and the interior must be retained. The cars can run to minimum Motorsport New Zealand specification which means that although they are not a legal requirement, roll cages and harnesses are strongly advised as well as full safety gear for the driver. Racing seats are also permitted as are aftermarket brake pads (but not calipers) and aftermarket springs (which must be direct OEM replacements). On-board fire extinguishers are a must. 

Equally as importantly, the car must have a warrant of fitness and must have cost its owner $2,000 or less. A receipt of purchase or an AA valuation must be produced during documentation. Dot tyres are permitted but the car’s original specification and diameter wheels must also be retained.

Website for rules and eligible cars   www.2kcup.com