Herne last to first win to claim first TA2 Trans Tasman Title

Posted on 18 February 2024
Herne last to first win to claim first TA2 Trans Tasman Title

(Photo: Joel Hanks) 

Round two of the FN Roading TA2 Trans-Tasman Challenge this weekend  at Highlands Park saw an epic last to first drive from Australia’s Nathan Herne to win the inaugural TA2 Trans-Tasman title in what was the first inter country TA2 competition staged worldwide.

Herne dominated both the first round in Christchurch, and all sessions at Highlands Park to claim the Howe Motorsport Enterprises Trans-Tasman trophy. 

After winning this morning’s race comfortably and all but unbeatable in the point score after local gun Ben Stewart had a clutch issue, Herne accepted the $1000 bonus put up by SP Tools to start from the rear of the grid for the final race.

NZ’s Brent Collins and Australia’s Graham Cheney started on the front row with Brad Gartner and Mark Crutcher sitting in behind, followed by Greg Keam and Michael Coulter.

Conditions were hot for the 20-lap feature race and on lights out, it was a clean start with Herne picking off three in the first lap. He continued to push forward lap after lap, delivering a lesson to all in tyre management and car control.

Collins put in a good stint at the front after changes to ride height and suspension between races, before Cheney’s IES Camaro made the move stick under brakes to take the lead.

NZ Team Captain Peter Ward made it hard for Herne initially however the cool 21-year-old backed the Dodge into the hairpin then switched back and drove up the inside of Ward to take the spot.

A mid race safety car was called after Sydney’s Michael Coulter had an electrical issue causing the fuel pump to stop in the Turps Tippers Camaro.

On the re-start Herne again was relentless in his pursuit of the $1000 bonus, taking the lead with ease setting fastest laps along the way.

Ward and Crutcher had a good dice, before Ward got up the inside of the Aussie Team Captain through Turn 14 running side by side down the Main Straight before Crutcher backed out at the bus stop, a slowly deflating tyre dropping him back through the field.

Showing much improved form this weekend, Paul Hadley made a move on Andrew Turner at the Turn 9 hairpin, turning the Kiwi around with Maurice Shapley also involved, the IES Camaro being parked up behind the barriers with damage. Anthony Tenkate read the situation well to miss all three cars and move into 10th.

Gunnedah’s Greg Keam had a solid run in the Debeer Refinish Mustang to finish 6th behind Brad Gartner with Crutcher, Steve Ross, Brett Rudd and Anthony Tenkate rounding out the top 10.

Herne was presented with the Tran Tasman Trophy on the podium, along Cheney and Brent Collins from NZ, while Team Captain Mark Crutcher had the honour of accepting the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy on behalf of the Australian Team.

The Trans-Tasman Challenge proved a great platform for the launch of TA2 as a standalone V8 Series in New Zealand and all teams are keen for a rematch in Australia in the seasons to come.



Nathan Herne

“This was an awesome experience and I have to thank Chas Howe, Peter Robinson and Cam Sendall for making this happen.

“To be working again with Dad takes us back to the way we did it years ago and I was really happy how its all worked out.”

Peter Robinson

“I think this has been one of the best weekend’s ever for TA2. Gary Lathrope, Rachael Murray and Paul Manuell have worked tirelessly to get this across the line,  thanks to Tony Quin, Josie and all at this world class facility plus  Brendon White from Super Sprint NZ and his team for backing us and giving the opportunity to showcase what a great category this really is.”



Herne dominates Race 1 in TA2 Aus vs NZ Trans-Tasman Challenge at Highlands Park

Posted on 17 February 2024
Herne dominates Race 1 in TA2 Aus vs NZ Trans-Tasman Challenge at Highlands Park

(Photo: Joel Hanks) Clearly with a point to prove in an effort to secure another full-time drive in the USA for this season, Lismore’s Nathan Herne made it four wins in a row after dominating todays FN Roading TA2 Trans-Tasman Challenge Race 1 at Highlands Park. 

Herne won by just over six seconds from New Zealander Ben Stewart’s Camaro and Brad Gartner in the second of the PBR Dodge Challengers 3rd outright.

