Race Report: Round 6, 2018/2019 ACC Production Race Series, 14 April 2019, Hamptons Downs
Conditions: Hot. Dry.
Qualifying: The last race day of the season was upon us and it was a cracker. There were quite a few classes running, including the NZ Superlap series, so our class was combined with the "Racing Saloons" for the day. This made qualifying quite challenging, not only due to the number of cars on track meaning getting a clear run was tricky, but also because the Racing Saloons are basically an unlimited class where full slicks and big horsepower abound. It wouldn't matter for our series points as they're not included but ending up 9th quickest overall out of 35 starters would mean we'd have a few cars to battle past to secure a good result. Once you removed the Racing Saloons from the result, we were 3rd, but it's easier to remove them on paper...
Race 1 (8 Lap sprint, qualifying order start): After a few little tweaks, and as we sat on the grid for the start of race 1, there was a realisation that all the cars in front were rear wheel drive... and whilst it was a sunny day, the track surface was cold at 9.45am. Cue a bit of determination, massive grip from the Yokohama tyres and our all wheel drive, and we jumped into 5th by the first corner. As the race went on I expected to get swallowed up by the heavy artillery behind, but when they hadn't by lap 3 I realised we had some serious pace and pushed on to see what was possible. A race lap PB of 1.14.7, 4th overall and the top step on the Production Race Series podium was the result!
Result: 1st Overall.
Race 2 (8 laps, reverse grid handicap start): The pace from race 1 meant I'd start the reverse grid race from the pit lane and effectively 25th from the remaining 31 starters... a really strong points finish wasn't looking likely, but the car was going great and I'd effectively wrapped up the championship by winning the first race so the pressure was off and I could just enjoy the busy track and close racing.
Result: 10th Overall
Race 3 (1 hour endurance race, qualifying order start): And so it came down the the final race and the deciding 1 hour endurance race to finish the season. I'd won the first two 1 hour races in the season and with the car proving super reliable and well up to the task of a solid hour of racing, I knew a half decent result would be enough. From the flag drop I'd gained the lead in the first lap and was starting to eek out a gap. It was all going great until the safety car came out for another competitors car having issues on track. I used the opportunity to dive into the pits and get our mandatory stop done..... and that's where it all went wrong. After completing the stop, I exited the pits at an indicated 40km/h on the car's speedometer - this turned out to be a different 40km/h than the pit lane speed gun measured meaning we got slapped with a drive through penalty. Not great and pretty frustrating but it would have still been possible to get a good finish. Unfortunately, when I came back out onto the track, it was straight into a 4 car battle which took a few laps to clear - during those few laps, I missed the signboard telling me to come in and as a result was given the black flag... game over. It was a pretty hard pill to swallow and whilst there were a few things that were a bit frustrating about the whole process, ultimately the root cause was driver error in pit lane. That means I loose the endurance series lead, but as they say, "Thats racing".
Despite the big disappointment of the last race, it's been another great season for the Prime Speed Sport team, and subject to final confirmation, we've gone back-to-back and defended the overall series and class championship titles. Massive thanks to the Prime Speed Sport team, various supporters, Motul New Zealand, Yokohama Tyres NZ, Paddon Rallysport, Autolign Mt Wellington, Production Race Series Coordinators and all our Facebook followers. Its time to put the car in the air and finish the development we have planned that'll realise its full potential. Stay tuned for updates and other on track hijinks!!
Thanks to Dave at Autostore and Janice Smith Photography for some of these great pics.