Twelve months of hard slog paid dividends for Andre Simon and his team at the South Island Endurance Series opener earlier this month.
Simon won the Class A and B one-hour race after pouncing on a late safety car.
The victory meant a lot to Simon. Only a year earlier had Covid-19 meant a delay in getting a new engine for his Toyota 86.
Faced with either withdrawing from the series or doing a complete engine and gearbox swap in four weeks, Simon “foolishly” opted for the latter.
“It went about as well as you’d expect,” he told Velocity News.
The car was unreliable and nowhere near the performance Simon would have liked it to be.
But come one year later, and the fates had turned Simon’s way.
“A lot of hard work went on from the guys.
“All we wanted was to see the chequered flag four times this year.
“Highlands came as a bit of a surprise. We had some luck with the safety car.
“But happy to have some redemption.”
The Toyota 86 Simon races is fitted with a two-litre Nissan SR20 VE turbo motor. It could be the only one of its kind racing in this part of the world.
And it is not without its teething issues, as Simon discovered the hard way during a Highlands Sprint Series round on Sunday.
“As I came up to the bridge, I had an ABS failure and the car spun onto the grass at 200kp/hr.
“We later found the alternator was overcharging.
“I was very lucky the car turned right and onto the grass. Otherwise, it could have ended much worse.”
Simon says it was fortunate the failure occurred at Highlands and not at Levels Raceway this weekend, which can be a less forgiving circuit for high-speed spins.
The car picked up diffusor and splitter damage as it bounced haphazardly across the infield. Those have been fixed, and the alternator was replaced.
This weekend’s second endurance round at Levels will be Simon’s first time racing on the Timaru circuit, and he is preparing as best he can.
“I’ve a done few hundred laps on rFactor,” he laughed. “Maybe that’ll help.
“But I am backing myself to adapt fairly quickly this weekend.
“We maybe won’t benefit from our horsepower as much as we did at Highlands against the TCR cars.
“But we have made some changes to the suspension set-up to hopefully extract more mechanical grip. We have a few tricks up our sleeve.”
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