2017 Australian Formula Ford Champion and current Porsche Carrera Cup Australia contender Max Vidau is the latest name to join the grid for the TA2 King of the North two-driver event at Hidden Valley Raceway this weekend. The excitement is building for Round 2 of the 2023 TA2 Muscle Car Series framed by Hytek, with Vidau set to team up with fellow South Australian Brad Gartner in the #22 Castec Rural Supplies Ford Mustang.
Gartner’s car is prepared by South Australian team MVA Racing which is headed up by Michael Vidau, Max’s father. Vidau is a talented young driver with an impressive track record as a champion of the 2017 Australian Formula Ford Series, and a multiple race winner in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge and now a contender in Porsche Carrera Cup Australia with Tekworkx Motorsport. Vidau also races on the dirt in Sprintcars, and is looking forward to adding the TA2 cars to his racing resume. It was a rough start to the season for Gartner, with the speedy 19-year-old coming unstuck in the first race of the weekend. However, Darwin presents an opportunity to get his championship campaign back on track, which is currently lead by MVA Racing teammate Lee Stibbs.
The addition of Max Vidau to Brad Gartner's team is expected to boost their chances of success in the TA2 King of the North Races and both drivers are looking forward to working together to achieve a win. The TA2 King of the North Races represents the first ever two-driver race for TA2 cars anywhere in the world, and the first time TA2 will race in the Northern Territory at Hidden Valley Raceway. Cars hit the track for practice on Saturday at the Hi-Tec Oils Super Series before qualifying and the first three races of the weekend on Saturday. The Monday labour day holiday feature races will be televised live on SBS, and simulcast on Fox Sports/Kayo.
With a combined age of over 130 years, Team 40 will certainly have a wealth of life experience to take to Darwin for Round 2 of the Hi-Tec Oils Super Series.
Russell Wright, the 2017 TA2 champion, will make a return to the series for next weekend’s Round Two of the TA2 Muscle Car Series - framed by HYTEK Steel Framing at Darwin’s Hidden Valley. The veteran will join Rob Leonard in the “Slow Down Workers Around” Access Linemarking Equipment/ Municipal Workers Australia TA2 Mustang for the two-driver event.Rob is hoping to draw on the experience on offer from the past champion and a long time TA2 driver. Wrights TA2 highlight was racing at the Circuit of America’s in Texas for Stevens- Miller Racing, part of the prize in winning the 2017 TA2 title, the same team that Nathan Herne now drivers for in the USA. Both drivers are quick to point out that they are there to have fun next weekend and while they will be pushing for a good result are fully aware that finishing each race is important for the series. The Hi-Tec Oils Super Series has put up a $20,000 cash bonus for the highest point scoring two driver combination over the six races next weekend. Other drivers to commit to the two driver concept are Touring Car Masters driver Marcus Zukanovic, teaming with Matt MacKelden in the Kubota Mustang, Dunlop Super 2 regular Tyler Everingham joining Jackson Rice in the Pedders Mustang, Edan Thornburrow with IES Camaro driver Graham Cheney, Andrew Fisher with Paul Hadley’s Camaro Team, National Trans-Am driver Tim Brook driving with Dylan Thomas in the CXC Mustang. Nathan Herne also returns in an all International entry alongside Asian TA2 and NZ V8 Ute Champ Paul Manuell, driving Peter Robinsons Dodge Challenger. Each of the drivers will get to do two sprint races in their own right, before combining for two feature races, each with a driver change mid race. The Monday labour day holiday feature races will be televised live on SBS, and simulcast on Fox Sports/Kayo.
QUOTESRob Leonard, driver #40 Access Linemarking Equipment / Municipal Workers Ford Mustang “Rusty still competes in historic Trans-Am so he will be on the pace straight away in the new Mustang, prepared by Team Johnson Racing, which had its first outing at the recent Winton round. I’m pretty new to this form of racing, so I’m looking forward to learning from one of the fiercest competitors around. In Rusty’s final full time TA2 appearance last year he won 3 out of the 4 races, so I’m pumped to be able to share the car with a real master.” Russell Wright, co-driver #40 Access Linemarking Equipment / Municipal Workers Ford Mustang “I love this category and was one of the first drivers to invest in the series when Peter Robinson kicked it off. To race at Darwin is something special, so I’m glad that Rob and Jill have given me the opportunity to share the experience and enjoy the ride. The car looks sensational, has been prepared by Steven Johnson so if we keep it together for all 6 races, then we might be surprised where Team 40 ends up.”
American-based Australian driver Nathan Herne will make a triumphant return to his home country to team up with New Zealander Paul Manuell in an all-international entry at Round 2 of the 2023 TA2 Muscle Car Series framed by Hytek Steel Framing at Hidden Valley Raceway on 29 April - 1 May.
Herne and Manuell join previously announced co-drivers Jordan Cox and Tyler Everingham for the event which has been boosted by major cash prize pool.
The Hi-Tec Oils Super Series have offered a cash prize of $20,000 to the Kings of the North, the highest overall point-scoring driver pairing from all six races.
