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.”
Jackson Rice has been stripped of the overall round win after the first round of the 2023 TA2 Muscle Car Series at Winton Motor Raceway, with Dream Racing Australia set to appeal the decision.
The #7 Pedders Suspension & Brakes Ford Mustang driver was handed a 30-second post-race penalty for his part in an incident with MVA Racing’s Lee Stibbs (#66 Arrow Financial Services Chevrolet Camaro) at Turn 11 on Lap 4 of Race 4 which saw Stibbs spun out of the race lead.
The penalty has seen Rice drop from second to 17th in the official results of Race 4, promoting Brad Gartner (#22 Castec Rural Supplies Ford Mustang) to second and Michael Coulter (#11 Kobelco Motorsport Ford Mustang) to third in the race.
Stibbs has also been promoted to the overall round winner and series leader (217 points), with Rice dropping 24 points to second position (208 points), while Dylan Thomas (#68 CXC Racing Ford Mustang) remains third.
Rice’s team, Dream Racing Australia, has notified their intention to appeal the decision, which will be heard before the next round.
Other post-race penalties have seen both John Holinger and Rob Leonard handed 30-second penalties for on-track incidents in Race 4.
Round 2 of the 2023 TA2 Muscle Car Series framed by Hytek will be held at Darwin’s Hidden Valley Raceway, headlining the Hi-Tec Oils Super Series event on 29 April - 1 May.Full Meeting Points Report
Wodonga, VIC driver Jackson Rice has provisionally taken out Round 1 of the 2023 TA2 Muscle Car Series framed by Hytek after an action-packed final day of racing at the Hi-Tec Oils Super Series opener at Winton Motor Raceway.
Rice finished first, second, first and second in the four races, but the round victory remains under a cloud following an incident with Lee Stibbs in Race 4.
After his win in Race 1 on Saturday, Rice was beaten off the rolling start into Turn 1 by Stibbs. Drama behind saw 2022 Southern Series champion Zach Loscialpo make contact with Graham Cheney on the run between Turns 2 and 3 which saw Cheney rejoin down the field, with Loscialpo handed a 10 second post-race penalty for his role.
Chris Pappas went for a move on Chris Formosa at Turn 6 on Lap 2 which saw Formosa turned around and Pappas handed a ten-second penalty.
After an oil pressure issue in Race 1, 2022 Rookie of the Year Josh Haynes charged through from 27th to ninth. Following an overnight rebuild by MVA Racing for Brad Gartner’s #22 Castec Rural Supplies Mustang, Gartner pulled in during the formation lap but completed the race a lap down.
Stibbs hung on to score his first career TA2 race win by 1.6 seconds from Rice and Nicholas Bates.
Race 2 saw drama strike before the field reached Turn 1, with Paul Hadley tagged by Chris Pappas on the run to Turn 1, sending the IES Motorsport Camaro into the infield before it rolled over in spectacular fashion.
The Wollongong, NSW based former motorcycle racer climbed out of the car on his own steam was cleared by the circuit medical time of any injuries.
The race restarted on Lap 3, but Stibbs’ lead was short-lived when Rice passed Stibbs down the inside into Turn 11 on the following lap. Rice and was never-headed for the win, taking the chequered flag by 3.5 seconds from Stibbs and Bates.
Haynes continued his charge up the field from ninth to fifth ahead of Hayden Hume.
After a challenging start to the weekend, Brad Gartner charged his way from 27th to 11th to earn the Hyperco Hard Charger Award, with 2022 runner-up Graham Cheney moving up from 25th to 10th.
Stibbs got the holeshot into Turn 1 for Race 4 with Rice close behind. Haynes passed Dylan Thomas’ CXC Racing Mustang on the opening lap, before he jumped into third by Lap 2 with a move on Bates at Turn 9.
However, a game-changing moment on Lap 4 saw Rice’s Mustang tag the back of Stibbs’ Camaro at Turn 11, which spun the #66 Arrow Financial Services Camaro around. The incident remains under investigation following the conclusion of the race.
Rice maintained the lead, while Haynes closed-in on the race leader in the closing stages.
18-year old Hume closed in on the leading pack before he was slowed by a gearbox issue and turned by Thomas at Turn 8 which brought out the safety car on Lap 5. Following a great debut weekend to move up through the field, Hume scored the RaceTech Rookie of the Round for the Total Parts Plus Dodge Challenger.
The race resumed with five laps remaining as Rice defended Haynes for the race lead. Haynes piled on the pressure to the rear of Rice’s Mustang on the final lap, as the pair ran up the back straight side by side into the final two right-handers with Rice on the inside.
Rice went deep into Turn 11 which allowed Haynes to pull off a switchback move, diving down the inside into Turn 12 and winning the drag race to the line by less than two-tenths of a second in a classic finish, with Gartner charging home to third from 11th.
Haynes completed a dramatic turnaround after a DNF in Race 1 to win the final race, earning the Wilwood Big Braker Award for his efforts in the Beaches SeaDoo Mustang.
Provisionally, Rice took home the round win from Stibbs and Thomas. Nicholas Bates finished fourth outright and first in the Circo Masters Class, while Michael Coulter finished fifth outright in the new Kobelco Camaro which also won the Bowden’s Own Best Presented Award.
Round 2 of the TA2 Muscle Car Series framed by Hytek heads to the Northern Territory for the first time in the series’ history at Hidden Valley Raceway on 29 April - 1 May. The event will also play host to the first ever two-driver event for the series, headlining the second round of the Hi-Tec Oils Super Series.
Jackson Rice, #7 Pedders Suspension and Brakes Ford Mustang
“For that last one I was battling a flat tyre for the last four laps, so I was in damage control. All credit to Josh [Haynes] and his team. well done to them on the win.
"Apologies to Lee [Stibbs], we made contact early in that race, we are here to race hard and fair.
“I brought a trophy home for the cabinet and grabbed a heap of points in round one so it was a very good start.
“Josh raced me extremely hard so all credit to him and that is what we are here to do and put on a show for everyone watching at home and I think we did that so I am now looking forward to the challenge for the rest of the championship.”
Josh Haynes, #37 Beaches SeaDoo Ford Mustang
“So stoked to win the final race of the weekend with an awesome battle with Jackson on the last lap.
“Going into those final two corners, I was in a similar situation last year at The Bend with Jett Johnson where I made the switch-back on him, so that was the plan to try and get Jackson and we managed to pull it off and get the win on the last lap.
“What a way to end the weekend, from starting 25th on the grid in race 2 to coming first in the final race is such an award for all of our team. l’m so so grateful for my amazing team and support.
“We managed to grab a great bunch of points ahead of round 2 in Darwin!”