News Release

More Competitors, Tougher Competition in Suzuki Swift Sport Cup Championship

08 April 2009
More Competitors, Tougher Competition in Suzuki Swift Sport Cup Championship

A solid increase in competing cars and increased competition has boosted the appeal of the Suzuki Swift Sport Cup motor racing series in New Zealand.


There was a 70 per cent increase in cars lining up for the one-make production saloon car championship which ended its second season at Pukekohe recently.


The fact that 22-year-old Christchurch driver Cody McMaster won the Swift series for the second year in a row disguised the marked increase in competitors and the closely fought racing.


McMaster scored 1,223 points during the seven rounds to finish a mere 10 points ahead of the runner-up.


“Competition was tougher this season,” said Cody. “There were four different drivers all finishing within 110 points at the end of the season. A lot of the young kart drivers had good pace.”


The Christchurch driver had a great start to the season, winning three races from three starts in his Winger Suzuki Swift at the season opener at Taupo. He also managed to post four lap records on the six tracks used for the nationwide championship.


McMaster said circuit lap times improved by about half a second and speeds were up, more as a result of different tyres rather than driving ability. Faster speeds also resulted from changes to the engine intake system on the cars which produced more power.


Cody ended the season with two round wins, two second rankings, a third, a fourth and a sixth to give him overall victory.


Major sponsor Suzuki New Zealand is delighted the championship is encouraging young, up and coming drivers into motor sport.


Wanganui student William Bamber, who finished a highly creditable second overall for the season, is only 15 years old.


Former karting racer Ben Dallas, third in the championship, is 18, while fellow Aucklander Graeme Smyth, who was fourth in the point score, is a youthful 17.


The 2008/2009 season again highlighted the merits of the Suzuki scholarship scheme for promising new drivers.


In the inaugural season, scholarship winner McMaster came through to win the championship.


Again, for the second season, the decision of the judges was vindicated by naming Dallas who emerged as one of the top three contenders in the series.


Kerry Cooper, General Manager of the Motor Sport Company which promotes
New Zealand motor racing championships, said, "Suzuki are onto a winner with their scholarship programme and their really proactive stance on bringing into the class new, young drivers to mix it up with some established runners.


"The cars present well and with the parity of the one make formula they produce a pretty 'robust driving style' at times when they are battling for outright honours," he said.


"The Suzuki Swift Sport Cup Championship is professionally organised and presented.  The racing was fantastic and made great television coverage all season."


Kerry Cooper said the Motor Sport Company were thrilled to be promoters of the championship and thanked Suzuki New Zealand for their enthusiasm and commitment to the class.


Cody McMaster said the reliability of the Swifts had been exceptional. “The only mechanical failure I’ve had in two seasons of racing is a broken driveshaft which came down to another car drilling me into a corner,” he said.


“The racing has been really close this year as it should be in a one-make series. The cars are great. If you are leading you cannot just pull away. You will get five car lengths going onto the back straight and by the time you get to the end of it there will be another four or five Swifts hard on your bumper,” said McMaster.


Cody said the championship has been an excellent class for him, and an experience that will launch him into a more premier class of motor sport.


The Christchurch driver complimented second place getter William Bamber who was his big threat. “William drove very well and was consistent all season,” he said.


Bamber’s solid performance showed his driving maturity, despite his tender years. He won the final round, secured three second round placings, and one third.


William took his Swift hatchback to fourth overall in the season opener, and was fourth equal in the second round. 


Meanwhile scholarship winner Dallas was one of only two drivers to win two rounds in the series. In the reverse grid race on Southland’s Teretonga track, the 18-year-old passed 11 cars in 15 laps and swept on to victory.


Making his Swift Sport Cup racing debut, Dallas rated the Invercargill event as his season best, while his Pukekohe win was also a highlight of the summer season.


“The Swift Sport Cup was an amazing experience and huge thanks must go to Suzuki New Zealand, Castrol and Winger Suzuki for the opportunity to contest the series,” said Ben Dallas.


“The scholarship provided a fantastic introduction to tin-top racing as I had never driven a race car before.


“We stated at the start of the championship our goal was to be in the top three and rookie of the year. I was in second overall placing for quite some time, only 26 points behind first place at one stage.


“However, too many things beyond our control went against us in the last few rounds. But I am very happy with third overall,” said Ben.


Suzuki New Zealand general manager of marketing, Tom Peck, said the Swift Sport Cup championship was clearly achieving its aims.


“The series provides aspiring drivers an affordable and super-competitive start to motor racing,” he said.


Prepared by Winger Suzuki, the competing Swifts conform to set specifications to ensure even competition. At the final round at Pukekohe less than a second covered the top four cars, and tight finishes throughout the season were the norm rather than the exception.


The 1.6-litre, 92 kW (125 brake horsepower) Swifts are based on New Zealand’s top-selling small car.


The seven-round championship, run under the auspices of the Motor Sport Association of New Zealand, began in October and ended in March, with four events in the North Island and three in the South Island.



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