The new GTRNZ racing format may be only midway through its first season but it is already winning over the fans at every circuit it visits.

It was the turn of spectators at Manfeild in the Manawatu to enjoy the spectacle this past weekend and they were treated to some of the best saloon car action for many years. When spectators seek out drivers in the pits following races and tell then how much they enjoyed the racing a category is onto a winner.

GTRNZ consists of three categories, GT1, GT2 plus GTRNZ and all three are putting on a great show - big banger and highly modified saloons capturing the imagination with their noise, speed, colour and large grids.

The weather was not always at its best at Manfeild but the action was incredible as the series raced at the IRC Thunder In The Dark meeting.

In GT1, Tauranga driver Grant Brennan declared "it was like going to war" after his first race battle with New Plymouth driver John Rae. The duo fought it out in a wheel to wheel duel until Rae had to retire his Chev Corvette due to a lack of visibility. That left Brennan to take his Brennan SB2 Corvette on to win from Nick Chester of Auckland in his Holden Commodore and Palmerston North driver Cameron Jones in his spectacular rotary powered Camaro.

The following day Rae fought back with a win in the second race of the round from Brennan and Chester who had led early. Again it was hard fought, close racing with Rae crossing the line just 1.7 seconds ahead of his rival. The final race of the round, a reverse grid race, went to Brennan who carved through the field from the back to be in the lead after just 4 laps. Jones chased him through to second with Chester third. Rae had led the charge through from the back until he went off the circuit.

In the GT2 Class another Tauranga driver, Brian Gray, won the first two races in his impressive Mazda RX7 from Aucklander Craig Corliss in the AU Falcon V8 Supercar. Malcolm Glenn of Wellington drove his Nissan SR20 powered Anglia to third on Saturday while Wayne Conder chased Gray and Corliss home on Sunday morning in his Camaro.

Local driver Russell Due won the final race when he started at the front in his Camaro and held on. It was close however, his winning margin over Aucklander Conder just .521 of a second with Corliss a similar margin behind in third.

The NZGT races saw Tony Satherly of Whakaronga in Palmerston North dominant in the first race on Saturday winning by a margin of 7 seconds. Glenn Clarke did an excellent job in his Falcon to hold his own in the conditions amongst the 4-wheel-drive machinery while New Plymouth drivers Stephen Brown Thomas (Subaru WRX) and Brent Lander (EVO) were third and fourth respectively.

Satherley was absent the following day and in the morning Clarke drove another great race to come right through the field to win from Brown-Thomas in another tense finish, the margin .457 of a second. Brock Cooley was third in his EVO.

Brett Harris in a Nissan Skyline won the finale, a handicap event where the backmarkers failed to make it through. Paul Hanson and Shaun Judd staged a great finish for second and third, Hanson taking the spot after leading at one stage by the margin of .36 of a second.

The series is set to next unleash its exciting brand of action at Pukekohe Park Raceway in Auckland over the weekend of 20/21 February.

-source: gtrnz