FHOLDEN: Wills takes preliminary win at Pukekohne

Simon Wills (Birrana Racing/ Lighting Direct - Reynard 94D) scored yet another win on his way to the series lead after race one of round two of the Tasman Express New Zealand Grand Prix Series held at Auckland's Pukekohe circuit earlier today. In...

Simon Wills (Birrana Racing/ Lighting Direct - Reynard 94D) scored yet another win on his way to the series lead after race one of round two of the Tasman Express New Zealand Grand Prix Series held at Auckland's Pukekohe circuit earlier today. In dry and warm conditions the twenty-four-year-old Melbourne based Aucklander was never headed, setting a new lap record at 52.972s during a faultless display and will go into this afternoon's 40 lap New Zealand Grand Prix as the unbackable favourite. The rest of the field were left in his wake and after second placed finisher Andy Booth (NRC Racing/ Propecia - Reynard 95D) was given a five-second penalty for an error at the restart after a Safety Car period, allowing Matthew Halliday (NRC Racing/ Empower/ Turners - Reynard 95D) to move into second ahead of the other Birrana machine of LeRoy Stevenson.

Booth wound up fourth, with Steve Owen the only Hocking Motorsport finisher in fifth, his team mate Stuart Kostera retiring from tenth on lap three when a throttle-cable broke. 2000 Silver Star champion Peter Hill (M ONE 11 - Reynard 95D) matched his career-best finish of sixth after a spirited battle with teenager Paul Dumbrell (Wynn's Racing - Reynard 93D), Owen and USA driver Emerson Newton-John. Even though the latter was without a clutch, this did little to slow him down as he charged through to fifth after starting at the rear of the grid. A mid-race spin spoiled his day and he withdrew when the car wouldn't re-start. Paul Dumbrell claimed seventh, but was frustrated at being so slow in a straight-line, despite running without any upper element in his rear wing.

Ian Peters was eighth and the first Silver Star car home with Dean Cockerton, Mark Ellis (a quick early spin at the hairpin) and Ian Lloyd the last of the fourteen (Oakeshott failed to start due to a fuel leak) cars to take the chequer. Wills now moves into the overall points lead, ten ahead of Stevenson and twenty-four ahead of Halliday with Booth a further two points adrift of his NRC team mate. Outwardly, it seems the nothing can stop Wills from winning his third NZGP in as many years, although the threat of late rain may lead to some interesting set-up strategies. </pre> Top Ten Finishers Race 1 Pos Driver Team Car Race Time Laps Fastest On 1 Simon Wills Birrana Racing Reynard 94D 27:29.693 28 52.972 24 2 Matthew Halliday NRC Racing Reynard 95D 27:34.229 28 53.551 27 3 LeRoy Stevenson Birrana Racing Reynard 94D 27:37.508 28 53.436 26 4 Andy Booth NRC Racing Reynard 95D 27:38.348 28 53.454 24 5 Steve Owen Hocking Motorsport Reynard 97D 27:45.738 28 54.577 11 6 Peter Hill Murphy Motorsport Reynard 95D 27:47.031 28 54.457 26 7 Paul Dumbrell Wynns Racing Reynard 93D 27:47.418 28 54.609 11 8 Ian Peters Camtech Racing Reynard 91D 27:56.007 27 55.896 24 9 Dean Cockerton Dean Cockerton Reynard 91D 27:58.703 27 56.348 23 10 Mark Ellis Mantis Racing Reynard 92D 28:09.247 27 57.131 21

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