Nelson speedway racer Nick Marquet will face a strong challenge tomorrow night when the Mag and Turbo Ruapuna Speedway hosts the first round of the Barry Butterworth Memorial Trophy Midget Car Series.
Marquet has won the previous three series, joining his father Lee as a multiple winner of the trophy that has been contested since 1994 in memory of New Zealand speedway great Barry Butterworth. But he will have to see off the challenges of the two most dominant racers in the South Island in recent years, fellow Nelsonian Nevil Basalaj, and local driver David Kerr.
Another potential frontrunner who may have his car completed in time is former circuit racing standout Nick Donaldson. His campaign last year was based out of Auckland but the forthcoming nationals event has seen him return to his home track.
Nelson-based Victory Motor Racing team has signed up 17-year-old Michael Scott, of Te Puke, to join what is expected to be a full field competing for the 2013 Toyota Racing Series (TRS). He has had a successful year, winning the one-hour Formula First Grand Prix at Manfeild and finishing second in the national Formula Ford championship.
Australian Spike Goddard is the latest international driver to sign up for New Zealand's TRS. The 20-year-old has risen through Formula Ford in Australia and Britain and this year moved to "wings and slicks" cars for the first time, winning the national class in the 2012 British Formula 3 championship.
The series starts in Invercargill on January 10-13 and has just confirmed the highest-profile global television coverage ever secured by a New Zealand motor racing category. Following on from the international success of the 2012 series coverage, the coming series will screen in New Zealand, Europe, Britain and Australia.
Invercargill hosts the second and third rounds of the South Island Formula Ford Championship at Teretonga Park this weekend. Joining the championship will be Munro Tall, of Queenstown, in his Van Diemen RF90, who was a frontrunner last season. But he will be up against Christchurch's Jamie Munro, who dominated the opening round at Timaru this month. Also featuring will be OSCA Saloons, Pre 65 Saloons, Mini 7 South, Noel McIntyre Drainage Clubmans Saloons, Sports and Racing Cars.
In January, Invercargill will host Super Truck racing at the opening TRS round. Several trucks are expected to cross the Tasman to do battle with the Kiwis for what will be a five- round series with the opening round at Teretonga Park.
Hard on the heels of winning the 2012 V8 SuperTourers drivers' title in Christchurch last weekend, young Scott McLaughlin will attempt to wrap up the 2012 Dunlop Series in Sydney this weekend. The Dunlop Series is the feeder class to the Australian V8 Supercar Series. Expect an announcement shortly soon on which team he will sign for as he steps up to the main game in 2013.
Benjamin Carrell is the online editor of nzmotorracing.co.nz
Is the Canterbury team 'mentally soft'?Related story: North Harbour stun hapless Canterbury team