Herne also dominated this morning’s qualifying session by almost 2 seconds although Ben Stewart’s camber shims fell out on the out lap, leaving the eighteen-year-old with a loose upper control arm for the session.  Herne picked up the SP Tools $500 Pole Award.

An Aussie tri-fecta of Gartner, Crutcher and Cheney locked out the next 3 grid positions, all within a second, from Brent Collins and NZ Team Captain Peter Ward.

Under perfect weather and with a high track temperature, Herne jumped well on the green for the first 10 lap sprint race to lead Stewart into the bus stop and the long Southern Loop.

Crutcher came under pressure from NZ’s Brent Collins Camaro mid race with the Kiwi making a beautiful move under brakes off the Highlands Park overpass, then two running side by side until Collins pulled ahead on the Main straight.

Graham Cheney then attacked Crutcher for fifth outright when the number #4 Mustang developed selector issues and he was forced to hold it in second on certain parts of the track.

Current NZ TA2 Champion Andrew Turner had a lose at Turn 9 when he locked the rear brakes and again tagged the wall when running off line at the Southern Loop. Maurice Shapley also had a moment coming on the straight and tagged the wall with the rear off the Dodge causing no damage.

Michael Coulter in the Turps Tippers Camaro finished 8th, from Keam, Ross and Hadley, with Anthony Tenkates Mustang in 13th.

With only 2 races to go, another 10 lap sprint race and a 20 lap final, Australia leads the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy by 245 points to 175 with Herne dominating the Howe Motorsport Enterprises Trans-Tasman Championship and promising something special tomorrow.

Tomorrow’s races from Highlands Park will be televised by Sky Sports New Zealand and Fox Sports/Kayo in Australia.



Nathan Herne

“The car's in a happy spot. With these cars, you can definitely find a window with them and when they're in that window, they're very easy to work on and drive. It’s a credit to everyone who's helped me out over the years, to develop this setup and it works.

“I've had a few hiccups in the off season. Unfortunately, so that has held the plans. Originally I was going back to America to do the full season and had a few things lined up with Chev and a lot of things like that. Right now I'm on the back foot, we're just working that all out now.

“These two weeks have been a bit of a test for me to see how I can do this and see how I can run the car myself which opens the door for a few more opportunities so maybe I might have to do a privateer effort in a few different series, but we'll just wait and see.”

Ben Stewart

“I struggled to hold on the tyres and also caught some lapped traffic around the loop which hurt me a bit, but  there's no way I was going to really get to Nathan and towards the end I decided to bring it back and save the tyres because I've got a lot of racing to do tomorrow and no need to really wear out the tyres for no reason.

“I've only come here once in a Mazda, and then in a TA2 it's just feels like you're constantly turning the wheel the whole time and changing gears. You don't really get a break around here, but it's probably one of my favourite tracks in New Zealand.”

Brad Gartner

“It was a good run. Nathan's unreal, Ben's good, but no one's got much for Nathan, so if I can finish off in the top three this weekend, I'll be pretty happy.

“Just like to say massive thanks to everyone back home. Pa, I know you're watching, so thanks for everything and it's been a tough week back home for everyone,and thanks to my whole team.




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.”



Aussies pumped for TA2 Trans-Tasman Challenge at Highlands Park

Posted on 14 February 2024
Aussies pumped for TA2 Trans-Tasman Challenge at Highlands Park

Australian and New Zealand competitors are set to head to Tony Quinn’s Highlands Motorsport Park, Queenstown this weekend February 16-18 for Round 2 of the FN Roading Australia Vs New Zealand Trans-Tasman TA2 Challenge. 

#29 Howe Racing Enterprise Dodge Challenger driver Nathan Herne gave Australia first blood by taking the first race win, and clean sweeping the weekend at Euromarque Motorsport Park last weekend. 

Australian driver Graham Cheney placed second for the weekend for IES Motorsport, making it an all Aussie podium with Brad Gartner securing third after a difficult weekend. 

Team Captains Mark Crutcher and Peter Ward battled hard all weekend, with Crutcher making a move on Ward in the final race to finish fourth. 

Paul Hadley, Greg Keam, Anthony Tenkate and Michael Coulter will round out the 8 Australian drivers for Round 2 at Highlands Motorsport Park. 

