FHOLDEN: Booth snares Pukekohe win

Hamilton twenty-five year-old Andy Booth (NRC Racing/ Propecia - Reynard 95D) scored another amazing win during today's New Zealand Grand Prix at Auckland's Pukekohe circuit. Fresh from a surprise Denny Hulme Memorial victory at Manfeild last...

Hamilton twenty-five year-old Andy Booth (NRC Racing/ Propecia - Reynard 95D) scored another amazing win during today's New Zealand Grand Prix at Auckland's Pukekohe circuit. Fresh from a surprise Denny Hulme Memorial victory at Manfeild last weekend, Booth won the race by 13.5s from his team mate Matthew Halliday , and in doing so, clinched the coveted Tasman Cup as well as the prestigious New Zealand Motor Cup - securing a double never before achieved. Once again, Booth came from behind and benefited from the retirement of race leader Simon Wills (Birrana Racing/ Lighting Direct - Reynard 94D), who had led comfortably until lap 17, when an engine failure put him out of the race. It wasn't all plain sailing for Booth, having to contend with a strong challenge from Halliday, who closed to within 1.7s with just eight laps remaining. Unfortunately for the young Auckland ace, a quick spin when he was at his closest settled things in Booth's favour.

The race was an enthralling affair, with many cars spinning from the high-speed circuit and one of the highlights was a battle royal between third placed Paul Dumbrell (Wynn's Racing - Reynard 93D) and Steve Owen (Hocking Motorsport - Reynard 98D). For the entire forty lap journey the Aussie youngsters raced wheel to wheel, with each taking turns at leading at some point. This pair was joined late in the race by the flying Peter Hill (M ONE 11 - Reynard 94D), who latched onto the warring feud and actually passed Owen for fourth at one point. His stay was short-lived though, as he too spun and fell back, nevertheless recovering for a career best finish of fifth. Other spinners in the energy sapping affair were Stuart Kostera, Emerson Newton-John - who was running fourth at the time - and LeRoy Stevenson, who executed a frightening 220kp/h, 360 degree spin as he crested the hump on the main straight. Fortunately, the Invercargill youngster missed the barriers, but put a chill through the closely following Halliday, Newton-John, Dumbrell, Owen group.

Booth was an ecstatic winner throwing the car into a high speed slide as he crossed the line, before jumping out and performing a victory dance atop his NRC machine's engine cover. In a clever bit of showboating, Booth had the crowd eating out of his hands and received a rapturous reception after a torrid run. Stevenson finished the championship in second place, just two points behind Booth, with Halliday a solitary point further back in third. After a luckless run Wills could salvage little more than fourth place, and after losing two of New Zealand's greatest prizes on consecutive weeks while leading, he must surely be wondering were his luck has gone.

<pre> Top Ten Finishers - Tasman Express New Zealand Grand Prix

      Pos Driver         Team           Car             Race Time Laps Fastest On
      1 Andy Booth       NRC Racing Reynard 95D         38:25.383 40 53.775 34
      2 Matthew Halliday NRC Racing Reynard 95D         38:38.828 40 53.587 34
      3 Paul Dumbrell    Wynns Racing Reynard 93D       38:41.906 40 54.929 25
      4 Steve Owen       Hocking Motorsport Reynard 97D 38:43.106 40 54.884 27
      5 Peter Hill       Murphy Motorsport Reynard 95D  38:57.403 40 54.753 36
      6 Stuart Kostera   Hocking Motorsport Reynard 97D 39:10.696 40 55.419 28
      7 LeRoy Stevenson  Birrana Racing Reynard 94D     38:30.848 39 53.998 29
      8 Dean Cockerton   Dean Cockerton Reynard 91D     39:14.195 39 56.218 24
      9 Ian Peters       Camtech Racing Reynard 91D     39:14.297 39 55.689 38
      10 Mark Ellis      Mantis Racing Reynard 92D      38:47.593 39 56.894 5

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Series Other open wheel
Drivers Matthew Halliday , Denny Hulme , Simon Wills , Steve Owen , Paul Dumbrell , Peter Hill , Mark Ellis , Stuart Kostera , Emerson Newton-John , Andy Booth , Dean Cockerton