A two round Trans-Tasman Challenge for TA2 Muscle cars will be held in February next year at Euromarque Motorsport Park in Christchurch and Tony Quinns Highlands International Motorsport Park circuit at Cromwell, near Queenstown, both in New Zealand’s South Island. It’s expected up to eight Australian competitors will cross the ditch to join the NZ TA2 Muscle car field at the Lady Wigram Trophy event at Christchurch February 9/11, and the New Zealand Grand Prix at Highlands International Motorsport Park February 16/18. Both events will be televised by Sky Sport New Zealand and Fox Sports/Kayo Australia.
This will be the first time TA2 Muscle Cars will race as a stand-alone category on what will be two of New Zealand’s premiere race meetings.
TA2 regulars Mark Crutcher, Paul Hadley, Graham Cheney, Anthony Tenkate, Peter Robinson, Greg Keam and current series leader Dylan Thomas have already signed up for the Challenge, joining the field of eight TA2 cars already racing in New Zealand’s Super V8 series.
New Zealand competitors include demolition expert Peter Ward, well known in racing circles on both sides of the Pacific, along with ex NZV8 Utes Champion Brett Rudd and Muscle Car regulars, Steve Ross, Andrew Turner, Andrew Sinclair, Maurice Shapley with the ex-speedway Racer John Roberts rounding out the Kiwi line up with 2 cars. Former NZ V8 Ute Champion Paul Manuell, who partnered Nathan Herne to a podium in this year’s TA2 King of the North event in Darwin, distributes the TA2 PBR spec cars and components in New Zealand and will service the category at both events.
For TA2 founder Peter Robinson, it will be a return to his home country, and he’s just purchased Nathans Herne’s front running Dodge Challenger for the trip with the intention of leaving it in New Zealand for future events.
Gary Lathrope, category administrator for the NZ TA2 Muscle Car Series is excited about the growth and development of TA2 as a main stream V8 touring car series for NZ fans.
TA2 National Category Manager Craig Denyer is also excited about the potential for future events in New Zealand.
Craig Denyer, TA2 Muscle Car Series Australia Category Manager
“This 2-Round series is shaping up to be one of the most exciting and enthralling in NZ Motorsport to launch TA2 racing in New Zealand and rekindle the Trans-Tasman motorsport rivalry embedded in the DNA of New Zealand and Australia motor racing history. Gary and Paul Manuell have done a great job in pulling these two events together and we’re looking forward to welcoming all the NZ competitors to the TA2 family. The LADY WIGRAM Trophy event at Christchurch is a major New Zealand motor racing title, having previously been won by Jack Brabham, Stirling Moss, Bruce McLaren, Jackie Stewart, Jim Clark, Frank Matich and Graham McRae, plus Highlands International Motorsport Park is a stunning layout for the New Zealand International Grand Prix round - all our drivers will love the experience of competing at such two high profile events and again this our chance to prove again why New Zealand has only had one Formula One world champion and Australia has had two. Kiwis versus the Aussies Bring it on”
Gary Lathrope, NZ TA2 Muscle Car Series Category Administrator
“This is an important step in our strategy to develop TA2 NZ as one of the primary V8 touring car series. The feedback from both competitors and fans is this is the best bang for buck around and the potential for ongoing Trans-Tasman events in NZ and Australia gives unlimited opportunities for the future. To launch the TA2 Muscle Car Trans Tasman Challenge at such high-profile events in February is a great bonus and I’m sure we will turn on a great show for the fans, plus prove again to the Aussie drivers that NZ is the birthplace of real touring car talent.”
Dylan Thomas, CXC Racing Ford Mustang
“ I am very excited to be heading over to the South Islands of New Zealand next year. It is going to be an awesome two rounds competing at some of New Zealand’s well known race tracks. I am very excited to race at Highlands motorsport park as it is a world renowned track and it is something that from a far looks incredible to drive.”
TA2 Muscle Cars most unique series prize, the Championship Ring is set to be fought out by three drivers at the final round of the TA2 Muscle Car Series at Calder Park Raceway- framed by HYTEK Steel Framing on the 30th November - 2nd December.
