Motorsport Wrap: NZers successful across Asia
Malaysia and Japan success, awards handed out in Auckland, and Lamborghinis going boom
While none of the world's 'big' circuit-racing championships were in action this weekend just gone (ironically apart from Nascar, which visited its second road-course circuit of 2016), there were still plenty of Kiwis out there racing abroad. Not to mention the action on home soil. Here's how they all went.
Faine Kahia nails his Formula 4 debut
Kahia, third from left, pictured on the Sepang podium. Photo / Hazrin CRIC/Meritus
The Giltrap Group don't simply back anyone, so their recently announced support of Faine Kahia says a lot about the youngster's talent.
He made his Formula 4 South East Asia debut over the weekend, and effectively knocked it out of the park. While he didn't claim any wins, Kahia did earn himself five straight podium finishes across the category's five races at Malaysia's Sepang circuit.
"Overall, I'm quite happy with my performance this weekend, as I was quite consistent throughout all the races as I managed to collect five podium finishes out of the six that was held," he said.
"There were quite a few interesting battles in all the races today but I also know that there are a few areas that I need to work on. But what a good ending to the opening season of the Formula 4 South East Asia Championship.”
Earl Bamber narrowly denied podium
Photo / Porsche
Former Le Mans champion Earl Bamber was in action for the latest round of the IMSA WeatherTech United SportsCar Championship at Road America in ... America.
Qualifying in fifth, he and co-driver Frederic Mackoweicki ended up finishing fourth in the GTLM class after being as high as second. Though he and Mackoweicki put in gritty drives, they ultimately didn't have the pace to challenge the race leaders.
Chevrolet's Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin ended up crossing the line in first, taking the win after a late-race battle with the leading Ford GT of Richard Westbrook — himself a former Porsche ace.
'Mad Mike' shows promise
Photo / Larry Chen, Formula Drift
The question on the lips of his fans this season has been; would 'Mad Mike' Whiddett perform better in this season of Formula Drift if he had one of his usual cars underneath him instead of his current Mazda MX-5?
The answer is unknown, though the Kiwi was able to take his maiden Formula Drift win at Ebisu Circuit in Japan with his 'HUMBUL' Mazda RX-7 earlier this year — looking as good as he's ever done while doing so.
For the latest round of the pro series at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Washington, Whiddett ported over some of the set-up from the HUMBUL machine to the 'RADBUL' MX-5. And it looked like the changes had made an impact, with Whiddett setting a competitive 89 in qualifying. But after pulling Alec Hohnadell for his top-32 battle, he was ultimately knocked out of the running.
Cassidy salvages impressive top five, Lester's Super GT debut delayed
Photo / sourced
Neither Nick Cassidy nor Jono Lester's weekend at round four of the Japanese Super GT championship at the iconic Fuji circuit started well. Cassidy's au-backed GT500 Lexus RC-F struggled in qualifying, only managing a 10th-best time.
Lester meanwhile had his debut in the series cut short after an engine failure for his Direction Racing GT300 Lamborghini Huracan sidelined the entry. He will have to wait until the Suzuka 1000km at the end of the month to clock some competitive Super GT miles.
But in the race, Cassidy proved to be one of the stand-out drivers. By the end of his stint in the car, he had driven from 10th to fifth place and the leading Lexus on the road. Passing the car to co-driver Daisuke Ito, the pair were able to retain fifth and record their second top-five of the season.
The biggest incident was a crash for former Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour winner Katsumasa Chiyo. Piloting a GT500 Nissan R35 GT-R, Chiyo appeared to have some form of failure at turn one. The failure saw him and his car leave the road at a significant rate of knots, before slamming into the tyre wall on the outside the circuit. Thankfully he was uninjured.
Mike Young sixth overall on debut with BYD
Photo / APRC TV
Mike Young traded in the keys to his Group N Subaru Impreza for the keys to a BYD Qin Hybrid rally car for the Chinese leg of the 2016 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship.
That might sound a little bizarre, and only sounds more bizarre when you consider that Young subsequently handed in any ability to claim any APRC series points due to the BYD falling under a different set of regulations. But BYD, or 'Build Your Dreams', are one of the largest car makers in China and one of the largest producers and sellers of electric and hybrid cars worldwide.
In that sense, it's great to see Young buddying up with a brand that could well become one of the next to break out from the Chinese market. After sitting seventh overall in the standings early in the rally, Young and co-driver Longxi Zhang finished sixth overall at the end of the rally.
“Thanks to everyone for making this happen — the car is certainly different but I really enjoyed driving it!” said Young.
“Hopefully I can drive it again in future.”
Surprise winner at Catlins Coast Rally
Photo / Euan Cameron
The snowy conditions that hampered much of New Zealand over the weekend also effected the annual Catlins Coast Rally. In treachous conditions, many of the leading runners struggled — opening the door to 20th seed Vaughan Edie and co-driver Tony Johnston [pictured].
After taking the lead following stage two, they never looked in doubt from that point on in their Mitsubishi Evolution VIII. They eventually won by more than 30 seconds from Andrew Graves and Derek Ayson.
“I’m stoked. I never thought we could win it,” said Edie.
“The conditions definitely helped but we will take it! It was definitely eyeballs wide open and a wee bit of a lottery. Some parts were horrible. You just had to get through. I have seen the highs and lows and I would rather be at this end of things.”
Volunteers honoured in Auckland
Photo / Simon Chapman, velocitynews.co.nz
Without volunteers, motorsport worldwide would suffer big time. So events like last Saturday night's sixth-annual Motorsport Club awards night are a well deserved way to signal that appreciation.
Held at Auckland City's Hilton Hotel, the event attracted more than 100 attendees. Included in them were a couple of former domestic racing champions in Angus Fogg and Shane Drake, as well as the Vice President of the FIA Morrie Chandler.
Here are the headlining names that were honoured on the night:
Volunteer of the year: Karen Michie, CRO
Racing Ray Williams Cup: Anna Scott, Chief Flag
David Smith Memorial Trophy: Brett Davy, Clerk of Course
Delwyn Elliott Memorial Trophy: Mark Lawson, Assistant Chief Flag
Shayne Harris Trophy for under 21s: Caitlin Day, Grid Marshal
Read more about Faine Kahia in Sepang: race one / race two and three / race four and five
Read more about Earl Bamber's IMSA weekend: Qualifying / race
Read more about 'Mad Mike' Whiddett in Washington
Read more about Cassidy and Lester at Fuji: Qualifying / race
Read more about Mike Young in China
Read more about the Catlins Coast Rally
Read more about The Motorsport Club awards night