After the initial shots were fired in the respective North and South Island Championships of the Nexen Tyre Mazda Racing Series late last year, competitors from both islands will gather in Christchurch this weekend for the opening round of the New Zealand (NZ) Championship for the class.
As well as points towards the four round national title race, the weekend will also feature the second round of the South Island Championship as the action unfolds at Mike Pero Motorsport Park at Ruapuna in Christchurch.
Rangiora driver, Shane Paget, shapes up as a favourite for opening round honours after emerging as the points leader of the South Island Championship after the first round last November. However, he will have to overcome a very strong field with close, hard racing, the expectation across all three races.
Paget’s fellow Cantabrian’s, Matt Dodd, Dalan Price and Chris White all loom as big threats after all three were extremely competitive at the opening round of the South Island Championship. Dodd was a race winner at that event while fifteen-year-old rookie White qualified fastest for his first race start on that occasion.
The North Island contingent is a strong one with Matt Horne of Masterton having the distinction of sitting second in the points of the both the North and South Island Championships currently. Horne is a frequent visitor to the South Island rounds while he is joined by some of the other top North Island runners this weekend.
Sam Dashfield, Flynn Mullany, Karl Gaines and Warren Crowther are all within the top six of the North Island points while Steve Brown will benefit from his time racing in the South Island last season.
Ken Thompson of Dunedin will be part of the field in his Series 1 RX7 in the Historic Class.
Series spokesperson, Lindsay Dodd says, “it is a fantastic field and any one of several drivers could take the spoils. Shane Paget may well start as favourite. He has a lot of experience at Ruapuna and is a shining star. However, the North Islanders will come prepared.”
“Flynn Mullany is one of their series hotshots while Sam Dashfield has his eyes on the championship. It will be an intriguing weekend.”
The Nexen Tyre Mazda Racing Series competitors will have three test sessions on Friday before a further test session on Saturday morning followed by qualifying and the first of three races over eight laps that afternoon.
Sunday features two races for the class, the first over 10 laps from a reverse top ten grid in the morning with an 8-lap race with grid positions based on weekend points for the finale.
Main image: Mad Angles Photography | Words: Lindsay Beer