ROUND 5 WRAP UP – PETER BENNETT
THE PERFECT WEEKEND
Saturday morning we arrived at Hampton Downs for the 5 round of the BMW Race Driver Series and were greeted with thick fog which would mean a slight delay to the day getting underway.
With the fog cleared up we rolled out for qualifying where I was able to snatch pole position in the final moments, this would set the tone for the rest of the weekend.
Race 1 I was out done off the start and dropped into 2nd for most of the opening lap before setting up a move out of the final turn to retake the lead and set the fastest lap of the race on my way to the chequered flag.
Race 2 started with a 3 way tussle for the lead into turn one and I managed to come out in front and build a margin to the chasing pack once again setting the fastest lap of the race.
Race 3 we would be racing for the Michael Schumacher trophy, this was the race I really wanted to win. I got a great start and was able to consistently grow the margin each lap over the rest of the field. Topping off the perfect weekend with another fastest lap of the race.
A huge thanks has to go to P&S Automotive who gave me a faultless car to drive. As well as everyone behind the scenes that make the BMW Race Driver Series and the E30 scholarship happen.
Photo credit Matt Smith
ROUND 4 WRAP UP – PETER BENNETT
The 4th round of the BMW Racing Driver Series was held at Pukekohe Park Raceway over the weekend of the 23-24 of February. I headed into the weekend at the top of the championship and was looking forward to some wet racing.
Practice went well, we sat in the top 3 on the wet and semi drying track. During qualifying on Saturday morning we couldn’t quite keep the pace of the front runners but still managed a respectable 3rd row start in 5th place.
As we rolled out for our first race rain started to fall so we made the call to run our wet set up, unfortunately by the time our race started it was completely dry and it really killed our speed. It was a tough race as I went forward and back to finish 9th.
Race 2 was Sunday morning, we had made some changes overnight and were confident to come through. I carved up the field early on and soon found myself in second battling for first! I made a small but costly mistake at the hairpin and went wide onto the grass and finished in 14th place. We showed extreme speed and beat a 7 year old lap record!
Eager to redeem myself, I put my head down drove the wheels off my BMW and battled through from tenth to first place, I won the race by over a second and finally got the result we knew we had in us. After a really tough weekend we were glad to take a win and smash a record on the way!
The predicted storms for the weekend didn’t live up to its expectations but it meant we had a dry close racing all weekend.
Thanks to The BMW Race Driver Series, P&S automotive and everyone else behind the scenes that make it all possible, we now head into the business end of the season with only 2 more rounds to go and a small lead in the championship on our side.
ROUND 3 WRAP UP – PETER BENNETT
We had a really successful weekend in the BMW scholarship E30 car. Qualifying pole, winning the first 2 races and 4th in the final.
Unfortunately we had some small issues with the engine cutting out, which really hurt us in the last race, but we showed pace and consistency and I drove my hardest. We head to Pukekohe later this month where we’ll try again for a clean sweep!
Thank you to the BMW Race Driver Series, P and S Automotive and everyone who has helped out, big or small along the way.
ROUND 2 WRAP UP – PETER BENNETT
I had been itching to get back behind the wheel of the BMW E30 scholarship car, as we headed into round 2 this weekend in Taupo. To most the weather wasn’t looking great, but I was excited! I like the rain.
It was a tough start to the weekend as my transponder didn’t register in qualifying, this placed me from 20th position for race 1. Determined to get back to the front I put my head down and found my way up to 12th place before running out of laps to move forward anymore.
Starting 12th in race 2 and rain falling heavy, again I moved forward carving through the field setting the fastest lap time of the race. I made my way to 4th and closing in on the podium when I pushed a little too hard in the wet conditions made a small mistake which put me back to 5th and that’s where I finished.
The final race was from our overall points which meant I started 8th. The closer you get to the front the harder they are to pass! I got a ripper start and went right round the outside of everyone on turn 1, by turn 3 I was in 4th! I pushed on and pressured the cars in front, running out of laps I finished 3rd in the final race.
It was a fantastic weekend and although a small technical issue made it really tough for me,I was still able to salvage my 4th podium from 6 races so far this season and am still in the hunt for the championship.
As always I would not be able to race if it were not for the officials and volunteers who braved the rain all weekend and also to Peter and Graham from P&S automotive and all the other people behind the scenes that make the series and scholarship possible.
Photo credit Matt Smith
ICEBREAKER WRAP-UP – PETER BENNETT
After officially being handed the keys to the scholarship car on Friday. I took away my first win in the BMW E30 in the first race of the year, representing BMW it’s many passionate sponsors. After early dramas when the transponder didn’t register in qualifying. The officials were able to hand time me and I was awarded P4, for the first race.
