From what was once a small close-knit racing series, the Prowear NZ Superlap Series has grown into a melting pot of high-performance machinery and talented wheelmen that has the series booked out weeks in advance. With that much horsepower and driver skill, the finale, held May 8–9 at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, was sure to be a nail-biter — points were that close leading up to the final round that, for most classes, it could’ve been anybody’s game. Alas, there was still one final battle. Drivers and their machines had all seen potent upgrades leading into this final round, and many of them were untested.
Thanks to the success of this entertaining, yet challenging, series, entry numbers were higher than ever. A cap of 50 cars was enforced to ensure the event would run smoothly. Andy Duffin of 3 Rotor Racing made an appearance during round six, which was held at Taupo's Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, so we were pleasantly surprised to see him joining the pack for the final round, causing an upset in the Pro Open category at the same time no doubt, too.
Hans Ruiterman was another GTRNZ competitor to make an appearance in the final round after disappearing off the Superlap radar for most of the season. Hans’s Silvia S14 is a potent near-on 500kW SR20VET demon, running in full GTRNZ trim, ready for war. We were curious to see how he’d go after being battle-hardened throughout a tough series of GTRNZ, one of New Zealand’s most competitive tin-top racing series.
Leon Scott of LSM was looking confident leading up to the final round, as he had the opportunity to take the overall win, and Pro Open win. A dogbox was installed, along with much beefier 295-wide Hankook semi-slicks — a combination Leon hadn't trialled together yet. According to Leon prior to the event, Hans Ruiterman was the poor sucker in his sights …
Another competitor fighting his way to the top of the food chain rather quickly was Iain Clegg in the ST Hitec Nissan GT-R R35. Yes, we know GT-Rs are always fast, but the progress Iain has made this season is second to none — and that's not just behind the wheel, as the GT-R has seen some serious upgrades since the start of the season.
Initially, Iain’s R35 retained a factory bottom end and turbos, albeit pushed to the absolute limits on E85 … Now, though, Iain runs a stroked-out VR38 engine that sits at a whopping 4.1 litres. An HKS GT1000 turbo kit was bolted on, and now the GT-R outputs just over 1000hp at the wheels. Yes, it’s quick.
There was yet another wild-card entry for the final round, but this time, the competitor was from Honda Cup. We’ve been following the build of Mitch Osbourne’s Honda Civic EG for some time now and we were anxious to know what it would manage around Hampton Downs. Unfortunately, Mitch was only able to run one outing, but impressed everyone with a 1:10.725!
The weekend sure did separate the men from the boys, and for some, like Barry Manon, rods from blocks. Early on Saturday, Barry lost oil pressure, resulting in a missing rod (seriously, it’s still on the grass at Hampton Downs somewhere). Barry still managed to snatch a 1:11.243 before the engine let go, and he was on his way to setting a new PB. All of this from a front-wheel drive Toyota Levin …
There were several other upsets on the day, too. Kat Benson damaged her gearbox, putting her out of the final round. Joe Ardagh scrubbed his tyres a little too hard and found himself in the tyre wall near the pit entry. Michael and Michelle Nealis ran their white Subaru Legacy a touch too hard and threw a rod, in a similar fashion to Barry Manon.
Another competitor who came for blood this round was Glenn Hodges. Leading up to this round, his blue 300ZX saw more upgrades than ever before. Less weight, more aero, more tyre, and more power. Things were set to look seriously good for ‘The Lab’.
Team Jtune never disappoint with their beautifully presented Hondas, and this time was no different. They also never disappoint with driver talent either, with ‘Racing Ray’ Williams or Colin Abah behind the wheel of either the Honda Accord, named ‘Fanta’, or Colin’s Honda S2000.
Ray Williams is always happy to give a wave to lucky photographers — something that still makes him very much an entertaining driver, all these years later.
Now that you’re pretty much up to date with the changes and the new drivers since last season, let's get into the action.
With two sessions completed on day one, it was now time to see what everyone was made of on day two. With only one session, followed by the top 10 shootouts, everyone went hard to try to nab a spot at the end of the day.
Fierce street-car competitors Emil Roshan, Glenn Hodges, and Shamil Arachie all made it into the shootout, and were all within half a second of each other. Leading up to the shootout, the aforementioned drivers stripped any unnecessary weight, including passenger seats, mirrors, lights, and bracing to try and get an edge.
During the shootout, Glenn Hodges overcooked turn one, handing Emil the street-car win. Shamil couldn’t quite string together the perfect lap either. During the shootout, Emil managed to set a new PB with a 1:14.162 in his stock-looking R34 GT-R.
Andy Duffin was on fire, too (quite literally), absolutely destroying the top 10 shootouts with a 1:06.073, followed closely by Iain Clegg in the ST Hitec Nissan GT-R R35 with a 1:08.850 on full slicks. Leon Scott was the fastest competitor over the weekend with semi-slick tyres, and because of his placing during the final round, managed to take out the overall win, and the Pro Open championship.
The Pro Street category win went to Barry Manon, who dominated the class with a healthy margin even after suffering his catastrophic engine failure in the final round. If that wasn’t enough, Barry managed to score best-presented race car, which, considering it has been around for over 10 years, says something about Barry’s attention to detail, and the quality of his builds.
One of the most intense category wins went to Emil Roshan. His black R34 has been driven to and from every event, proving its ‘streetability’. This season we’ve seen Emil’s times drop, and not because of any upgrades, but rather his strong determination to improve behind the wheel. A well-deserved win by Emil, and we can’t wait to see how the GT-R progresses for next season.
We’ve got plenty more content coming from the Prowear NZ Superlap Series, so keep your eyes peeled!