Friday, Oct 4 04:46pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Keeping up with the Kiwis, your guide to the action: October 4–7

Sports cars, touring cars and rallying: there’s a bit of something for everyone to enjoy this weekend.


Brendon Hartley leads the way in the FIA World Endurance Championship in Japan followed closely followed by Hayden Paddon who returns to the FIA World Rally Championship in Great Britain.


Nick Cassidy makes his DTM debut with Lexus in Germany while Rowan Shepherd continues his endurance campaign in the TCR SPA 500 in Belgium. 


All times listed below are New Zealand Standard Time. 



Brendon Hartley 

What: FIA World Endurance Championship
Where: Fuji Speedway, Japan
When: R SUN 3:00 PM
How to follow: SKY Sport

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing returns to Japan seeking a fourth consecutive victory on home ground in the 6 Hours of Fuji, the second round of the 2019-2020 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season.

Since the team’s last visit to its home track, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing has won Le Mans for a second time and the 2018-2019 teams’ and drivers’ World Championships. It heads to Japan on the back of six consecutive race victories, including the first win of the new season at Silverstone last month.

The #7 TS050 HYBRID crew of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López took maximum points in Great Britain following an exciting four-hour battle at the front, but this triumph comes at a cost for them at Fuji Speedway.

As championship leaders, they will have incurred the maximum success handicap of 1.4secs per lap, while Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley in the #8 TS050 HYBRID are penalised by one second per lap at Fuji Speedway.

The success handicaps come in addition to the established Equivalence of Technology, which already means the TS050 HYBRIDs are both up to 108kg heavier than their non-hybrid LMP1 rivals, who additionally are allowed to use up to 61% more fuel.

That means the large Japanese crowd, some of whom are part of the TS050 HYBRID powertrain development at nearby Higashi-Fuji Technical Centre, can expect an exciting race as TOYOTA defends its near-perfect record at Fuji Speedway since returning to WEC competition in 2012, having won every race except 2015.

This weekend’s race marks the final time for the iconic TS050 HYBRID to compete in Japan. Fuji Speedway has a special place in the history of TOYOTA’s most successful endurance race car as the location of its first victory, in 2016 when Kamui Kobayashi took a tense victory alongside Mike Conway and Stéphane Sarrazin. The car, which has won a total of 14 WEC races since then, is undefeated at Fuji Speedway.

Practice begins on Friday with three hours of action split into two sessions before qualifying on Saturday. Racing begins with a relatively early 11 am start for WEC’s return to a six-hour format following the season-opening 4 Hours of Silverstone.

Words / TOYOTA GAZOO Racing



Hayden Paddon

What: FIA World Rally Championship
Where: Great Britain
When: Friday through Sunday
How to follow: WRC Plus

A return to the top flight FIA World Rally Championship beckons for Hayden Paddon, but he’ll have to complete prologue first.

Paddon re-joins the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team for the second time this year as he looks to get his World Rally Championship aspirations back on track.

An attempt to make a one-off return to the WRC resulted in a well-documented crash in preparation for Rally Finland that ultimately brought those hopes to an early end.

This weekend Paddon will compete in Wales Rally GB in the WRC feeder series; WRC 2. Paddon’s pedigree is known, but he’ll have some stiff competition.

It won’t be a walk in the park by any means. Kalle Rovanperä, just 19 years old, leads the WRC 2 standings in a Skoda Fabia R5 EVO and has four wins to his name this season.

Mads Østberg of Norway, another WRC outcast, will race for Citroën in a C3 R5. He has two wins to his name this season and lies second behind Rovanperä. Paddon’s stablemate Gus Greensmith lies third in the standings, also with two wins in the Ford Fiest R5 MK II.

Jan Kopecký of the Czech Republic returns as well, but the big focus will undoubtedly be on the Solberg trio; Henning, Petter and Oliver. All privately entered, Henning will race a Skoda Rabia R5 while Petter and young Oliver will drive a Volkswagen Golf R5 respectively.

Despite the strong opposition and a relatively lacklustre history at Wales Rally GB, Paddon has high hopes for this weekend.

CLICK HERE to read the full preview



Nick Cassidy

Where: Hockenheimring, Germany
When: R1 SUN 12:00 AM | R2 MON 12:00 AM
How to follow: Live Stream (R1 / R2) | Live Timing

The grand finale of the DTM season will be a star-studded affair – both on and off the racetrack.

Although both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles have been sealed (going to René Rast and Audi, respectively), the sporting focus at this weekend’s DTM event will centre on the duel for the teams’ championship.

Not only that, but the high-profile guest appearance of the Japanese SUPER GT series, spearheaded by former Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button.

Button, who will race his Honda NSX-GT as reigning SUPER GT champion, competes alongside two-driver entries from Lexus and Nissan.

However, Button won’t be the sole world champion present at Hockenheim: he’ll be joined by fellow Grand Prix title-winners Emerson Fittipaldi (Brazil) and Nico Rosberg (Germany), who are both visiting this weekend.

Additionally, two-time World Rally Championship champion Walter Röhrl (Germany), and Hans-Joachim Stuck, the 1985 World Sportscar champion and 1990 DTM champion, will both be in action in the DTM’s busy support race programme.

Ahead of the DTM’s November visit to Japan for the ‘Dream Race’ at Fuji Speedway, three SUPER GT manufacturers – Honda, Nissan and Lexus – will race at Hockenheim this weekend.

The best-known of the five-driver line-up is undisputedly Button, who won the SUPER GT drivers’ title in 2018, his maiden season, partnered by team-mate Naoki Yamamoto (Japan) with his Honda NSX-GT.

Racing for Nissan: Ronnie Quintarelli (Italy), SUPER GT’s most crowned champion with four drivers’ titles to his name, and Tsugio Matsuda (Japan), who has won the championship twice, partnering Quintarelli in 2014 and ’15.

The 2017 SUPER GT champions, Nick Cassidy and Ryō Hirakawa (Japan) will compete for Lexus. Nissan and Lexus will each race with two drivers – one per race; Honda will race with just one driver.

Words / DTM


Rowan Shepherd

What: TCR SPA 500
Where: Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
When: R SUN 2:00 AM
How to follow: TCR TV

This weekend, the first-ever TCR SPA 500 gets underway at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, with Dutch organiser CREVENTIC expecting a warm reaction from the international crowd.

The program begins on Wednesday 3rd October with a parade from Spa-Francorchamps’ start-finish straight to the neighbouring Malmedy city centre. Upon arrival, fans will have the opportunity to meet drivers and get up close and personal with the TCR grid.

Preceded by the official support series for the TCR SPA 500 – including the Supercar Challenge, the Mazda MX-5 Cup, and the Ford Fiesta Sprint Cup – Qualifying takes place on Saturday 5th at 11.00 hrs, four hours before go-time. The race then runs uninterrupted until the completion of 500 laps of the 7.004km Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, or after 23 hours has elapsed.

“This will be a very exciting weekend for us,” explained CREVENTIC’s Ole Dörlemann. “So much work has gone into this event from so many people across CREVENTIC, WSC and Spa-Francorchamps, and we’re very happy with the support from all of our competitors too. We can’t wait for the green flag to drop on Saturday to celebrate the realisation of a dream!”

WTCR legend Tom Coronel leads a star-studded driver line-up and is set to be joined on the grid by Aurélien Comte and Mikel Azcona – TCR Europe champions in 2017 and 2018, respectively – and Belgian hero, Vincent Radermecker, among many others.

Words / TCR SPA 500