The ring itself is an Australian-made, hand-crafted 18ct Gold piece, designed by Stuart Bishop of Wallace Bishop Jewellery. The centrepiece of the ring is a wheel, which was drawn to replicate the wheels that are used in the TA2 Muscle Car Series.
Previous championship ring winners include inaugural series winner Russell Wright in 2017, Ashely Jarvis in 2018, Aaron Seton in 2019 and third generation racer Jett Johnson in 2022.
Dylan Thomas, Josh Haynes, and Jackson Rice are all withing striking distance of taking the series win, with only 38 points between them, and 240 points up for grabs over the 4-race weekend. Thomas has been consistent all year, and has led the series from Round One, while both Haynes and Rice have had to come from behind, however all three are in with a real chance of taking home the gold.
The final round at the re-birthed Calder Park in Melbourne gives no home track advantage to any driver, and all will have a chance to practice prior to the round.
In addition to the series ring, the winner will receive a totally re-freshed engine for the 2024 season, while the runners up will each receive and gearbox and diff rebuild respectively by PBR Distributions, the technical partner to the TA2 Muscle Car Series.
The RaceTech Rookie of the Round Award has become a defining element of this season, recognising the fresh talent to the series.
In a season where young guns are making their presence felt, the 2023 Rookie standings have proven to be a battleground of fierce competition. Former Heritage Touring Car driver Greg Keam has taken the lead in the Debeer Refinish Ford Mustang, 128 points in front of 18-year-old Hayden Hume in the Total Parts Plus Dodge Challenger. Hume did not compete at the recent Sydney Motorsport Park round due to his Toyota 86 commitments at Bathurst the week before but will enter the Calder finale.
This year's award will come with an extraordinary prize - a cutting-edge RaceTech simulator seat and chassis worth over $2000, enabling the winner to hone their skills and fine-tune their race craft at home.
All the prizes will be awarded at the Hi-Tec Oils Presentation Evening, Sunday December 3. Practise for the final round of the TA2 Muscle Car Series - framed by HYTEK Steel Framing will be on Thursday Nov 30, with racing Friday and Saturday Dec 1 and 2 until twilight finishes. Catch all of Saturday’s action live and free to air on SBS on Demand, simulcast on Fox Sports and Kayo Sports.
Craig Denyer Category Manager
“2024 has been a very competitive year for the TA2 Muscle Car Series and with three drivers still in for the series fight, the final round at Calder Park should be something special. The TA2 Championship ring for the series winner is something we are very proud of, its unique to Australian motor sport and has been treasured by all the previous winners. Along with a number of other major incentives such as a refreshed engine and other major prizes, we are looking forward to crowing the 2023 champion in fine style at our Gala Awards presentation on Sunday night following the final round.”
Josh Haynes #37 Beaches Sea Doo, Ford Mustang
“I have had an awesome year so far. We have had a couple of little setbacks which has hurt us in the championship. We are still well and truly in the fight leading up to Round 6 at Calder Park in 3 weeks time. We are going to a track that no one has ever raced a TA2 car at before, we are all on the same playing field and it is all to play for. I cannot wait it is going to be an awesome weekend.
To have a ring as the TA2 Major prize for the championship is really cool. There are not many categories you see that do something like this so I think it is really special.”
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Perth based Ron Moller has won the TA2 Muscle Car King of the West title following the final round at Carco.com Raceway at Wanneroo last weekend.
Moller took delivery of a new Ford Mustang in July this year and put it to good use, leading on points coming into the final which featured 6 rounds at the Wanneroo circuit, including the finale plus 2 rounds at Collie Motorplex, near Bunbury.
Ron had a yearlong battle with Troy Wilson taking the series by 108 points from Wilson.
2022 King of the West Brett Niall finished 3rd overall in his Camaro, however didn’t compete in all rounds. Last years title included 2 back-to-back rounds at Wanneroo and Collie, while this years series was expanded to include eight events. Niall recently raced at the TA2 Muscle Car Series round at Sydney Motorsport Park and will again back up for the final round at Calder Park in December.
