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Plymouth shines at Ruapuna


The opening meeting of the Canterbury Car Club’s promoted race season at Powerbuilt Raceway (Ruapuna) was billed as Muscle and Drift Mania. The intention had been to co-feature the opening round of the David Reid Homes TraNZam Series with a round of the local JapRace Drift Series, but after the TraNZam category imploded these races attracted only five cars.

Still, the meeting brought in a good-sized crowd, many of them no doubt drawn along by the chance to watch the latest motorsport phenomena, drifting.

It’s encouraging to be able to report on a resurgence of interest in the Kumho South Island Pre 65 category. The 16-car field included nine V8s, and with Glen Brazier having moved on to TraNZam the championship seems wide open.

Wayne Tuffley top qualified with his Ford Mustang, but second qualifier Jason Galbraith – back with his Plymouth Belvedere painted in sinister black – won the first race with his Chrysler-powered behemoth exhibiting plenty of straight line speed.

Wayne Patrick, who has moved up to the A class with a Ford Falcon after years of dominating class B with his Vauxhall Velox, underlined his intention to mix it with the big boys by taking second place ahead of Tuffley.

The top eight starting order was reversed in the second race, but Tuffley soon hit the front from his row three start. His lead didn’t last long, however, as Galbraith shadowed him and then powered by on the main straight.

Tuffley appeared to have second covered, but Patrick then moved past at the hairpin and Steve Ross, back in the ex-Brazier Mustang that he had formerly owned, repeated the trick a lap later.
The Class C cars had their opportunity to shine in the handicap race. Maurie Bone led most of the way in his Ford Anglia, but was caught and passed on the last lap by his old rival Bob Denson (Anglia).

Tony Jeffs had a subdued day by his standards on his return with his Ford Galaxie, but finished third in the handicap.

The Super Six Saloons fielded 15 cars and turned on some entertaining racing. Brendon Lee qualified fastest with his Falcon, ahead of Blair Sutherland’s Holden Commodore. Lee took out the first race from Blair Sutherland and Gary Sutherland.

In the reverse grid race, local car club favourite Clara Bond (Commodore) held off several determined challenges from David Garden (Commodore) to take a popular win with Nathan Blomquist likewise holding out Blair Sutherland at the line.

Blomquist led the first two laps of the final race, but he was a little slow off the right hand segment of the Ess bend section and Blair Sutherland pulled off an unlikely outside pass on the left turn section. Bond capped a good day with a third place finish.

Kerry Bartlett (Mazda RX7 turbo) was the fastest qualifier in the Kumho Sport Saloon category, followed by former motorcycle ace John Hepburn (Mitsubishi Evo) and Mike Small’s Nissan Skyline.

Small had been anticipating the challenge from Bartlett and managed to win the scratch race with Bartlett second and Aaron Black (Toyota Starlet) third ahead of Hepburn.

It was Bartlett’s turn in the second race and he narrowly beat Small, with Hepburn, adjusting well to four wheels, coming home in third place.

The handicapper put paid to the fast men’s chances in the final race, with Bartlett and Small never looking like getting to the front.

Instead, Nathan McAuley and Glen Hodgson ran in slots one and two for most of the distance with their Mitsubishi Evos.

Australian Luke Youlden confessed a liking for Derin Greenslade’s TraNZam Mustang Cobra after qualifying, and set his sights on Kayne Scott’s lap record.

Youlden, getting in some mileage at Ruapuna before the NZ V8 round, set a fastest lap of one minute 20.368 seconds in qualifying but couldn’t get near that in the blustery conditions that prevailed during the racing.

He nevertheless won all three races, with multiple Pre-65 Champion Glen Brazier taking two second places in the ex Craig Gilbert Chevrolet Corvette.

There were plenty of new faces in the Mini 7 and Pro 7 (RX7) races where the two classes ran concurrently.

At the end of qualifying, though, it was the more familiar face of Gary Johnstone at the top of Mini 7 time sheet. Johnstone won all three races but had Kent Yarrall for close company each time.
Shane Paget top qualified in the Pro 7 class, his Mazda being the only example of the newer shape RX7 in the field. Paget duly won two of the races with Jeremy Grice his closest challenger in one of the more familiar series one cars. Mark Elliot won the other race. 

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