Two modest revisions to the 4.1 km circuit at Highlands Motorsport Park are expected to open up passing opportunities for competitors racing in this weekend’s double-header featuring the popular BNT V8 SuperTourers and New Zealand’s premier wings and slicks category, the Toyota Racing Series.
One is the realignment of the hairpin which previously featured a kink leading into the braking area, funnelling cars into single file and preventing drivers any opportunity to overtake.
Mike Sentch, Highlands’ general manager, says: “Now the kink has been eliminated and the corner widened which will allow a number of different lines coming into the hairpin and make it difficult for drivers to defend their position, thus promoting more overtaking.”
The other amendment saw the circuit straightened coming up onto the bridge, which Sentch says will improve the flow and speed through this section.
Defending V8 SuperTourer champion Greg Murphy is pleased that the Highlands team is willing to make changes to the circuit where needed.
“There was no doubt the lead-in to the hairpin needed modification so it’s great to see it’s been amended as that should open up a lot more opportunities to pick a different line to try and overtake,” says Murph who contests his Mike Pero Real Estate Commodore at Highlands for the first time at this weekend’s opening round of the 2014 BNT V8 SuperTourers championship.
Murphy, like 2013 championship runner-up Hamilton-based Ant Pedersen, raced at the Highlands 101 event last November, so the question is will this experience of the challenges of undulating Highlands track offer the two top-runners any advantage.
Pedersen says the minor modifications are a good sign that competitors’ feedback is being listened to. “While I’ve had some experience of racing at Highlands and the field racing this weekend isn’t as large as it could be, we’ve still got to get out there and do the best job we can. Greg set the benchmark last year and there’s no doubt he’ll be out to do it again this weekend. It should be good and I’m really looking forward to getting out on-track.”
Fresh from two full-on weekends of racing in Invercargill and Timaru, the 24 competitors of the Toyota Racing Series become the first single seater category to race at Highlands.
Sentch says: “It’s going to be interesting to see whether the rise and fall of the circuit on the undulating landscape will impact the Toyota competitors in terms of line of sight.”
The 25-26 January race meeting also the opening round of the UDC V8 Utes and a huge field – 36 entries – of Autosure Central Muscle Cars. Gates open at 9am Saturday and Sunday with a pitlane walk and driver autograph sessions taking place before the on-track action gets underway at 10am. Fans will enjoy great lunchtime entertainment from star Australian stunt rider Matt Mingay, one of few people in the world who stunt-rides a
Harley Davidson; Wellington’s Jake Whitaker and his crew’s choreographed demonstration of stunt trials riding in the top car park and a special fly-by from XX Aviation’s Eastern Block trainer and light attack jet, the Delfin, capable of 820 km/h. There’s also a new spectator area called the Silver Fern Berm, an array of fantastic food and refreshment options, commentary broadcast on a local FM frequency and a top quality programme available on-site. A free bus loops between Cromwell township and the Highlands circuit each morning and afternoon, and tickets are available at the gate or pre-event from the Highlands museum reception before 5pm Friday. For more information, please visit www.highlands.co.nz.