Speedway star Jason Pryde wrapped up 4th place in the series, however only competed in 4 rounds due to sprint car commitments.
Peter Callo, father and son team of Brock and Brad Boley, Clint Rayner and Peter George in the ex-Nathan Herne Dodge Challenger all competed in the WA rounds.
Moller joins Graham Cheney, who was crowned the TA2 Northern Series Champion following the final round at Sydney Motorsport Park recently, as a series winner while the TA2 Southern Series will be decided at the final round at the rebirthed Calder Park Nov 30/Dec2. Catch all of Saturday's action live and free to air on SBS on Demand, simulcast on Fox Sports and Kayo Sports.
"?The year for me went went quite well. I can’t thank my crew enough, if it wasn't for them I wouldn't be competing myself. They do a great job of keeping the car ready and helping me out.
“The car ran great, we had no problems with the car. The handful of guys that were there were very good because we're all very close in times. It's literally only a few tenths of a second in our lap times.
“A couple of the guys that haven't been out as much this year will be back including Brett Niall, Jason Pryde, Clinton Rayner and Brad Boley, and I think Peter George might make it to a few more meetings next year, which will also be good.
“I do have a new car on the way for next season which is exciting. There’s half a dozen of us now that are literally within tenth or two of us, plus those names so it should make it a pretty interesting series next year.”
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IES Motorsport driver Graham Cheney has gone back-to-back, winning the 2023 TA2 Muscle Car Northern Series Championship - framed by HYTEK Steel Framing, following the final round at Sydney Motorsport Park last weekend.
Kubota Racing’s Matthew MacKelden finished 28 points behind Cheney with Maitlands Hayden Jackson in third only 2 points behind MacKelden.
The 2023 TA2 Muscle Car Northern Series rounds included Round 2 in Darwin, Round 3 at Queensland Raceway, Round 4 at Morgan Park and Round 5 under lights at Sydney Motorsport Park.
Cheney had enough points in the bank to wrap up the Northern Series point score, despite a fuel leak putting an end to his weekend early after a major fire erupted in the IES Camaro early in race two. He escaped without issue, however the car was badly charred and out for rest of the weekend.
Both MacKelden and Jackson had strong runs all season, although a drive train issue in the final race with the Dodge ended Jacksons race early, allowing MacKelden through to second.
CXC Ford Mustang Driver Dylan Thomas Leads the Southern Series ,17 points in front of Jackson Rice on 390 points and Nicholas Bates sitting on 350 points, with Calder Park being the final round of the three event Southern Series.
Ron Moller leads the TA2 Muscle Car Western Series from Troy Wilson and reigning champion Brett Niall with only one round to go at Wanneroo Raceway in Perth coming up this weekend.
The grand final of the 2023 TA2 Muscle Car Series framed by Hytek Steel Framing will be held at the Calder Park Raceway on November 30 - December 2 and televised live on SBS on Demand, simulcast on Fox Sports and Kayo Sports.
Graham Cheney, #51 IES Motorsport Chevrolet Camaro
“It’s great to wrap up the Northern Series after the weekend we had in Sydney, it’s definitely a nice positive after a not so good season for us.
“After the fire in Sydney, the team stripped down the car on Sunday and Monday. It’s not as bad as we first thought and it will be repairable for the end of the year. However we have a spare car in our stable which we will wheel out for the final round at Calder Park.
“I’m excited for Calder. I raced there years ago on a Super Motard so it’s going to be cool to come back there and race in the TA2 series. It’s a cool track and no one really has a home track advantage there, we’ll be giving it everything we’ve got for a strong end to the year.
“A huge thanks to Paul Hadley and the IES Motorsport team, I wouldn’t be racing if it wasn’t for him, HSR Accident Repairs for their panel work, and OBR Automotive.”
Matthew MacKelden, #99 Kubota Racing Ford Mustang
"This year has been an incredible ride, and securing second place in the 2023 TA2 Muscle Car Northern Series is the cherry on top of a fantastic season. Our consistent performance in Sydney, where we completed every race and secured a top-ten finish in the final race, played a pivotal role in our rise from fourth to second in the Northern Series and sixth overall as we head into the final round at Calder.”
