PREMIER MEETING NEVER FAILS TO THRILL
The annual visit of the premier summer motor race series meeting, the Zoagn 200, to Teretonga Park kept the large crowd in attendance thoroughly entertained over the weekend. Racing was exceptionally close with top class fields and many incidents throughout two days of racing.
The BNT V8s Championship is a firm crowd favourite and it was defending champion Craig Baird who prevailed after three fascinating races. Hamilton driver Kayne Scott set the fastest time in qualifying in his Fujitsu Falcon but John McIntyre took first blood in his Talleys Falcon from Scott and Baird (United Video Falcon). Scott bounced back to win the second from Baird and McIntyre before Baird did the best job of carving through the field in the finale to finish second to Angus Fogg (LG/Newstalk ZB Falcon). That gave Baird the round from Scott and Fogg, taking the series points lead off Fogg in the process.
Australian Scott Pye, the current British Formula Ford Champion, won the first Toyota Racing Series race on Saturday slipping by current champion Mitch Evans of Auckland when the kiwi struck gear selection problems late in the race. Local star Damon Leitch qualified a fine fourth just .178 of a second off pole position but his race was shortlived after his Zero Fees Toyota was eliminated in a first lap accident. Leitch bounced back well the following day placing third in the Spirit Of A Nation Cup race which was won by Evans from Nick Cassidy. British driver Alex Lynn won the finale from German Mario Farnbacher and Evans who sealed the round victory while Leitch was fourth while recording the best lap time.
Defending champion Chris Pither 'The Gypsy' from Queensland bounced back from mechanical woes at the two opening rounds of the ENZED V8 Utes Challenge to clinch his first round victory of the season at Teretonga. Pither won two of the three races in his Gallagher XR8 Falcon while Simon 'Jnr' Burner' Beirne of Christchurch won the other in his Team McDonald's Falcon. However Caine Lobb "The Ginja Ninja' of Whangarei finished second overall for the round in his Mark Cromie Holden and still holds the championship lead.
Craig Baird added the round honours for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Championship to his BNT V8s success. Baird won both of Sundays races after finishing right on series leader Daniel Gaunt's tail in the opening clash over 38 laps on Saturday evening. Gaunt finished second overall for the round with young gun Scott Harrison of Whangarei third. Meanwhile Upper Hutt driver Simon McLennan won the 996 Cup category.
The Formula Ford races provided the type of wheel to wheel action expected with the race victories shared between Stefan Webling of Oakura, Tim Vickers of Auckland and Andre Heimgartner of Auckland. Webling took the overall round victory from Vickers with John Whelan of Dunedin third.
Dane Fisher of Auckland won Saturday evenings 30 lap Suzuki Swift Sport Cup race while Ben Erickson of Christchurch and Shaun Lawrence of Hamilton shared Sundays races. Fisher did enough to win the round with a second placing behind Erickson on Sunday morning and an eighth place in the rain on Sunday afternoon.
Logan Childs of Auckland took his Mitsubishi EVO 8 to a win in the 30 lap Production Racing Series contest on Saturday and backed up with a win in Sunday mornings race also. The Audi S3 of defending champion Simon Sceats from Auckland broke through for it's debut win in the final race in wet conditions. Childs won the round while Grant Liston from the North Shore leads the championship. Grant Aitken of Queenstown took round honours in Class C and Craig Innes Class A.
The next event at the circuit is the Evolution Motorsport Classic Speedfest from 18-20 February.