Herne and Manuell will take the wheel of Peter Robinson’s #10 Morgan’s Investments Dodge Challenger. Robinson, the founder of the TA2 Muscle Car Series and Australian distributor for TA2 cars, has handed the keys over for this event.
Herne has been making waves in his rookie season in the American Trans-Am Series after a second place finish in only his second race at NOLA Motorsports Park, and lead laps at the last round at Road Atlanta. Herne has been based in Michigan, driving for Stevens Miller Racing through an association with Peter Robinson.
TA2 Australia and Stevens Miller Racing have previously facilitated one-off drivers for former champions Russell Wright and Ashley Jarvis as well as Herne in 2022 through an arrangement with PBR Distributions, brokered by Robinsons long term relationship with Joe Stevens and Chas Howe, manufacturer of the PBR Spec TA2 race cars.
Teaming up with Herne will be Paul Manuell, an experienced racing driver from New Zealand who brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the partnership. Manuell is also a TA2 champion driver, having won the TA2 Asia Championship in 2019, and a two-time champion of the NZ V8 Ute Championship.
Manuell also heads up the burgeoning New Zealand TA2 Series, and is working behind the scenes with the Australian TA2 Muscle Car Series to strengthen the Trans-Tasman links between each series for future opportunities.
Racing fans can expect an action-packed weekend with Herne and Manuell taking on the challenges of the series and vying for the top spot on the podium.
Round 2 of the 2023 TA2 Muscle Car Series will take place at Hidden Valley Raceway in the Northern Territory from April 29 to May 1 will be televised live on SBS Speedweek, Monday afternoon of the Labour Day Long Weekend, (May 1) simulcast on Fox Sports.
Stephen Whyte, General Manager - Benalla Auto Club
“To have Nathan Herne flying in from America to drive with Paul Manuell from New Zealand is a big coup for the Hi-Tec Oils Super Series.
“It’s very special for NAMSC and the Northern Territory motorsport community to have attracted a genuinely international entry to compete in a race meeting at Hidden Valley.”
Nathan Herne, driver #10 Morgan’s Investments Dodge Challenger
2x National Trans-Am Series Champion, 2023 American Trans-Am Series driver
“I’m really excited to come back to Australia and race in King of the North TA2 event, the first time ever for TA2 around the world that there’s going to be a driver change midway through the race.
“I’ll be teaming up with Paul Manuell from New Zealand. I haven’t met him before, but I’ve heard some great things about what he’s done in V8 Supertourers and V8 Utes and even the TA2 Series in Asia.
“Peter Robinson has been nice enough to lend Paul and I the keys of his Dodge, so hopefully we bring it home in one piece and give it our best shot.
“It worked out pretty well. I was already back in Australia and it worked out that this opportunity came up so I’ve decided to stay an extra week to do this race before I head back to America and get back to working on my car full time back in Michigan.
“I’m keen to get back to Darwin. I raced there in S5000 last year and the TA2 cars up there are going to be something different.
“It’s also the first time anyone in the Northern Territory will see these cars in the flesh and everywhere the TA2 cars go, whether it's Australia or America, they quickly become the most popular cars there.
“It'll be good to go back and spend the weekend with all the guys from TA2. These are the people who gave me my first shot to take the next step in my racing and they’ve helped me a lot, even to this day. So it's good to go back there there’s a lot of good names coming back out of the woods for it.
“Racing in America is a very different experience. I haven’t had as much raw seat time as I would've liked to so far over there, but it has been very busy and I've learned a lot. The driving style between the American Trans-Am cars and the Australian TA2 cars are quite different due to the tyres, so I will have to readapt to getting speed out of the Hoosier tyres.
Paul Manuell, driver #10 Morgan’s Investments Dodge Challenger
2019 TA2 Asia Champion, 2x NZ V8 Ute Champion
“I'm pretty thrilled to team up with a top driver like Nathan for the TA2 King of the North Races in Darwin.
“I wouldn't say I've had my day. I’m still competent behind the wheel, still winning races over here, but I don't race much over here anymore really. I'm the New Zealand distributor now for TA2, won the Asian championship in 2019 but I still like to keep my eye in.
“I’m really keen to see some data and I’m sure Nathan could teach me a thing or two. I’m really excited to jump on board and give it my best shot and hopefully we have a good, clean weekend.
“It's quite a unique concept doing the driver change and all that sort of stuff. That’s where the race can be won or lost, so it will be pretty important to get my head around and make the best of that. I think Nathan is sort of similar size and height for me, so there shouldn’t be too many problems with the belt change and that sort of stuff.
“There’s a lot of interest in TA2 in New Zealand. We’ve sold nine cars now and I’m at Hampton Downs testing three people today. Hampton Downs just launched one of our cars as their ride car which is pretty exciting as it will self-promote. We’re here for the long haul. I’ve been through Supertourers and I know what New Zealand wants. That’s why I’m so passionate about these cars. These are what New Zealand can afford and they provide some fantastic racing.
