Motorsport: Race series to plug utes

By Ben Selby

Carmaker will use SuperTourers support class to showcase brand

SsangYong Actyon Sports will go racing in New Zealand
SsangYong Actyon Sports will go racing in New Zealand

A one-make race series featuring SsangYong Actyon sports utes will run as a major support class for the V8 SuperTourers series next year.

Called SsangYong Actyon Racing (SAR), the series allows individuals or companies to buy a ready-to-race ute for $30,000.

The package includes a ready-to-race Actyon sports ute and support from SsangYong at every race meeting.

SsangYong Actyon Sports Racing Series
SsangYong Actyon Sports Racing Series

SsangYong New Zealand chairman Rick Cooper told Driven the new series was a way for the company to showcase the brand in front of a much wider audience.

"We are heavily involved with motorsport and this is an innovative way to get our ute in front of our target demographic. The bonus is at the end of every race, a SsangYong is going to win," said Cooper.

The cars are built by Nick and Derek Mitchell at MRX in Hamilton with a 2.3-litre Mercedes-Benz developed engine. Each vehicle will have race seats, harness and window nets. "An Actyon Sports Ute will also be the pace car for the V8 SuperTourers and this will be supercharged," said Cooper.

The first round will be during the V8 Supertourers' Father's Day 400 at Taupo Motorsport Park on September 7 next year.

"We are looking to fill the grid at up to 30 cars for the opening round," said Cooper.

Unlike any other New Zealand race series, SAR will have a mixture of amateur and celebrity drivers. Famous names such as rugby stars Norm Hewitt and Todd Blackadder, NZ Superbike champion Andrew Stroud, and TV personality Leigh Hart will get behind the wheel.

"The celebrity factor is one of the key ways we can get the attention of fans and makes for a great way to attract potential sponsors. We want them to be entertained above all else," said Cooper.

The series will feature seven rounds, following the V8 SuperTourers series around New Zealand, with each round featuring three races over a two-day weekend.

Pre-race qualifying determines the starting grid for race one, while race two is reversed and the third race grid is determined by marble draw. Drivers will be competing for the Sir Colin Meads Trophy, which will be awarded by the rugby great to the championship winner at the end of the season.

SAR will receive TV coverage alongside V8 SuperTourers on TV3.

V8 SuperTourers chief executive Ray Noonan has high hopes for SAR.

"This ticks all those boxes," he said. "A large grid will be a welcome addition to series and the entertainment value is obvious."

- NZ Herald

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