Big V8 beast tackles enduros
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New Zealand’s growing endurance-racing landscape is dominated by a swathe of European exotica, headlined by a raft of GT3-based cars from around the world.
But, there’s also an undercurrent of V8s emerging from the woodwork; few of them more wild than Nick Chester’s ex-V8 Supercar.
The Holden VZ Commodore was once part of the ambitious transtasman Team Dynamik outfit that debuted in the Supercars Championship in 2003 with the Kiwi line-up of Simon Wills and the late Jason Richards.
However, financial issues meant they had to pull the plug a few years later, leaving one particular Commodore chassis unraced.
Chester picked it up, modified it to a much higher spec, and it’s raced in GTRNZ’s fire-breathing GT1 class since.
“When we first built the car, we blew gearboxes, we blew engines, we blew pretty much everything. We’ve basically had to rebuild and redevelop that car many times over,” Chester said.
“It’s been a long road to getting it reliable, but I think we’re getting close.”
Chester’s Commodore is in for a change of tack, as one of the latest cars to sign on for the ENEOS North Island Endurance Series.
The 2017 season’s second round takes place today at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, with Chester and his co-driver Cameron Jones (a fellow GTRNZ regular) likely to be among the front runners in the headlining three-hour event.
“The sprint-racing format through summer; I’ve enjoyed it for a long time,” Chester said. “But it’s just getting harder. We’ve got a young family now, so doing the three endurance rounds each year suits me.
The Team Dynamik Holden Commodore V8 Supercar formerly driven by Kiwis Jason Richards and Simon Wills. Photo / Getty Images
“What also appealed were the good cars we had to race against. Certainly helps having a bit of competition out there.”
Debuting the big V8 at the series opener in Taupo, Chester and Jones claimed an impressive fourth-place finish — the first non-GT3 car across the line. Hopes are they’ll tighten the margin to the leaders this weekend.
Having driven a GT3-machine in the past (Glenn Smith and John De Veth ‘s SaReNi Camaro), Chester knows it won’t be easy.
“Down the main chute of Hampton Downs, the Camaro does about 245km/h, whereas we do about 275km/h in the Holden.
"But, at the slowest point of turn one, the Camaro is about 30km/h faster than the Holden. The way they make up the time is very different.
“But in an endurance race you never know. The fastest car doesn’t always win.”