A freshly repaired gearbox and a change to its driver line-up for this weekend’s finale of the South Island Endurance Series has Collins Motorsport excited for their chance of victory.
The monstrous V8 Ford Mustang retired just four laps into the last round in Ruapuna. Mainshaft dramas from qualifying had carried themself over into the race and dashed any hopes of a repeat round one win.
But ahead of the series finale this Saturday in Timaru, team boss Paul Collins says he and the team are confident that the issue has been properly rectified.
“It was a gearbox problem probably from giving the engine a beating in the BNT V8s and first round of the endurance series,” Collins told Velocity News.
“But we are not sure what caused the issue. We have brought in all new components and a mainshaft from Australia which Angus Fogg has helped put it all together.
“When we first built the car, we had a lot of trouble with the gearbox. But we thought we had it all fixed, so having another gearbox issue last round was the last thing we expected.
“You can only be as well prepared as you can be, and stuff like that happens. It’s the beauty of endurance racing.
“But I am pretty confident in the repairs and our chances in the final round.”
The team will also be piloting only one driver this weekend. After two rounds of being partnered with experienced BNT V8 driver Nick Ross, Sam Collins will have full control of the one-hour race with Ross ruled out of the event.
But Collins says the change won’t alter the team’s race preparation and not having to deal with any driver changes could prove to be a blessing in disguise.
“Sam is going to drive the whole one-hour race for us this weekend. Nick was unable to attend, so it is not like he is fired, but we feel having just one driver will play into our hands.
“Not having to do a driver change in the pitstops will massively help us. We’ve looked at the teams who don’t have to make a driver change, and all of their pitstops were almost bang on one minute. But those that do have to make changes is quite a bit longer.
“And if a yellow comes out in the first ten minutes we can make our stop early and run the rest of the race. Whereas, those teams with two drivers won’t really want to make a change so early.
“We can also choose to run for the first 50 minutes and pit later. So having one driver will help us.
“Sam’s lap times are also really quick. During testing and the last few rounds, he is about one-tenth off Nick’s times.
“Plus, I think it is going to be another high incident weekend so it will be interesting to see what happens.”
Their round two DNF has also ruled out any hopes of claiming an overall championship. It means Collins sees little point on running the Mustang beyond what it can perform.
But he expects the car to be challenging up the front of the grid in Timaru, identifying Toyota 86 race Chris Henderson as the team’s inter-class rival.
“Do I think we have the pace to win overall? Probably not. But I do believe we will be right up there and have a chance to win in our class.
“The championship is out of our reach so there is no point in killing the car to win something we can’t. We’ll drive it to our potential.
“But Chris Henderson and Marco Schelp will be the challengers we would like to beat. I think those two are really quick and will be the ones to chase.”