Timaru’s Will Kitching took the Round 2 win of the Nexen Tyre NZ Mazda Racing Series South Island Championship, which was fought out as part of the massive Thunder Down Under meeting at Levels Raceway in Timaru over the weekend.
The class provided three exciting races with a different winner in each as Kitching, Matt Dodd and championship leader Chris White Jr each secured a race victory.
White had set the pace in qualifying ahead of Kitching and Dalan Price, while debutant Mac Templeton had set an eye-catching fourth fastest time before being demoted three grid positions for causing a red flag when his car stopped on track early in the session.
White led Saturday’s opening race until he ran wide at the end of the back straight while experiencing a brake issue. Kitching pounced and went on to take his maiden series victory in just his second weekend in the championship. White recovered quickly to place second, with Price third and Brent ‘Bones’ Collins fourth in his ‘Batman’ RX7.
The impressive Templeton was next ahead of Aucklander Ant Tork and another impressive debutant Arthur Broughan of Tuamarina near Blenheim.
Hamish Collins, brother of Brent Collins, was the first Series 1 RX7 home in eleventh place, while Dodd lost several laps after contact sent him off the circuit and caused a puncture.
The following morning, Dodd had a pole on the reverse top ten grid and, apart from being headed off the line by Auckland’s Steve Spear, was quickly into a lead that he would hold all the way to the chequered flag. Kitching and White were the big movers, the former reaching second place on Lap 3 and White making it to third a lap later.
Kitching was making slight inroads into Dodd’s lead but then came under huge pressure at the end from White, which in turn eased the pressure on Dodd, who crossed the line 1.412 seconds ahead. Kitching held on for second, with White third, having lowered his own lap record to 1 minute 10.266 seconds.
Price was fourth ahead of Elton Wichman of Auckland, Brent Collins, Tork, Broughan and Andy French. Hamish Collins was again the first Series 1 RX7 in twelfth place. Mac Templeton’s car had ground to a halt with a throttle sensor issue on the warm-up lap, but he recovered to place eleventh.
Kitching had pole with White alongside for the finale, and the latter was in the lead after the first corner and drove away to a good win from the pole-sitter.
The lead duo both ran fairly lonely races, and it was the battle for third place that caught most of the attention, with Price holding off Dodd over the ten-lap distance. Dodd threw everything at it, even taking to the grass at the last corner attempting an outside pass.
Templeton was next ahead of Tork, followed by Wichman, Brent Collins, French and Broughan, who started from the pitlane with gearbox troubles. Hamish Collins was again the first series 1 car in twelfth place.
Kitching took the round win with 124 points from White who maintains his championship lead with 121 points from the round.
The next round of the South Island Championship, which is also the opening round of the National Championship, takes place at Euromarque Motorsport Park at Ruapuna in Christchurch over the weekend of 10/11 February.