Summerfield springs Pro 7 surprise
A bumper line-up of cars turned out for the opening round of the national Pro 7 (Mazda RX7) championship at Ruapuna on January 6. The series will be contested over four rounds.
Local Damon Summerfield surprised the top North Island contenders by leading the Pro 7s throughout the first race, leaving pre-race favourite Brett Killip (Hamilton) to finish second.
In the reverse top 10 grid race, Phil Blythe (Wanganui) gradually drew clear of Callum Taylor to win, and in the final race Summerfield again demonstrated his speed at Ruapuna by heading off Killip and Taylor.
Three drivers were prominent in the Pro 7 Plus category for later-model RX7s.
Andy Duffin from Pukekohe won the first race, but faced a strong challenge from Shane Paget (Rangiora), the only South Islander.
Auckland’s Bruce Gay, who had finished third in the opening race, won the reverse top 10 grid race, with Paget second and Elton Wichman (Auckland) third. In the third race, Paget led all the way with Duffin getting the better of a tussle with Gay over third.
The New Zealand Championship Super Six Saloon races provided perhaps the best racing of the Lady Wigram meeting.
Top North Island driver Shane Wenzlick struck a blow by qualifying fastest from Christchurch’s Nathan Blomquist and current champion Blair Sutherland who returned to the category at the wheel of a Falcon rather than the Commodore he used last season. Formula Ford front-runner Caine Lobb qualified fourth.
Wenzlick and Blomquist fought neck and neck in race one, but Blomquist was ahead of Wenzlick at the chequred flag with Todd Sutherland third. In the reverse top 10 race, Stephen Bennenbroek upheld Ford honour by winning ahead of the Sutherlands.
In the final race, Bennenbroek and Todd Sutherland battled for the lead with Blomquist, but the ever-improving Blomquist went around the outside of Bennenbroek on the run to the line and snatched a narrow victory.
A combined field of North and South Island cars produced a good spectacle in the New Zealand OSCA Championship round. Current Champion Colin Dawson was an unfortunate non-starter after damaging his Mazda RX7 V8 engine in qualifying.
Fastest qualifier Andy Greenslade won the first race in his Mustang Cobra, after a stern challenge from Paul William’s Camaro.
In the double flag-drop second race, Austin McKinley (Camaro) led for much of the race until he was overwhelmed by the Mustangs of Tim Rooney and Greenslade.
The final OSCA race was a handicap with Raymond Hart being given too big a start in his Skyline GTR and leading for most of the way from Geoff Washbourne (Commodore). Chris Hatton (Camaro) got by Washbourne with a lap to run to take second.