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Herne leads Aus vs NZ TA2 Challenge at Highlands Park

Posted on 17 February 2024
Herne leads Aus vs NZ TA2 Challenge at Highlands Park

(Joel Hanks) Lismore’s Nathan Herne continued where he left off from last weekend dominating practise today for Round 2 of the FN Roading TA2 Trans-Tasman Challenge at Highlands Park on New Zealand’s South Island today.

Despite missing the first practise session due to power steering issues, Herne bounced back to be fastest of the day in the Peter Robinson owned Howe Motorsport Enterprises Dodge Challenger.  Eighteen-year-old Kiwi hot shot Ben Stewart was fastest overall in session one, while Brent Collins, Brad Gartner, Mark Crutcher and NZ Captain Peter Ward were the best of the rest.

Crutcher, the Aussie Team Captain, bolted to 2nd on the timesheets at the end of P3 after running a set of new tyres, while Aussie frontrunner Graham Cheney missed P3 and P4 due to a fuel pump problem. The IES Camaro Team have been working hard to source parts and be back on the track for qualifying tomorrow morning.

All TA2 cars were getting airborne on the Highlands Park overpass with all drivers fascinated by the layout and design of the 4.2 kilometre, 16 corner European style circuit.

In the final session, twenty-year-old South Australian farmer Brad Gartner made it a team double by setting the second fastest time, 3/100ths faster than Ben Stewart and 5/100ths faster than Mark Crutcher in 4th.
Michael Coulter in the Turps Tippers Camaro, Gunnedah’s Greg Keam, Anthony Tenkate and Paul Hadley all had solid runs for the Aussie Team.

The only casualty was New Zealand’s Brent Collins who tagged the wall hard in the Southern Loop during the final session with minor damage to the Chillex Dodge. Collins was caught out after understeering into the rubber marbles on track and hit the wall side on damaging the Watts linkage at the rear.

Qualifying will be held at 9.42 tomorrow morning NZ local time, to be followed by the first ten lap sprint race at 1.40 pm.

While Herne leads the overall Trans-Tasman Challenge for the Howe Motorsport Enterprises Trans-Tasman Trophy,  Australia leads new Zealand on points for the Jason Richards Memorial Cup.  Three Aussies and three Kiwis rounded out the top 6 in the final session under sunny skies and a 33-degree track temperature.

Qualifying tomorrow and all races over the weekend will be televised live on Sky Sports New Zealand and Fox Sports/Kayo in Australia.


Nathan Herne

“We had a power steering pump issue in last weekends final race, so put a new pump in thinking the rack would be still ok - it locked up after only 3 corners in P1 today so I had to park it. It’s all sorted now, the Dodge feels really hooked up and I cant wait for qualifying. This track is just awesome, I’m loving it here.”
Craig Denyer:  National Category Manager

“Some Australian circuit promoters could learn a lot from how motor sport is done in New Zealand. From the day we landed, nothing has been too much trouble, and the hospitality has been superb. Nice to work with promoters that realise the race driver and team are also customers and treat them as such.  When Tony Quinn does something, he always leads the field and this facility is simply world class. Its worth a look for anyone travelling through the South Island.”