“I did a round at Queensland Raceway last year and it was my first time there while some guys in there had a lot of experience at the track, but going to Hidden Valley it’s a track most of the drivers haven’t been to, especially in these cars. So I feel a bit better about it when we went to Queensland Raceway, as I sort of just got my head around the circuit by the end of the weekend.
"I’d like to extend my thanks to Peter Robinson for the opportunity, and there’s some exciting stuff on the horizon for TA2 in Australia and New Zealand.”
QUOTESMatt MacKelden, driver #5 Kubota Racing Ford Mustang “I’ve known Marcus since back in the V8 Utes days and we’ve always had a tonne of laughs around the race tracks of Australia, so I know the banter will be strong between us. “Also his partner in TCM is R&J Batteries who supply all the batteries for Kubota products in Australia which made the boardroom decision pretty easy when it came to who was driving the car. “When the news came out there was to be a two-driver race I couldn’t believe the amount of calls I received to ask who I was driving with and if a decision has been made but I know in Marcus Kubota Racing/R&J Batteries have chosen a safe pair of hands who has real-time experience with the Hoosier tyre due to his TCM campaign, and is used to the responsibility of keeping a car in one piece with view to finishing all the races.” Marcus Zukanovic, co-driver #5 Kubota Racing Ford Mustang “I’m pumped to get up North and have a skid because from everyone I speak to, whether they’re current series drivers, V8 Supercars drivers or Dunlop Super 2 drivers, they all rave about the class which I’m not surprised about because I did some Late Model racing in the US which is quite similar and had a ball. “I’ve done quite a few races at Hidden Valley and it’s a place I love, not only the track but the whole town as well, so when the conversation came up between R&J Batteries and Kubota, I couldn’t say yes quick enough.” “I know Matt is currently seventh in the series, so I need to make sure I do my part to make sure he leaves Darwin still in a strong position, but I’m certainly looking forward to going toe-to-toe with some of the names I’ve competed against in the past in V8 Utes and Dunlop Super 2, I think its going to be a great weekend.”
QUOTESTyler Everingham, Tickford Racing Supercars Co-DriverDriving with Jackson Rice, #7 Pedders Suspension & Brakes Ford Mustang “I’m currently racing with Dream Racing Australia in the Trans Am Series and the opportunity popped up to race with Jackson [Rice] in the TA2 series, as soon as we heard there was a possibility of a co-driver round, we already sort of had a bit of an idea that we wanted to do it. “It’s a great opportunity to jump in and especially try and get some more miles for the Trans-Am Series rounds later in the year. "It's extremely valuable to get up to Darwin. It’s really difficult to get an opportunity to race anything up there outside of Supercars. It’s a long way to travel and to get this opportunity to go over and get some decent laps is really good. "Any sort of endurance racing and practice will be great once it comes time for Sandown and Bathurst later in the year. It’s a great opportunity and I can’t wait to get over there and race in the TA2 Series.” Jordan Cox, Garry Rogers Motorsport TCR Australia driverDriving with Mark Crutcher, #4 Crutcher Developments Ford Mustang “I’m super excited to line up for the TA2 enduro in Darwin. Mark Crutcher, who's a good friend of mine and someone who supported me in the early days of my racing career, he asked me to tag along and it took me less than a second to say yes for it. “I'm pretty keen to shake the ‘front-wheel drive’ tag. I’d like it to be an ‘all-round racer’ tag. To be honest, every time I drive a rear wheel drive car I like it more than a front-wheel drive. “I haven’t driven one in a competitive outing in a race meeting before, so it will be a different kettle of fish. “Mark’s got a good car, it’s well prepared and there’s no reason why I don't think we should do well at it. “They’re a great car. I’ve actually driven it twice. The first time was in Tasmania a few years ago in a practice session, and it was good then, and then I drove it at Winton this year and it felt ten times better than what I thought it was back then, and I though they were really good even back then. “I quite enjoyed the small amount of laps I did in it at Winton. They're very unique to drive. I've actually driven the European style Trans-Am before, and that's very different again, but I do know a bit about the cars, which helps. It’s a very unique driving style, but I think I can adapt to it. “I’ve never been to Darwin full stop, so not only am I excited to go race at Darwin, I'm very excited to go there and experience that part of the country for the first time.” Craig Denyer, TA2 Muscle Car Series Manager “At the TA2 Muscle Car Series, we're all about pushing the boundaries of racing, and the world-first TA2 two-driver race event is a perfect example of that. It's a unique concept that will undoubtedly take the excitement and competitiveness of TA2 racing to a whole new level and we’re proud to be pioneering this exciting concept for the TA2 formula worldwide. “We're proud to offer a platform for drivers to team up and create unforgettable racing moments. It's a thrilling opportunity to witness top drivers joining forces, showcasing their skills, strategy and teamwork, as they battle it out to be the ‘TA2 Kings of the North’. “We’re incredibly excited to see two of the best up-and-coming drivers in the country like Tyler Everingham and Jordan Cox sign up for it, and we can’t wait to see who else who will join in on this historic event.”