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

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.