REYNOLDS MASTERS CHANGEABLE CONDITIONS FOR BATTERY TOWN PORSCHE GT 3 CLEAN SWEEP IN CHRISTCHURCH
Australian driver David Reynolds celebrated his return to New Zealand's Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge championship in style at Christchurch's Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Ruapuna Park on Sunday completing an impressive round clean sweep with a runaway victory in the rain-shortened reverse top six grid final.
Wet or dry the 25-year-old from Melbourne took the changeable track and weather conditions in his stride, pipping defending series champion and Triple X Motorsport teammate Baird for pole position in streaming conditions in qualifying before winning a thrilling battle for victory with Baird for on a dry track in the new double-points The Mad Butcher-sponsored 100km mini-endurance race on Saturday afternoon then winning both weekend sprint races on Sunday.
In the first he got the jump on fellow front row starter Baird and made the most of the cool, dry track conditions to punch out then maintain a handy lead to the flag while in the second he proved the master of the increasingly difficult conditions which eventually brought the red flag out on lap 12 of what was supposed to be 14.
It was a deeply impressive performance albeit one which, because he missed the first round of this year's Battery Town series at Pukekohe at the beginning of the month, still leaves defending series champion Craig Baird, who finished runner-up, with a handsome series points lead.
Baird briefly wrested the lead off Reynolds in The Mad Butcher enduro on Saturday only to lose it again at the compulsory pit stop and from that point on it was Reynolds who hogged the lion's share of the Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge limelight over the weekend.
Fastest round one qualifier and race winner Matt Halliday also another to find himself racing in Reynolds' shadow, with a third on Saturday, a fourth behind Reynolds, Baird and a fast-starting Ant Pedersen on Sunday morning and a hard-won second place in the rain-shortened reverse top-six grid final in the afternoon.
Halliday gave as good as he took in that race, matching Reynolds's every move early on only to lose time as he drifted wide at the hairpin as the conditions deteriorated then decide that with Baird and reverse top six grid poleman Daniel Gaunt close behind discretion was the better part of valour.
Round-wise the result was a a perfect 300 points for Reynolds with Baird 39 points back in second and Halliday a further 20 points back in third.
Halliday's teammate, Jonny Reid was fourth, Ant Pedersen fifth and Daniel Gaunt sixth.
In the Mothers 996 Cup category, for drivers of older model 996 GT3 Cup cars, first round winner Hugh Gardiner was again fastest, splitting the 997 model GT3s of Mitch Cunningham and Andrew Bagnall in qualifying and spending the weekend running with Bagnall and fellow 997 driver Shane McKillen in the races.
It was young Wellington driver Simon McLennan who was the category winner at the round however, Gardiner failing to finish the double points Saturday race after running out of petrol with two laps to go. That gave the overall win to McLennan from fellow kart-turned-car racer Simon Evans and Gardiner.
Behind Reynolds, Baird, Halliday et al interest in the races focused on various mid-field battles with series newcomer Mitch Cunningham coming through to claim sixth place in the rain-dampened final, just in front of local man Paul Kelly.
Kelly was an early casualty of a spin then a starter motor problem in the first race but came back to finish ninth in the first sprint race and seventh - and last car on the lead lap - in the final.
Had that race lasted he would have ended up even further up the order, having made the brave but ultimately correct decision to pit early and swap his cars slick tyres for wets.
Though the red flag ultimately stymied his opportunistic charge, at one stage he was circulating five seconds a lap faster than the cars he was catching.
Meanwhile the prognosis was good for young Auckland driver Courtney Letica who crashed heavily in qualifying. He was admitted to hospital with suspected concussion and a lower leg fracture but is expected to be released on Tuesday.
There is now a break over the Christmas/New Year period before the 2009/10 Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge championship resumes at Invercargill's Teretonga Park over the January 16-17 weekend.