Paul Radisich drives at Speedfest

By Catherine Pattison on Sat, 24 Feb 2018 | Motorsport
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New Zealand racing driver Paul Radisich leads a pack of Historic Touring Car series racers, in his former 1994 Ford Mondeo, at Teretonga Park last weekend. PHOTO: RICHARD DIMMOCK

The memories came flooding back as two-time World Touring Car Cup winner Paul Radisich was reunited with his 1994 Donington event-winning Ford Mondeo at the Classic Speedfest at Invercargill's Teretonga Park last weekend.

The classic motor racing meeting hosted the final round of the inaugural Historic Touring Car (HTC) series for Group C, Group A and later model 2-litre Super Touring and NZTC series cars and Radisich was lured to Invercargill by the man who now owns the car, Scott O'Donnell.

A Kiwi driver, Radisich notched two world title-winning efforts at the Touring Car World Cup events at Italy's Monza in 1993 and England's Donington in 1994. He was also a front-winning driver in Australian Touring Cars through the Ford Sierra Cosworth and Ford Falcon eras.

Invercargill's O'Donnell and wife Jocelyn are the driving forces behind the Bill Richardson Transport World museum and Radisich spoke at the opening of a special exhibition - celebrating Ford's New Zealand competition history - and drove O'Donnell's ex-British Touring Car Championship Mondeo in the first HTC race of the weekend.

Radisich worked his way up from fourth to second, crossing the finish line just over half a second behind Christchurch's Phil Mauger in a Nissan Primera.
‘‘I just had to wait for the rear tyres to come up to temp,'' the now Auckland-based Radisich said.

‘‘Having power steering was a nice surprise. We didn't have that when I raced the car first time around and you had to have forearms like Popeye to muscle the thing around,'' he added.

Behind Mauger and Radisich in the first race came Christchurch's Bruce Miles, hard-charging Dunedin driver Arron Black, then O'Donnell in one of his other historic Ford touring cars; a rare Wolf-built Ford Mondeo Super Tourer, which ran in the German 2-litre Touring Car Championship.

Other commitments meant Radisich was a non-starter in the other races. Mauger won the second HTC series race, on the Saturday, from Miles, O'Donnell and Black, who was behind the wheel of fellow Dunedin driver Warren Good's BTCC-winning BMW E36 coupe after an engine issue side-lined his own E30 BMW M3.
Miles went on to win twice on Sunday.

Spectators at the event enjoyed watching the PDL Mustang II in action and Todd Stewart, of Christchurch, showed its pace last Sunday, winning both Classic Saloon races for cars 2501cc and over. Earlier the car suffered gearbox problems, missing the first race on Saturday, which was won by Invercargill driver Brendan Mason in his Camaro. The Mustang started the second race from the back of the grid, coming through to sixth place in a handicap race won by Queenstown's Graeme Fraser in a BMW M3 Evo.

Local Invercargill driver Jordan Michels had a clean sweep in the Formula Ford races with fellow Southlander Stephen Heffernan, Phil Foulkes, of Clevedon and Australian Lyndon Arnel the placegetters across the weekend.

Queenstown's Darryn Clarke, in a Toyota Starlet, won two of the four 0-2500cc Classic Saloon races while other wins went to O'Donnell in an Alfa and Sandra Eden of Queenstown (BMW) in the handicap race.

Gary Cooper, of Mosgiel, took his Reynard to three wins in Formula Libre, dropping the lap record twice in the process. Southlander Brendon Leitch won the last race in the ex-Jacques Laffitte Ralt, after Cooper incurred a 10sec penalty.

Otago drivers featured in the other categories with Mosgiel's Paul Coory winning both of Saturday's Vintage Racing Car races from Graeme Hamilton, of Lyttelton, while Dunedin driver Paul Clarke's Mustang won three of the four Pre-65 Saloon races. The other Pre-65 victory in a handicap race went to Wallacetown driver John Mackley in a Ford Anglia.

* The multi-million dollar ‘‘Celebrating Ford Motorsport'' exhibition continues at Invercargill's Bill Richardson Transport World until March 20. The Ford racing collection includes 20 cars from the history of Ford motorsport in New Zealand.