I raced wheel to wheel with Ant Belsham for most of the race we travelled a whole lap virtually side by side without a touch! It was fantastic sportsmanship and I’m proud to be representing the series.
Starting off pole for race 2 on Sunday I was eager to race as well as I had the day before. I finished 2nd, however was still able to set the fastest lap of the race which would help place me from pole again for the final race.
With a much better start and intense battle for the first few laps, I soon found myself in the lead before a mid race safety car brought the field back together. I held off some challenges and won the third race for the weekend and overall round.
A huge thanks must go to the BMW race driver series committee for putting their faith in me to represent them as the scholarship driver, P & S Automotive for preparing the car and all of the other sponsors, supporters and volunteers that make the race weekends possible.
Photo Credits: Matt Smith
SSANGYONG CHAMPION PETER BENNETT WINS BMW E30 SCHOLARSHIP
Author: Simon Chapman at Velocity News
Reigning SsangYong Racing Series champion Peter Bennett has won this year’s BMW E30 Scholarship.
Run by the BMW Race Driver Series, the scholarship day was held last weekend at Pukekohe Park.
A wet and slippery circuit made for a tough evaluation, however, Bennett managed to impress and take out top honours. SsangYong drivers Joel Herbert and Kieron Rollinson were second and third respectively in this year’s running.
A total of 21 drivers were put through various tests including driver interviews as well as competency and ability assessment, with driving assessments done by Mike Eady of TrackTime. BMW regular Matt Griffin and former Toyota 86 Championship winner Tom Alexander were also on hand to help.
The win comes a year after Bennett narrowly missed out on the scholarship drive having finished third in the 2017 edition of the evaluation day.
After last year’s disappointment, Bennett said he felt more prepared than ever having gotten more experience and tuition in the year between evaluations.
“I got third in last year’s competition so I was pretty confident I could do the same or hopefully better this year,” Bennett told velocitynews.co.nz.
“Since last year’s scholarship I did the Aussie Driver Search over in Australia and learned a lot from that in terms of what they look for in this style of competition.
“I had Todd Hazlewood as my judge and got a lot of feedback from him, which was all good advice that I could put into use.”
Bennett said he’s already looking forward to the first round of the series on September 22–23 at the annual HRC Icebreaker meeting where he’ll make his debut.
“Any series where all the cars are the same and you’re not chequebook racing is the type of racing that really excites me. You know that everyone is on the same level.”
Already he’s eyeing up a long-term future within the club with ambitions to progress through the 2.0-litre classes through to the Open Class.
“How the series is set up you can progress through all of their ranks. There’s a process you can follow all the way through.
“I like the concept and after meeting a lot of people involved with the series, they’re just an awesome bunch of people to be involved with.
“I think with the uncertainty around other classes in New Zealand motorsport at the moment, with the size of the fields BMW have got they’re the most solid class. I’d love to just stay on-board with whatever they’ve got happening.”
The scholarship is into its fifth year of running. The first edition was won by Tom Grooten in 2014. Since then it has been won by Robert Hill, Tim Dawson and Jordan Baldwin, who has since graduated to the Toyota 86 Championship.
PETER BENNETT – E30 SCHOLARSHIP WINNER 2018-2019
On Sunday the 5th of August the BMW Race Driver Series, held their annual E30 Scholarship Competition; at Pukekohe Park Raceway. Turning up at the Park the sky was dark and drizzly with rain, however this didn’t dampen anyones spirit’s. Especially mine as I don’t mind a wet track, I finished 3rd in the previous years competition and was keen to improve this year.
After starting under rainy skies it was decided to be too wet for the scholarship contenders to have a fair assessment, but we continued on with interviews, understanding race control and the work behind the scenes the volunteers do. It wasn’t before long when the sun popped out, we had a short window to have all 20 competitors assessed on their driver competency and ability. On the way into the pits I got the thumbs up from BMW driver Matt Griffin, so I knew I had done well and the best I could.
After what seemed hours of waiting anxiously we were finally rallied in and the presentations started. There were minor awards for the day given and a huge thanks to all volunteers and staff behind the scenes that make the scholarship possible even after 5 years of running. Finally my name was called out as the top 3. I stood alongside fellow SsangYong racers Joel Herbert and Kieron Rollinson. My heart was beating out of my chest as one by one they announced 3rd place for Kieron and Second for Joel and finally I was announced the 2018/19 BMW E30 Scholarship Winner!
A year of preparation and hard work has paid off! I’m more than proud to represent the BMW brand, the sponsors of the series and scholarship and BMW Race Driver Series. I’m looking forward to a season of, challenges, learning, friendship and hopefully a few podiums along the way.