PENULTIMATE ROUND OF GTRNZ SERIES SETS UP EXCITING FINALE More exciting racing at the penultimate round of the GTRNZ Series at Manfeild in Feilding this weekend has set up a classic finale for each class at Taupo over Easter. In the GT1 Class...
PENULTIMATE ROUND OF GTRNZ SERIES SETS UP EXCITING FINALE
More exciting racing at the penultimate round of the GTRNZ Series at Manfeild in Feilding this weekend has set up a classic finale for each class at Taupo over Easter.
In the GT1 Class for the fastest cars in the series Grant Brennan of Tauranga made the best advancement towards championship success with a clean sweep in his Brennan SB2 Corvette. Brennan took pole position from rival John Rae of New Plymouth on Saturday and went on to take three wins from three races to put himself in a strong championship position.
Rae was only .206 of a second behind Brennan in qualifying and the duo looked set to provide the same breathtaking action as they had on their last visit to Manfeild. Once again the pair provided some exciting battles and plenty of passing manoeuvres but Rae struggled with grip and brake problems in his Corvette C5 while he was also recovering from a virus. Consequently Brennan managed to ease away to win the first two races before a spin in the final race, a handicap event, saw him charge back to catch and pass Rae on the final lap in a thrilling finish. Behind Brennan and Rae local driver Cameron Jones battled engine gremlins in his rotary powered Chev Camaro and was happy to take third place in each race to aid his series points tally. Papamoa driver Tim Rooney in a Ford Mustang and Mark Burgess of Wellington in a turbocharged Mazda RX7 rounded out the class.
Craig Corliss of Auckland arrived at Manfeild leading the GT2 Class and after taking pole and winning the first two races from fellow Aucklander Wayne Conder he had extended his points lead still further. There was little between the duo however and Conder set a new GT2 lap record in the second race of the round. However as the field lined up for the final race Corliss suffered a broken axle in his Ford Falcon AU V8 Supercar and took no part in the race. That left Conder to win from Brian Gray of Tauranga in a Mazda RX7 and Aucklander Conal Dempsey in his Porsche. Corliss and Conder will now take their battle to Taupo.
While the GT1 and GT2 fields were smaller than usual after a frantic round at Pukekohe just two weeks earlier the NZGT grid was very healthy and the racing was again close.
The championship frontrunners prior to Manfeild were Brent Lander of New Plymouth, Andre Cowan of Auckland, Stephen Brown-Thomas of Waitara and Brock Cooley of Wellington.
Each had mixed weekends as Jon Telford of Dannevirke in his Lexus V8 powered Mitsubishi GTO took pole position and won two of the three races while Malcolm Glen of Wellington won the other in his Nissan powered Anglia. Cooley had a tough weekend in his EVO, failing to finish two of the three races. Meanwhile Lander, Cowan and Brown-Thomas had an assortment of results. Lander started strongly with a second in Saturdays race with Cowan fourth and Brown-Thomas eleventh. Then on Sunday Cowan secured a second and a third place, Brown-Thomas a seventh and a second and Lander a sixth and seventh.
Local, Tony Satherley of Whakarongo had finished third on Saturday but his gearbox jammed in Sundays first race ending his weekend while Brent Dickson of Kawerau also took a third place.
The mixed fortunes of the leading competitors throughout the weekend have set the final round up for an enormous battle.
In fact the double points finale at Taupo looks set for a spectacular finish, fitting for a series that has produced so much great racing in its debut season.
Brennan is tantalisingly close to the GT1 title but will face a tough field at Taupo while the battle between Corliss and Conder in GT2 will be superb. In NZGT it appears it there will be several drivers in contention right to the last race - a fitting end to a great first season for GTRNZ.