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." 


Herne delivers Race 1 win in TA2 Trans-Tasman Challenge

Posted on 10 February 2024
Herne delivers Race 1 win in TA2 Trans-Tasman Challenge

Dual Australian Trans-Am Champion and American front runner Nathan Herne gave Australia first blood by taking the first race win in the inaugural Wilco Precast Australia Vs New Zealand Trans-Tasman TA2 Challenge at Euromarque Motorsport Park in Christchurch today.

After qualifying on pole by only six-hundredths of a second from 18-year-old New Zealander Ben Stewart, having his first TA2 drive in the John Roberts-owned Camaro, Herne led from lights out however was pressured all the way to the flag by Stewart, taking the win by six-tenths of a second.

Australian Graham Cheney placed third for IES Motorsport, defending from Kiwi Brent Collins in another race long clash.

South Australia’s Brad Gartner driving Peter Robinson’s Dodge Challenger had an intense battle with Mark Crutcher mid race, which resulted in Gartner turning the Australian TA2 Team Captain around at Turn 9 and copping a 20 second post-race penalty, while Crutcher recovered to ninth.

Gunnedah’s Greg Keam failed to finish lap one after differential failure off the start, while Michael Coulter’s Kolbelco Camaro made a demon start from the back of the grid after an incident in qualifying dropped him down the time sheets. 

Kiwi TA2 Team Captain Peter Ward, Andrew turner and Brett Rudd put in a good stint for the New Zealand Team, while Coulter, Crutcher and Steve Ross had a great race mid-pack with Coulter and Crutcher recovering to finish seventh and eighth, with Anthony Tenkate and Paul Hadley adding to the points tally further back.

24-year-old Amie Roberts had a solid run in only her second TA2 race meeting to finish 11th after recovering from recent ACL surgery. The NZ dirt bike champion will race tomorrow’s 10 lap event, then father John will do the 20 lap final.

While Australia won the race, Gartner’s penalty saw New Zealand now lead the overall point score for the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy, while Nathan Herne heads the Trans-Tasman driver championship for the Howe Engineering Services Perpetual Trophy. Australia and New Zealand alternated the top six, with five racers from each country completing the top ten in a true Trans-Tasman contest.

Races 2 and 3 tomorrow will be televised live on Fox Sports 506 and Kayo, along with the final round next weekend at Highlands Park.


Nathan Herne, #29 Howe Racing Enterprises Dodge Challenger

“Its great to be on the podium for Australia, especially to share it with Ben from New Zealand who did an outstanding job.

“It’s been a great event so far, we just going to try and keep it all together for the final weekend at Highlands Park. I’ve never raced in New Zealand before so I’m thoroughly enjoying the challenge so far, and really looking forward to racing at Highlands next weekend.

“Ben didn’t leave me alone! It’s awesome to see, especially for New Zealand, I started TA2 back in 2019 when I was a little bit younger than Ben, but, it's a bit weird for me to say, but for a young bloke only 18 years old and definitely at the heels of me, it's sort of been a passing of the baton I guess, it was an awesome race against him. Sometime in the future he could be the next Kiwi in supercars and take all our championships off us.”

Mark Crutcher, #4 Crutcher Developments Ford Mustang

“I was struggling to get tyre pressures up early in the race, I knew Brad was there, it was light contact but enough to turn me around. He’s apologised and we will move on, but as Team Captain I was tempted to take him off the bench for 5 minutes, however Stewards thought 20 seconds was enough!

Ben Stewart, driver #43 Sky Window Construction Racing Chevrolet Camaro

“That was just so much fun, like, probably one of my most enjoyable races. These cars are just awesome on these massive tyres. You slide them around, they're pretty hard to drive. It’s cool racing Nathan, he's a high benchmark and just to be close to him, I'm pretty stoked. 

“On the last lap I was giving it my all but just didn't quite have enough, but tomorrow we'll probably make some changes overnight and give it our best. I think I just pushed a bit too hard at the start, so I need to work to not burn up my tyres as much as at the start.


Aussies dominate Day One of NZ VS AUS TA2 Trans-Tasman Challenge

Posted on 9 February 2024
Aussies dominate Day One of NZ VS AUS TA2 Trans-Tasman Challenge

Lismore’s Nathan Herne led an Aussie One/Two in practice for this weekends Wilco Precast Trans-Tasman TA2 Challenge at Ruapuna New Zealand. Herne, fresh from racing TA2 in the USA, is looking to get his eye in before he hopefully returns to the States to a busy season later this year.  Driving the Dodge Challenger that he raced at Mr Panorama in 2020, Herne was the only driver in the 26’s in the final session with a 1.26.8, 9/10ths faster than IES Camaro driver Graham Cheney.  Eighteen-year-old  NZ driver Ben Stewart was 3rd fastest from Brent Collins with NSW driver Mark Crutcher 5th and South Aussie’s  Brad Gartner in the Captain America Dodge 6th.   All cars had a trouble-free run today under mixed condition, the first time TA2 Muscle Cars have raced on the South Island.
Qualifying will be held tomorrow morning,  followed by the first 10 lap sprint race, with another 10-lap sprint race on Sunday, and a 20-lap final, all televised live by Foxsport/Kayo.

The final round will be held at Highlands Park next weekend, with the overall winner taking home the Howe Engineering Services Perpetual trophy, while the highest scoring country overall will be awarded the prestigious Jason Richards Memorial trophy.  The New Zealand Team is Captained by Peter Ward, while Mark Crutcher has anointed himself as the Capt of the Aussie team and looking forward to leading Australia to victory in the first inter country TA2 Challenge to be held anywhere in the world.