The 2017 Carters Tyres South Island Endurance Series explodes into life this weekend with its annual trip to the world’s southernmost race circuit at Teretonga Park, Invercargill for the opening round of its Three Round Series. With qualification for the New Zealand Endurance championships on the line as well as big prizemoney and more importantly, Series bragging rights, fans are in for another electrifying season.
Some of the fastest endurance cars in New Zealand head south for the Series opener and it will be a sight to behold as they line up on the high-speed Teretonga circuit. And although it is likely to again be a frantic battle at the front of the pack, it is finishing races, performing well & accumulating championship points that is the key to endurance success.
The series is excited to continue the multiyear partnership with Carters Tyre Service and along with associate supporter Allied 24/7/Fuel the series again has a significant prize money pool to pay out to series competitors. “For 2017 we have increased payment to each of the class winners” said SIERDC Secretary Chris Dunn. “We have also formed a new rookie scholarship award, plus will give away even more money as a spot prizes, and those spot prizes are in addition to the Michelin race tyres and products from ENDLESS brakes that are also given away” he said. ”There is again an amazing quality of cars, with yet again a large number of new cars joining the Series.”
Although the podium is likely to be filled from the glitzy Class D & E for GT and GT3 type machinery, with defending Series champions Sam Fillmore/Danny Stutterd a late withdrawal in the BMW M6 GT3 it could be the Porsche brand set to reclaim the top step of the podium with 2015 Series champions Angus & George McFarlane campaigning the striking Porsche 997 Cup R, whilst Touring Car legend Johnny McIntyre teams up with Simon Gilbertson to debut the stunning Manthey spec Porsche 991 MR. Johnny will be looking to go one place better in 2017 after finishing both the 2015 and 2016 Series’ in the bridesmaid position. Their main opposition will come from the Series sponsored Mercedes AMG SLS GT3 of Matt & Dwayne Carter, who will be looking to take out the title for a third time, and 10 years after their first win. Team principal Garry Carter is launching an all-out assault on the Series with their ex-888 Racing V8 Supercar running in the 1hr Series with the team focused on clinching both titles. Add into this class the immaculate Porsche 991 Cup car of Scott O’Donnell/Allan Dippie and the Falcon V8 SuperTourer of Paul Rickerby/Graeme Rhodes, plus up to 4 more GT3 spec cars likely for the Series second round at Ruapuna, and it will be another awesome season.
With the factory built and space framed cars in the exotic D & E classes, Class C (3501cc +) is dominated by the more traditional ‘home-built’ Kiwi Hybrids. The top 3 cars from the 2016 Series all return with Craig & Scotty McDermid returning with the incredible twin turbo Toyota 86 to take on 2015 Class winners Darryl Barrett/Hamish Frew in their Mazda RX7 V8 and the 427ci V8 powered Falcon for ex Tranzam champion Grant Silvester & regular Australian visitor Perry Scarfe. There is also a BMW V8 for ex touring car & RX7 champion Eddie Bell who teams up with young gun Jordan Michels and a BMW 135iTT for Rob Williams/Scott Harrison.
The battle for Class B (2001cc -3500cc) 2 honors will be as hotly contested with the return to the 3hr for Pat & Ryan Heagney’s rapid Toyota AE86, who will go head to head with 2014 & 2016 Class champion Mike Driver/Phil Hood in the turbocharged Seat Leon Supercopa. Last season also seen the debut of the pair of VW Golf R cup cars for Tim Mackersey/Barry Moore and also Ron Mackersey/Warren Good, who again reunite many years after starting endurance driving together. Also look out for the class spec Mazda RX8 for multiple NZ RX7 champion Jarrod Parmenter/Andrew Brunton.
The final class is Class A (0-2000cc) and this class has rapidly expanded and sees a huge field of cars for 2017. Class favourite include the current NZ Class A Champions Arron & Stu Black’s ex-World Touring Car BMW E46 but will they will face stiff competition from the Honda S2000 of Rodney & Michael Parkes. With so many new cars in this class there are many unknown factors. New entrants include two father & son teams being Darryl & Terence Phillips (Integra) and Grant & Matt Moore (Toyota Altezza) and another new Integra for Mark Taylor/Vaughan Moloney. However as we all know it’s about finishing races & collecting points and this is where the Peugeot 106 of Tim Stanton/Leyton Tremain and the 2K Cup spec Mercedes 190E of Victor Cattermole/Matt Holland will keep everyone in this class honest through reliability if not speed, the latter machine having recently proven itself by completing the grueling 8 hour 800km Dunlop 800 2k Cup event.
So this season is an opportunity for Porsche to return to the top step of the SI podium with the more recent NIERDC & SIERDC endurance races ruled by other marques. With even more full spec FIA GT3 cars set to compete than ever before and with big prizemoney as well as qualification to the NZ Endurance Championship event, there certainly is more than just South Island Endurance silverware on the line.
After this weekends round at Teretonga, the Carters Tyres SI Endurance Series moves to Mike Pero Ruapuna, Christchurch on Saturday 1st October before the Series grand finale at Levels Raceway, Timaru on 15th October, where the overall 3 Hour Series champion will be awarded the prestigious South Canterbury Toyota Cup as the winner of the 2017 Carters Tyres SI Endurance Series.
Qualifying and the race at Teretonga are on Saturday 9th September, with the 3hr race expected to start at 1:30pm. There are still some entry spots still available and for more information on the South Island Endurance Series, entries, or to be added to the South Island Endurance Racing Drivers Club’s e-mailing list, please contact Chris Dunn via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org ph 021-107-9293. Club information can also be found on facebook at www.facebook.com/sierdcnz For more information on the series sponsor Carters Tyre Service, please visit www.carterstyres.co.nz