"I owe a huge amount of gratitude to our parrnerss, Kubota, Stellatec, DBC2, Smith & Co Realty, and Lanhams Motor Group, for their unwavering support throughout this season."
Hayden Jackson, #81 Team RSG Dodge Challenger
“ We have had a bit of an up and down season. We started off well in Winton, bagged some good points there and then from Darwin onwards we have had major reliability issues with the car and we haven’t really got on top of them since.
To have had all these reliability issues and still only be 2 points off Matt MacKelden in the Northern Series we are pretty happy with that. It just hasn’t been our year this year and we are looking for more luck at Calder Park in November.”
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On his solo TA2 debut, TCR Australia star Jordan Cox clean swept the penultimate round of the TA2 Muscle Car Series framed by Hytek, after taking out the final three race wins under lights on Saturday at Sydney Motorsport Park over Tom Hayman and Dylan Thomas.
After his win in Race 1 on Saturday, Cox went back-to-back in Race 2, holding off a fast-finishing Hayman in the Di Pronto Concreting Mustang who passed Dylan Thomas for second into Turn 2 on Lap 9, and set the fastest lap of the race on Lap 10 with a 1:35.7 while chasing down Cox.
Cody Gillis started from the back of the grid in each race on Sunday, as a result of the contact with Haynes in Race 1. The Racing Academy driver pitted early in the race to get some clean air for testing purposes.
Gillis’ teammate Elliott Cleary was fighting hard with Ben Grice for fourth on Lap 4, before he came together with Ben Grice at the exit of Turn 2, with Cleary spinning into the infield.
A safety car was called on Lap 4 when Kyle Gurton stopped on the side of the track around Corporate Hill with low oil pressure.
TFH Hire duo Josh Thomas and Josh Anderson both had strong runs from the back of the grid to 15th and 11th respectively, with Anderson receiving the Hyperco Hard Charger Award for his efforts.
Cox scored a hat-trick with victory in a shortened Race 3 in Sydney after a final lap dash to the flag over Hayman.
The race was marred by a fire which engulfed Graham Cheney’s IES Motorsport Camaro on the exit of Turn 3 on the opening lap. Fortunately Cheney exited the car swiftly and was cleared from the infield medical centre.
The field resumed on Lap 5 before another safety car was called two laps later after John Holinger spun off track at Turn 1, before a one lap dash to the flag after eight laps.
In the finale, Cox fended off Hayman in a 15 lap thriller to clean sweep the weekend. The pair could not be split for the entire race until a last charge at the lead couldn’t pay off for Hayman, with Cox taking the chequered flag by 2.3 seconds, with third-placed Haynes over ten seconds behind.
Dylan Thomas sat in fourth early on before a gearbox issue saw the CXC Racing Mustang lose second gear, but salvaged a commendable seventh position and third overall for the round behind Cox and Hayman.
Nicholas Bates won the Circo Masters Class by one point over Kubota Racing’s Matthew MacKelden, while Zach Loscialpo won the Wilwood Big Broker Award and Anthony Tenkate won the Bowden’s Own Best Presented Award for the new colours on the Tenkate Plant Hire Mustang.
The final round of the 2023 TA2 Muscle Car Series framed by Hytek Steel Framing will be held at the Calder Park Raceway on November 30 - December 2.
Jordan Cox, driver #4 Crutcher Developments Ford Mustang
“Hopefully [Mark Crutcher] says he’s out and I’m in for the rest of the year! Seriously though I can’t think him enough for giving me these opportunities. It's people like him in motorsport that really give people like myself a chance to showcase our skills and I can't thank him enough, I really appreciate it.
“The IES Motorsport crew did a great job running the car all weekend. It was fast.
“It was a super interesting race, that last one. I was quick in places, Tom [Hayman] was quick in places. He's a really good steerer, I was right on the limit and I thoroughly enjoyed that last race.
“The best thing about these cars is you have to wheel them. My shoulders are sore, with the gearbox, the H-pattern dog box, you have to wheel it. But it’s not just one thing that makes a category. It's great people, great cars, well run and it was a good all round category to be a part of.”
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