Chasing hard all weekend,18 year old New Zealand driver Ben Stewart unfortunately didn’t start Race 3 due to breaking an axle in Race 2 whilst running in second behind Nathan Herne. 

New Zealand drivers John Roberts and Brianna Hughes will be sharing the #143 Chevrolet Camaro. This will be Brianna’s first time driving a TA2 Muscle Car around Highlands International Motorsport Park. 

Brent Collins, Andrew Turner, Maurice Shapely, Steve Ross and Brett Rudd complete the field of 16 cars.

Nathan Herne now leads the Trans-Tasman Championship for the Howe Racing Enterprises Perpetual Trophy, and Australia leads New Zealand 179 points to 134 points for the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy. The prestigious trophy will be awarded to the Australian or New Zealand team with the most points over the two round series. The wining team will get to hold the trophy for 12 months in recognition of their efforts. 

The TA2 Aus vs NZ Trans-Tasman Challenge will have 3 races across the weekend, with Race 3 featuring a 20 lap final. Catch all of Saturday and Sunday’s action live on Sky Sports New Zealand, Fox Sports Channel 506 and Kayo Sports. 


Nathan Herne #29 Howe Racing Enterprises, Dodge Challenger 

"Ruapuna was an awesome track to race at last weekend, Highlands Motorsport Park has been talked up by all the kiwi's, they have all said how good of a track it is. It is going to be hard to set the cars up for this track but I think these TA2 cars will surprise everyone with the lap times around that track." 



Herne’s TA2 hat trick delivers Australia Trans-Tasman Series Lead.

Posted on 11 February 2024
Herne’s TA2 hat trick delivers Australia Trans-Tasman Series Lead.

Lismore’s Nathan Herne qualified on pole and won all three races to lead Australia in the series point score going into the final round of the TA2 AUS vs NZ Tran Tasman Challenge. Chased hard all weekend by New Zealand’s rising star 18 year old Ben Stewart, Herne put on a master class in pace and tyre management, while Stewart unfortunately couldn’t start the final race due to breaking an axle in this morning’s sprint race while running second.

South Australia’s Brad Gartner was the hard charger in Race 2, moving from 10th on the grid to 3 rd , but copped a 10 second penalty for turning around NZ’s Brent Collins. Collins locked up and was loose leaving a gap for Gartner to take advantage of and the two touched with Collins spinning. Stewards looked at the vision again post-race and reinstated Gartner to 3 rd after overturning the earlier decision absolving Gartner of any blame in the incident.

The grid for the final 20 lap feature race was built on combined points from Race 1 and 2, with Herne on pole from Cheney and NZ represented by Brent Collins and Team Captain Peter Ward on the second row.

Herne gapped the field quickly, while Gartner and Collins again ran nose to tail hard early in the race, before Gartner got by. Team Captains Mark Crutcher and Peter Ward battled hard before Crutcher’s Mustang made the move stick, while Ward also went past Brent Collins after the two touched mid corner. Michael Coulter’s Kobelco Camaro had a better run in the final race, along with Greg Keam, Anthony Tenkate and Paul Hadley. Hadley showed greatly improved form this weekend by qualifying 10 th outright in his first time at Ruapuna.

Herne now leads the Tran Tasman Championship for the Howe Racing Enterprises Perpetual Trophy, and Australia leads New Zealand 179 points to 134 points for the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy, to be awarded to the highest point scoring country at the end of the two-round series.

The final round will be at Highlands Motorsport Park next weekend, televised live on Fox sports and Kayo.


Nathan Herne, #29 Howe Enterprise Racing Dodge Challenger 

"It was a great weekend for myself and it was great to be back with TA2 Racing. They put on an awesome show, the kiwi's did a good job at hosting us and it was great to have an Australian 1,2,3 to finish the weekend, I definitely think they will bring more heat come Highlands Motorsport Park next weekend. "

Peter Ward, #69 Demolition Racing Chevrolet Camaro
We lost one of our best drivers Ben Stewart with a mechanical issue in Race 2 which put us on the back foot. We live to fight another day, the cars are all still in one piece which is the main thing and next weekend at Highlands International Motorsport Park the kiwi's will come back fighting." 

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