Our colourful travelling circus arrived in Taupo to find a newly revamped Taupo track facility. Not only was there new paint on the buildings and a freshly resealed parking area but bumpy portions of the track surface had been resealed also. This was along with a host of other continual improvements that we’ve seen as Tony Quinn stamps his mark on the facility.
Chris Barendregt had booked and organised a hospitality area for all our partners, sponsors and supporters which proved to be a popular place to get out of the cool wind blowing up from the lake. This would be our final round for the 22/23 season and it was exciting to know there were still a lot of class placings and major category prizes still up for grabs without clear points leaders.
With a lot at stake tensions were high and we saw the usual early jostling for position from the drivers to get a prime spot on the dummy grid before the qualifying session even started. With our big field of twenty-five cars creating a crowded track, it’s important to try and get a clear run at the start of the session in case there’s a red or yellow flag scenario. As it turned out we did see the red flags being waved because of some cones being scattered onto the track, but the session resumed in time to allow most drivers to have a good crack at setting a competitive time.
When the chequered flag eventually brought the session to a close it was Nelson driver, Steven Sullivan, who claimed outright pole position in his 991 Cup car. Our youngest star, Regan Scoullar, carved out a time good enough to place his 997 Cup car beside Steven on the front row, with Daniel Angus in his 996 Cup car and Ethan Hourigan’s Cayman GT4 in the next two positions.
Brent Greer brought along his beautifully prepared air-cooled Carrera and posted a very impressive time to be up amongst the much later model Cup Cars.
The Boxster drivers announced their intention to have their usual close races by having their first and second qualifying positions separated by two hundredths of a second. Rhys Warren claimed his first pole position for the class with Noel Simpson just a heartbeat behind him. Steven Fang had one of his best qualifying sessions and grabbed 3rd, while 4th went to Chris Taylor in his distinctive black and gold car.
As the lights went out there was a clean start at the front with Steven Sullivan leading the pack into the first corner. Ethan Hourigan surged forward from the second row to slot into third place behind Regan Scoullar.
Further behind there was some frantic dodging and weaving after Jim McKernan experienced a clutch problem. Jim got his 996 Cup car rolling but it was obvious by his lack of pace during the race that it was mechanically ailing. Because of that issue at the start the Boxsters had a reshuffle of positions and some drivers gained out of the confusion, while of course, others lost out.
Things settled down quickly though and we were soon enjoying the usual spectacle of Boxsters constantly challenging each other for positions.
As the chequered flag fell it was Regan Scoullar who won the race over Steven Sullivan followed by a brilliant drive from Ethan Hourigan in his Cayman GT4. Hawkes Bay driver Rob Williams followed them and claimed fourth in his 997 Cup car. Cam McCormack was the fastest of the 996s and crossed in 5th position.
Behind them Rhys Warren secured his first Boxster race victory and was followed closely by Noel Simpson and Steven Fang, then Neville Chandler.
The race start was similar to the previous race with Steven Sullivan leading the pack into the first corner being followed closely by Regan Scoullar and a fast-starting Ethan Hourigan. Rob Williams must have decided he wasn’t getting enough attention from the commentators and spectators because he put on a brilliant demonstration of how to take the last set of corners while skidding backwards. Nothing solid was struck and once he was facing in the right direction Rob set off to regain his lost positions, but we could almost see the glow of embarrassment and frustration from underneath his helmet. Cam McCormack had another impressive run in his 996 and finished the race in 4th, in front of two 997 Cup cars. Brent Greer also put on his usual flamboyant display in his tiny air-cooled Carrera and crossed under the chequered flag in 6th place, bettering a couple of Cup cars.
The Boxsters were at their usual entertaining best with tight groups all through the field. We watched a thrilling contest between Noel Simpson, Chris Taylor and Rhys Warren. Each of them had a turn at leading the group but the order kept getting shuffled as one daring pass lead to a retaliatory re-pass.
If you are getting bored by watching processional Formula One or V8 Supercars racing, come and watch our Boxster gladiators. It’s the sort of racing that gets people on their feet and is so thrilling to watch. Critically, Noel held on to be at the front of that group as the chequered flag was waved and it was enough to give him the required points for the class win for the season – with one race still to go.
This was another of our popular 30-minute races. Three of the Cup car drivers, Daniel Angus, Cam McCormack and Regan Scoullar, had opted to go for new Pirelli tyres to give themselves the best chance of winning this race. Right from the start it was obvious Regan was on a mission and he found a way past Steven Sullivan during the first few laps and then set about doing fast consistent times to pull out a margin on the rest of the field. Slightly further back, Cam McCormack was doing the same thing.
Both Cam and Regan had equal points going into the last round of the Endurance Cup series and they were going to throw everything at the opportunity to take home the trophy for this season. As a previous Endurance champion Daniel Angus was also keen to be in the mix and he was making the most of his fresh tyres. We were lucky enough to be treated to a thrilling race-long battle between Daniel and Ethan Hourigan.
The close side-by-side racing between these two was breathtaking. At one stage their outside door mirrors literally overlapped, and must have only been millimetres apart, but they didn’t put a mark on the paintwork of either car. It was a brilliant, skillful and daring high-speed display from both drivers.
There was the usual confusing period for spectators during the middle of the race where some drivers had completed their compulsory pitstop while others hadn’t, but with a few laps to go it became obvious it was going to be close between Cam McCormack and Regan Scoullar. But, at the chequered flag it was Regan who crossed the line in first place with Cam close behind him in second outright. That finishing position was enough for Cam to claim the title of PCNZ race series Champion and by winning this race Regan not only won the Endurance Championship for the season but also the overall Motorsport Championship. At seventeen years old he is our youngest winner in the history of our series.
Daniel Angus secured a well-deserved third place in the race with Steff Chambers, Rob Williams, Steven Sullivan, Robert Dong, Noel Simpson, Marin Vujcich and Brent Greer making up the top ten. It was an exciting spectacle and a very fitting way to finish our 2022/23 season with two titles being decided on the spot. I was proud of all our drivers and their ability to entertain and that was reinforced when the Clerk of the Course told me how much he’d enjoyed watching our race. A rare compliment for any class.
Matt Burton had organised a great spot in central Taupo for us to hold our awards function on the Saturday evening. So, only a few hours after the flag dropped on our last race we gathered for post-race stories, excuses, exaggerations, congratulations and commiserations. Following that we held the cup presentation to all the class winners and the major trophy winners were announced and they were presented with their hard-earned silverware.
We also gave a special mention to the work put into this series by all the race committee and in particular the huge number of hours put in by Chris Barendregt. Our brilliant photographer, Geoff Ridder, was another member of our group who was singled out and thanked because of his incredible efforts to document our series, both on and off the track.
We also took the opportunity to announce that Daniel Angus has graciously accepted the nomination to lead the race committee for the next season.
Our 2022/23 category winners are
None of our racing action would have been possible without the support of our sponsorship partners. Alongside our major sponsor Pirelli we welcomed aboard Sotherby’s this season who have been active participants at our meetings along with sponsorship support from Porsche New Zealand, Continental Cars Tyres, Kensway, and Rapid Dry Towels.
If you’ve ever thought about taking a step up from doing track days and getting a taste of real racing, now is your chance. The Pirelli Porsche Championship is the easiest motorsport series to get started in and one of the most cost effective. You will be welcomed and assisted all the way and you’ll make new life-long friends. Don’t hesitate to contact any of the drivers or the race committee to talk through the possibilities.