Look back in history Sunday: GTRNZ performs to huge WRC crowd (2010)
In January 2010, Hampton Downs Motorsport Park was officially opened by the Waikato District Mayor, Peter Harris, at the Bruce McLaren Festival.
In May of that year, the new Hampton Downs complex was the venue for two Special Stages on Day 2 of the 2010 Rally New Zealand, part of the World Rally Championship.
To keep the massive crowd that came to the North Waikato circuit entertained, a huge day of motorsport was arranged featuring static exhibitions, displays plus a number of races to support the two appearances of the rally cars.
While the action-packed GTRNZ Championship has concluded for the season, several of the ultra-fast crowd pleasing fire-breathing cars from the class were back on track at Hampton Downs recently as part of a terrific promotion for motorsport.
Twenty-four GTRNZ competitors were amongst seventy-three saloon cars that took advantage of the opportunity to race in front of a crowd estimated to be 20,000 strong, many of them not regular motorsport spectators.
Among the GTRNZ competitors in the saloon car races were several of the classes top contenders such as GT1 Champion Grant Brennan of Tauranga in his Brennan SB2 Corvette, New Plymouth driver John Rae in his Chev Corvette C5 and GT2 Class runner-up Craig Corliss of Auckland in his AU Falcon V8 Supercar.
After qualifying the cars were split into two groups based on their times for racing. The quality of racing was top notch and the massive crowd lapped it up. The drivers too, enjoyed the new Hampton Downs layout. “I’ve never driven a circuit so good. It’s got a bit of everything,” said Brennan after his superb drive through the field in the finale.
The first race from a standing grid start provided a spectacular race. John Rae had qualified second fastest but failed to make the grid while Brennan did not have a good start and was passed by Corliss and Malcolm Udy in his impressive Dodge Viper into the first corner. Tauranga driver Tim Rooney made contact with Chris Coleman, losing the bonnet of his Ford Mustang in the process, forcing him to retire from the race. Kester Olivercrona in his Mazda had a waste-gate come loose which created plenty of excitement when he came into the pitlane where the car burst into flames. Amidst all the action Brennan had surged back into the lead to cross the line ahead of Udy with Corliss third.
The second race featured a handicap format and Brennan started 17 seconds behind the last group of cars to leave ahead of him. The deficit looked insurmountable but the Tauranga driver set about catching the field and then carving his way through to the lead. Again there was action aplenty, a spectacular crash between Stephen Rasmussen, Tony Roberts and Chris Coleman with a further incident between Rae and Kevin Cantwell taking several cars out of the race. However those left on the track provided a great race with Brennan picking his way through the traffic and the carnage to take his second victory of the day. On this occasion Corliss was second and Udy third after a great battle.
The sound of the spectacular field drew the spectators and many of the overseas rally team personnel to the edge of the circuit to watch the cars down the long front straight. The sound of the highly tuned SB2 Corvette of Brennan in particular was unbelievable, the likes of which the visiting rally crews had never heard before.
The racing was brilliant and a real eye-opener for many of the new spectators at the event. Brennan also set a new lap record during the day and reported incredible interest from the crowds inspecting the cars in the pits between the on-track action.
Brennan Takes First Blood At Super Sedan Finale
Sunday, 8 April 2007, 3:54 pm
Press Release: NZ Super Sedan Series
6 APRIL 2007
Brennan Takes First Blood At Super Sedan Series Finale
Tauranga driver Grant Brennan made a great start to the weekend when he won the opening race of the final round of the N.Z. Super Sedan Series at the Taupo Motorsport Centre today.
Brennan started from the back of the grid in his Brennan Corvette SB2 in today's handicap race and drove through the traffic to open his account with a good win. The race was an exciting spectacle with several good battles, especially over the final laps of the race as the field closed up as the faster cars came through the pack.
Brennan's win extended his championship lead with two more races to be fought out tomorrow. His major championship rival, Steve Cox of Auckland, is now out of contention after he suffered a horror start to the weekend. Cox had a big spin early in today's race before the gearbox in his F40 Silhouette cried enough, damaging the crown wheel and pinion. The resulting damage has eliminated Cox from tomorrow's races. Prior to the weekend Cox had explained the team was using an older gearbox after their best unit suffered problems at the previous round.
Several others ran into problems in an incident packed race with David Brennan having a spin on the last corner of the last lap in his Camaro. Up until that point he had been having an excellent dice with Robert Jack in his Escort Chev V8.
Others to have minor indiscretions in the race were Justin McIlroy in his Commodore while fellow Commodore driver Paul Wilton of Mangonui went off three times, recovering on each occasion to finish the race.
However there was no denying Brennan this afternoon as he raced to the win in front of a large crowd. Jack, also of Tauranga, managed to come home in second place while George Sheweiry of Auckland was third in his Ford Mustang. Fourth was Dayne Running in the Chev Camaro seen in the hands of his father Dennis on previous occasions.
Qualifying also had it's share of action as Ross Johnson had a huge lock - up in his Porsche and Nigel Smith a small off in his Commodore. Meanwhle Bruce Goodwin blew an engine in his Ford Capri.
Alan Duncan's Saker performed exceptionally well today after recent modifications.
The Super Sedan Series will contest two more races tomorrow, the second of which is another handicap race.
Published 23 Feb 2010
Scott, the current NZV8 Champion, was having his first outing in the series running in the fastest of the three classes - GT1 - in the Jaguar. The Hamilton driver was the fastest in qualifying on Saturday, won the opening race later that day after a great dice with defending champion Grant Brennan of Tauranga and then won both of Sundays races, coming through the field on both occasions.
After Scott took pole by a substantial margin he and Brennan had a fierce battle in the opening race of the weekend on Saturday afternoon. Brennan managed a new lap record of 55.619 seconds during the battle but his race was run when a problem with the left rear hub on his Brennan SB2 Corvette saw him pitched off the circuit and into the barriers.
After that incident and several others around the track, the race was red flagged giving Scott a win on debut from Dayne Running of Drury, struggling with gearbox problems in his Corvette, and Andy Greenslade of Tauranga in another Corvette.
The following morning Scott won again from a reverse grid format. Brennan who was testing his overnight repair work built up a good lead early on but received a time penalty for jumping the start. However in the car Brennan could only see the black flag so he pitted only to find it was advising him of a 5 second time penalty. Having lost several laps he returned to the fray with a vengeance. Scott had taken the lead by lap 3 and led Andy Greenslade across the line by almost 12 seconds with Calven Bonney third in his Monaro.
The final race, a reverse grid delayed start event, saw Scott and Brennan battling again. Scott got past but Brennan came back at him on the last lap, the final margin just .278 of a second. Papamoa driver Tim Rooney was third in his Mustang despite a collision with Greenslade on a track made slippery by oil. Rooney continued but Greenslade pitted for some race tape to repair the damage before rejoining.
While the spectacular saloons of Scott and Brennan battled at the front of the field, there was plenty of other GT1 action throughout the weekend. Aucklander Nick Chester was rendered a non-starter when he blew the engine of his Commodore Supercar in qualifying while Palmerston North driver Cameron Jones in his turbocharged, rotary powered Camaro encountered engine problems on Saturday. An engine change overnight brought no joy as he struggled with oil leaks on Sunday while Dayne Runnings gearbox problems saw him a non-starter on Sunday.