International flavour for autocross day

Neil Rogers, of Tauranga, Southland Sports Car Club ClubSport co-ordinator Malcolm Mitchell and recent returnee from Spain, Chris Halkyard, of Alexandra, compete in Sunday's non-championship grass autocross at Teretonga Park. Photo: Supplied
Craig Allan, of Invercargill, on his way to victory in the Honda Shuttle at Sunday’s non-championship grass autocross at Teretonga Park. Photo: Ron Veint

A NON-championship grass autocross event at Teretonga Park on Sunday drew competitors from far and wide, including one from Spain (well almost), another from Tauranga, plus a contingent from Central Otago.

Southland Sports Car Club ClubSport co-ordinator Malcolm Mitchell modelled the course for the event on the internationally famous Silverstone layout so it was fitting the entry had an international tinge to it.

Chris Halkyard returned from Spain in the past two months, having spent seven years in Europe teaching English.

Halkyard, now resident in Alexandra, was invited by a friend “from way back”, Neil Rogers, of Tauranga, who had been holidaying in the south and was invited by the Central Otago Motorsport Club on Saturday. While there, he found out about the autocross on Sunday and he and three friends entered the event.

Rogers was in his Peugeot 205, a car he shared with good friend Malcolm Allan while another friend, Sam Graham, of Cromwell, also entered in a Toyota GT86 previously raced in the South Island Endurance Series.

Rogers also persuaded Halkyard to enter his first motorsport event in his day-to-day transport, a Toyota MR2. Halkyard described the autocross as a “real hoot and heaps of fun”.

Rogers was at the other end of the spectrum, experience wise.

“I competed in my first ClubSport Champs back in 1980 and it is still fun,” he said.

Competitors tackled the course in a clockwise direction in the morning and in an anti-clockwise direction after lunch. After four runs in each direction, the times were tallied with Craig Allan, of Invercargill, winning the event in a Honda Shuttle from fellow Invercargill drivers Jeremy Lennon (Impreza WRX) and Malcolm Mitchell driving his Nissan NX.

Allan took the Over 1600cc class honours from Lennon with Steve Watson third in a Toyota Starlet GT, while Mitchell won the Under 1600cc class from Zac Murch in a Mazda AZ3 and Hayden Fordyce in the Evolution Motorsport Nissan Sentra, which is available for hire at ClubSport events.

Mitchell said the day was “epic”.

“There was not a single sad face among competitors. It was everything I expected and more.”

The next ClubSport event at Teretonga Park is round 5 of the Evolution Motorsport ClubSport Championship on Sunday, January 30.

  • Lindsay Beer is the Southland Sports Car Club publicity officer