GT

NZ: GT3Cup final round Friday notes

BUSY BAIRD GRABS BATTERY TOWN PORSCHE GT3 CUP POLE They say that if you want a job done you give it to a busy person and that was certainly the case at Pukekohe Park Raceway this afternoon, when Queensland-based Kiwi Craig Baird set the fastest...

BUSY BAIRD GRABS BATTERY TOWN PORSCHE GT3 CUP POLE

They say that if you want a job done you give it to a busy person and that was certainly the case at Pukekohe Park Raceway this afternoon, when Queensland-based Kiwi Craig Baird set the fastest time in the Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Series qualifying session.

Minutes after completing a marathon hour-and-a-half practice session stint behind the wheel of the WPS Ford Falcon he will drive in the weekend's Placemakers Australian V8 Supercar series races, Baird climbed back into the Paul Pedersen-owned GT3 Cup car he used to dominate previous rounds of this season's Battery Town Porsche GT3 Series rounds and calmly went half a second faster than he did in the timed practice session this morning.

Arch-rival Matt Halliday set the fastest time in that session - and was the first driver to break the 59 second barrier on the smooth, grippy surface of the newly resurfaced 2.8 km Pukekohe track- but the young Auckland-based international had to accept second best in the qualifying session, Baird edging him out by 0.185 of a second.

Third in both sessions was the leader of the Tag Heuer Challenge for drivers 35 years and over, Ross Rutherford. He set a best time of 59.624 in the timed practice session in the morning, then joined Baird and Halliday in the 58s in the qualifying session in the afternoon, stopping the clocks with a best time of 58.993 seconds.

Joining Rutherford on the second row of the grid for tomorrow's first Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup race will be 2003/04 Trans-Tasman Porsche GT3 Cup series champion Jim Richards.

The evergreen expat from Melbourne was a last minute addition to the Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup field for the Placemakers Australian V8 Supercar meeting, initially as a replacement for Baird, who claimed the 04/05 series title at the penultimate round at Taupo a month ago.

However with just two rather than the usual three Battery Town Series races at Pukekohe this weekend Baird and his V8 Supercar team decided that he could in fact compete in both classes and the proof of the pudding was his pole-setting time.

Fifth fastest in both today's sessions was Queenslander Charlie O'Brien, sixth impressive young Auckland driver Tim Martin.

Martin competed in the 2003/04 Trans-Tasman Porsche GT3 Cup series but could not put together the right car/sponsorship package to return to do the full Battery Town series and spent the summer working for the team that runs most of the cars, International Motorsport.

His perseverance paid off because he was able to lease a car for this weekend's final series meeting and he repaid the faith placed in him by sponsors Now Couriers and Barkers Menswear by setting the seventh fastest time in the practice session and the sixth fastest time in the qualifying one, meaning he will start tomorrow's first race beside O'Brien on the third row of the grid.

After the season Martin agreed that he had 'probably surprised a few people' but that he had set his time in the practice session on relatively old tyres and therefore expected to go quicker in the qualifying session.

That he did was doubly impressive because rather than improve after the V8 Supercars had laid down some extra rubber, the track conditions had in fact deteriorated.

" With new tyres for qualifying we expected to make quite a gain but in fact we had to work a lot harder to get a similar time," he said.

Ross Rutherford was the fastest of the Tag Heuer Challenge contestants, with Andrew Bagnall (7th), Graeme Cameron (8th) and Dean Fulford second, third and fourth respectively.

There are two 12 lap Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup series races at Pukekohe Park Raceway this weekend, the first on Saturday afternoon at 3.15pm the second on Sunday morning at 10.35am

<pre> Practice 1. Matt Halliday 58.680 2. Craig Baird 59.058 3. Ross Rutherford 59.624 4. Jim Richards 59.647 5. Charlie O'Brien 59.725 6. Graeme Cameron 59.864 7. Tim Martin 59.969 8. Andrew Bagnall 1.00.123 9. Rhys McKay 1.00.252 10. Dean Fulford 1.00.456 11. Dean Cockerton 1.00.528 12. Angus McFarlane 1.01.399 13. Grant Dalton 1.01.754 14. Paul Kelly 1.01.842 15. Nick Gordon 1.01.949 16. Scott O'Donnell 1.02.013 17. David Mackrell 1.02.219 18. Michael Morton 1.03.890

Qualifying 1. Craig Baird 58.474 2. Matt Halliday 58.659 3. Ross Rutherford 58.993 4. Jim Richards 59.122 5. Charlie O'Brien 59.349 6. Tim Martin 59.635 7. Andrew Bagnall 59.765 8. Graeme Cameron 59.871 9. Dean Fulford 59.902 10. Rhys McKay 1.00.117 11. Dean Cockerton 1.00.204 12. Paul Kelly 1.00.688 13. Angus McFarlane 1.00.839 14. Grant Dalton 1.01.245 15. Scott O'Donnell 1.02.209 16. David Mackrell 1.02.565 17. Nick Gordon 1.02.673 18. Michael Morton 1.04.078

-fast company-

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Series GT
Drivers Andrew Bagnall , Jim Richards , Craig Baird , Scott O'Donnell , Paul Kelly , Tim Martin , Rhys McKay , Dean Cockerton , Matt Halliday