Baird and Halliday Back On Top at Teretonga
Trans-Tasman Cup team captains Craig Baird and Matt Halliday were back on top at the fourth round of the Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup at Invercargill's Teretonga Park this weekend, after being forced to play second fiddle to Hamilton driver Ross Rutherford at the third round of the 2004/05 series at Timaru last weekend.
Rutherford took over the mantle of Battery Town Porsche GT3 Championship pace-setter at the rain-dampened Timaru round after Baird and Halliday clashed in both Sunday races and were each docked 20 championship points after a tyre mix up in the second - wet - race.
But Baird and Halliday were on their best behaviour this weekend, Halliday successfully getting past pole-sitter Baird to win the shortened 50 minute twilight enduro on Saturday night, and Baird winning both races on Sunday.
In the first race Baird got the jump on pole sitter Halliday and led from start to finish, and in the second he did it again from pole, despite being shadowed all the way by Halliday - the latter deriving some consolation from the fact that he set the fastest lap in each race and lowering expat Jim Richards' class record, his new benchmark - 59.519 - set in Saturday's evening enduro.
Queensland-based former New Zealand Grand Prix and 2 Litre Touring Car champion Baird expressed himself well pleased with his weekend's efforts, having clawed back all but one of the points he lost to Rutherford at Timaru.
"Yes," he said, I'm very happy. "Once again it came down to the starts and I got good starts - three of them out of three races."
For Matt Halliday the weekend was all about Saturday's 50 minute evening enduro which he won in fine style from Baird and young Australian drivers Bryce Washington and Jonathan Webb.
Despite losing out at the start to Baird he caught and passed the Australian team leader in a gutsy move down the inside into the high-speed left-hand Caltex Loop and won the accident-shortened race by just over four seconds.
"Obviously it was just a case of yesterday I had a bit more time and managed to put a good pass on Craig. Today he was wise to that though and kept the door shut there and you know it is just so hard to pass here anywhere else, particularly in these cars which are so equal. I tried everything I could and there was just no way through, " Halliday said.
After winning both Sunday's races at Timaru, Hamilton driver Ross Rutherford arrived at the Teretonga round on a high and was again the best of the New Zealand based businessmen/drivers competing in the series and for Tag Heuer Carrera Challenge points, qualifying fifth fastest behind Baird, Halliday and the two young Australian drivers Jonathan Webb and Bryce Washington and carding a 5-4-3 run through the races.
That was enough for the Hamilton 37-year-old to retain his lead in the Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup points standings - albeit by just one point from Baird.
Unfortunately, this weekend's 2004/05 Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup series round was marred by two serious but unrelated accidents.
In Saturday evening's 50 minute twilight enduro 20-year-old Sydney driver Jonathan Webb was lucky to escape injury when his car suffered a tyre blow out after running over debri on the fastest part of the track.
Webb's car barrel rolled off the start/finish straight and came to rest in the infield but Webb escaped with bruising, a testament to the strength and integrity of his factory-built Porsche GT3 Cup car.
Top New Zealand businessman/racer Mike Weeks was not so lucky in the first of today's races, losing control of his car and spinning off the track and into the tyre barrier between the 'Loop' and Castrol corner on the fourth lap.
Weeks sustained serious injuries in the accident and was flown to Dunedin Public Hospital by rescue helicopter.
Ross Rutherford continues to lead the Tag Heuer Carrera Challenge for drivers 35 years of age and over from Dean Fulford, Rick Armstrong and the big mover in the category over the weekend, Auckland businessman Graeme Cameron.
2004/05 Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Series
Rnd 4 Teretonga Park Invercargill Sat/Sun Jan 15/16
Race 1 (50 Minute Enduro Saturday Evening) 1. Matt Halliday 42.12.485 2. Craig Baird +4.119 3. Bryce Washington +23.356 4. Jonathan Webb +23.514 5. Ross Rutherford +37.027 6. Mike Weeks +58.306 7. Dean Fulford +1.00.373 8. Darryl O'Young +1 lap 9. Rick Armstrong +0.561 10. Andrew Bagnall +4.413 11. Dean Cockerton +4.727 12. Graeme Cameron +16.180 13. Angus McFarlane +33.083 14. Grant Dalton +52.322 15. Scott O'Donnell +54.267 16. Paul Kelly +3 laps 17. Shane McKillen +3.870 18. Michael Morton +5 laps
Race 2 1. Craig Baird 11.46.030 3. Matt Halliday +0.243 4. Ross Rutherford +5.232 5. Dean Fulford +12.015 6. Darryl O'Young +12.211 7. Dean Cockerton +12.596 8. Rick Armstrong +13.200 9. Andrew Bagnall +17.234 10. Rhys McKay +17.730 11. Graeme Cameron +20.787 12. Angus McFarlane +21.629 13. Scott O'Donnell +22.654 14. Paul Kelly +24.428 15. Shane McKillen +24.742 16. Grant Dalton +25.118 17. Michael Morton +43.238 DNF Mike Weeks 9 laps
Race 3 1. Craig Baird 16.06.510 2. Matt Halliday +0.203 3. Ross Rutherford +6.808 4. Darryl O'Young +15.978 5. Rick Armstrong +19.522 6. Dean Fulford +19.522 7. Graeme Cameron +27.943 8. Andrew Bagnall +30.557 9. Dean Cockerton +30.582 10. Angus McFarlane +32.915 11. Paul Kelly +46.097 12. Grant Dalton +46.768 13. Scott O'Donnell +52.222 14. Shane McKillen +1 lap 15. Michael Morton +15.675 DNF Rhys McKay DNF Bryce Washington
Points after Rnd 3 of 8 (provisional) 1. Ross Rutherford 703 points 2. Craig Baird 702 3. Matt Halliday 690 4. Dean Fulford 607 5. Rick Armstrong 505 6. Graeme Cameron 435 7. Mike Weeks 423 8. Paul Kelly 383 9. Angus McFarlane 327 10. Scott O'Donnell 319 11. Bryce Washington 306 12. Andrew Bagnall 297 13. Darryl O'Young 263 14. Shane McKillen 256 15. Michael Morton 249 16. Grant Dalton 240 17. Dean Cockerton 228 18. Rhys McKay 147 19. Jonathan Webb 88 20. Jamie Peters 61
Tag Heuer Carrera Challenge 1. Ross Rutherford 703 2. Dean Fulford 607 3. Rick Armstrong 505 4. Graeme Cameron 435 5. Mike Weeks 423 6. Paul Kelly 383
Next race: Rnd 5 Jan 22-23 Ruapuna Park Raceway Christchurch