NZ SPORTS CAR SERIES, 2017/2018 - Round # 6

Round 6, Great Lakes Taupo
7 & 8 April 2018
With the arrival of the final round of the season, the scene was set. Championship points were vital, positions would most likely change, and reliability could be a factor given the recent number of DNFs. Strategic planning, fine-tuning, tweaking and general talking it up was rife. Perhaps we were in for one or two potentially heart-stopping surprises?
David Glasson only needed to finish one race to ensure first place overall. No doubt he was eager to retire from racing on a high note. We would expect nothing less than a spirited drive from him.
Dean McCarroll arrived on Friday set to challenge David, with a newly tuned engine and ECU setup, he was feeling confident and may be ready to set a new lap record.
Mark Galvin also returned with a new suspension set up. Given his performance earlier in the season, it was quite likely that he would also provide a challenge to David and Dean.
Anthony Barker was not available to drive the Reynard, so Anton Aalders took up the challenge and stepped in to take up the driving duties for one half of Team Barker.
Nick Barker needed to finish ahead of Steve Sharp to keep his first place in the Sports Car Cup.
To win the Prosport class, Robert Hulme could only have one DNF and needed to finish ahead of Nick Barker. He professed at the start of the meeting that he was just driving for points. By the second race, he had undoubtedly put that idea out of his mind.
Mike Limbrick returned with newly trued rotors and a few niggling problems resolved and ready to race. John Mines had time to polish his JRM, relax and enjoy the meeting.
Tim Sillay made a significant effort to get his Mallock ready for the journey North having not raced for several meetings. His car has undergone some considerable underbody modifications, perhaps even bearing a slight resemblance to a Juno? In any case, it was great to have Tim back on track.
Steve Sharp was race ready and waiting for Nick Barker to make a mistake and take the Sports Car cup.
Nick Rae was hoping to repeat his impressive previous meeting’s performance.
Craig Sawyer made a very welcome return to Sports Car Racing and brought his Juno out at his home track after having done an extensive and very rewarding tour of the South Island.
We were also joined by Andy Drummond, in his Alfa Ermoli.
Qualifying & Practice
In practice, Dean McCarroll went out and set a scorching lap time. However, he was the first casualty of the meeting with an engine failure. Piston vs valve. Car in trailer. Sad face…
However, the stage was set for some good racing when Mark Galvin out qualified David Glasson. Interestingly, their second fastest times were identical. The addition of skirts and stiffer springs had improved the handling of the Terra FX more to Mark’s liking.
Robert Hulme and Anton Aalders qualified next. The remainder of the field qualified with similar times forming a closely-knit group.
There was some confusion when Dean McCarroll was shown as qualifying at 1m 37.942s until it was realized that it was, in fact, Mike Limbrick! It was noted by some, that perhaps Dean should have stuck to his original number 24 to avoid confusion!
Race 1
Following discussions between HRC and ourselves, the 1st race was moved to Sunday due to concerns about the following 2K Cup race finishing in the dark.
Mark led the field away from the start into turn 1. However, David was soon able to pass Mark and take the lead on the first lap. Anton was next, ahead of Robert, who was staying true to keeping out trouble and focusing on finishing.
Nick Barker had trouble on the dummy grid with gear selection problems. He started from the pit lane with the car locked in fourth gear to gain points and keep in Championship contention. His best time was a creditable 1m 38.82s.
Lap 2 provided more drama as David slowed through turn 9 with an air compressor failure forcing him to retire. Anton who was following took avoiding action on the inside and in the process collected the 50m marker board. Unaware of this appendage on his rear wing he continued at a somewhat slower pace until he was black flagged.
Meanwhile, Nick Rae was passed by Andy Drummond and Mike Limbrick, though he was able to repass Mike later on as he slowed.
The best dice of the race was between Craig Sawyer and Tim Sillay. Despite repeated attempts, Tim was unable to make a passing manoeuvre stick.
John Mines was also in the mix with Craig and Tim until he had an engine failure.
Coming into the pits, the 50m board fell off the Reynard and Anton was able to rejoin the race a lap down.
Mark crossed the line for his very well deserved first win of the season, followed by Robert and Craig.
Race 2
Mark, having tasted victory set out to do the same in the second race.
David was in hot pursuit and in the later stages of the race had to fend off Robert, who had given up on playing it safe, and was now throwing all caution to the wind! In the process, Robert managed to set a slightly faster time than David.
Anton had an uneventful race and was some distance back in the field.
Tim and Mike both made good starts to lead Craig for three laps. Craig then passed Mike on lap 4 and followed Tim at a short distance from home.
Nick Rae had a spin on lap four letting Steve through.
Mike and Steve swapped places in the later stages of the race with Mike finishing ahead.
Nick Barker had another start from the pits when the same gear problem reoccurred. This time, however, he was able to get the paddle shift working. With all gears available, Nick was able to finish seventh, 4 seconds behind Craig.
The finishing order was Mark, David and Robert.
Race 3
Robert was 1st on the front row of the grid alongside Mark in 2nd, David was in third place. 
Mark was all set to make it three wins in a row and lead the field away. Robert made a good start to be second, followed by David and Anton.
Nick Barker who now had his gear selection problems well and truly sorted, was jumped by Craig and Andy.
Coming onto the main straight, Mark lost power and baulked Robert. David, never one to pass up an invitation, took the opportunity, and the lead. Robert now pursued and harried David to no avail as David looked set on winning his last race. Relief came on lap four as Robert pulled off the track on the infield with a loss of drive.
With Mark on reduced power, Anton pushed the Reynard to overtake him on lap 7.
Nick Barker re-passed Andy on lap 1 and soon after, passed Craig with some close racing through turns 6 to 9.
Mike soon after passed Andy and mounted a strong challenge against Craig until he retired.
Steve was able to stay ahead of Nick Rae until the penultimate lap.
It was a fitting end to David’s racing career to go out with a win. David has been a very active member for a number of years and his good nature, cheeky grin and hard but fair racing style will be missed by us all. We would like to thank David for supporting the club during his racing career and we wish him all the best for the future.
Mark showed that he now has the Terra FX running better than ever and we can expect to see more winning performances.
Robert put in some excellent driving to show the performance of his car and driver combination.
Tim Sillay keeps on getting better each meeting. 
Craig’s return was very welcome, and the benefit on his runs in the South Island was evident.
Andy Drummond was also a welcome addition to the field.
There was some close and competitive racing at the front and in the midfield.
A big thank you to the HRC for running a great meeting.
Many thanks to Mike for organising the dinner at The Bistro. The food was outstanding.