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Race Report: Round 7, 2017/2018 ACC Production Race Series, 7 April 2018, Hampton Downs

Weather: Moderate temperature, mainly fine with some showers in the afternoon.

Qualifying: The final round of the 2017/2018 Production Race series was finally here and 34 competitors had come out to play. Our qualifying session would not only determine our start position for the first race of the day, but also for the 1 hour endurance race at the end. With a few quicker cars not conforming to class regulations running slick tyres etc, we would struggle to top the time sheets but 5th place was still a good place to be. With one finger on the Overall and Class championships, we weren’t looking to risk too much.

Race 1: 8 Lap sprint, qualifying order start.

The car had been primed with Motul’s finest fluids and we’d swapped onto our more endurance focused Yokohama A048 tyres with an eye on the 1 hour race at the day’s end, so had to readjust to the different level of performance compared to the A050’s run the previous round. The car was running great though and after a typical storming Subaru start, we were playing with some of the slick-shod cars up front. Ultimately we couldn’t quite keep pace, but still finished well and ahead of all the eligible cars in the championship.

Result: 4th Overall

Race 2: 6 laps, reverse grid handicap start.

We had a few setup tweaks after the first race that made the car feel even better for the first reverse grid race. Unfortunately the handicapping applied put us almost at the back of the grid and with a 72 second deficit to make up on the first car! A busy track and only 6 laps made it too tough to climb to the top, but with both championships just about ours, we didn’t need to push too hard.

Result: 9th Overall

Race 3: 10 laps, reverse grid handicap start.

The car was going great and we really just needed to finish and bank some more points. The racing gods had other ideas though and ordained a safety car with 3 laps remaining in the 10 lap race. The resulting compressed field and subsequent overtaking frenzy made for a very exciting final few laps. Rather than stay amongst the pack though, we decided to wind up the turbocharger performance and escape. Only one other car (on slicks again) manged to see the chequered flag before us.

Result: 2nd Overall

Race 4: 1 hour Endurance, Qualifying order start.

With the main Production Race Series championships now clinched (both Class and Overall), we could turn our attention to the final race of the season – the 1 hour endurance race. Due to our engine failure at the Taupo round, it was a very long shot to have any chance of retaining our Endurance series crown from last season. That didn’t mean we weren’t going to give it a very good go though! It was an epic 1 hour race, with everything from changeable weather, fading light, sunstrike and a slow pitstop coming into play. The Hall Speed Sport team were awesome throughout and towards the end got the message through to my fatigued brain that I needed to catch up to and pass the car in front to take the lead. That car came into sight 4 laps from the end of the race and even though I was closing, when the ‘last lap’ board came out, there was a lot of work to do. I snapped out of endurance mode, wound the engine up and punched out the fastest lap of the race to steal the victory across the line by 0.074 of a second! Whilst it wasn’t enough to take the Endurance trophy, it was satisfying to win both the endurance races that we finished.

Result: 1st Overall

The 2017/2018 Production Race Series is all done and dusted, we’ve gone one better than last year, winning our class, and the overall series. It has been a huge effort by a lot of people over the whole season. We couldn’t have done it without you all, so thank you to the Hall Speed Sport team, various supporters, Subaru of New Zealand, Motul New Zealand, Yokohama Tyres NZ, Autolign Mt Wellington, Production Race Series Coordinators and all our Facebook ‘likers’.

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