PEDERSEN JUNIOR SHINES AT RAINY MANFEILD Ant Pedersen's attack on the Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge finally took a turn for the better, with the Palmerston North based student the best placed driver for International Motorsport during...
PEDERSEN JUNIOR SHINES AT RAINY MANFEILD
Ant Pedersen's attack on the Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge finally took a turn for the better, with the Palmerston North based student the best placed driver for International Motorsport during racing at Manfeild Park near Feilding.
Pedersen claimed third place in the points standings for the weekend after three mature races from the twenty-year-old. Pedersen's weekend started well with the Volvo Construction Equipment claiming third place in Qualifying which was run in wet conditions. Pedersen's best lap time was just 0.069 seconds shy of pole-sitter David Reynolds.
After racing with the front group early in Race One, Pedersen was handed a drive-through penalty for minor contact with Daniel Gaunt. With the weather improving over the heavy rain of Saturday, Pedersen worked his way forward in Race Two ending up in fourth place after showing strong speed.
Conditions turned treacherous for the third and final race of the weekend for the GT3's. Just as the field was released onto the track, a heavy rain shower swept over Manfeild Park. Just three cars elected to switch to wet weather tyres, Pedersen among the cars that stayed on slicks. The rain persisted, and even got worse with six laps remaining. Despite the extremely challenging conditions, Pedersen kept his cool, making no mistakes as he came home in third place in the shortened race, which placed him third overall for the weekend.
Jody Vincent was another to put in strong drives at Manfeild, however his decision to change to wet tyres in Race Three ultimately cost the Koken Tools GT3 a strong finish for the weekend. Vincent only qualified seventh, but a patient drive in Race One rewarded the Pukekohe driver with third place while fellow competitors fell foul of the conditions or race officials.
Vincent backed up third in Race One with another third place in Race Two. Now in his second season of racing the 997 GT3, Vincent is now showing car speed that keeps him in the hunt with race leaders. His run to third in Race Two was a case and point of this, as he crossed the line less than five seconds off the race winner Craig Baird.
In Race Three, Vincent was one of the drivers hurt by the early showing of the red flag. On the approach to the start line for Race Three, Vincent made the decision to pit for wet tyres. With wets fitted, Vincent was the second fastest car on the circuit after starting from pit lane.
His challenge to hunt down the race leaders was a monumental one, until more rain started falling mid way through the race. When it looked like the leaders would have to pit for wet tyres, Vincent looked set to pounce, until the red flag was shown and the race declared. Officials scored Vincent in eleventh place.
Jono Lester's weekend at the circuit his family was heavily involved with for many years was ordinary compared with his normal standard. After qualifying in sixth place, Lester battled his way forward to fourth in Race One in a determined drive which included a clash with Daniel Gaunt.
Races Two and Three went downhill for Lester as he fell back to sixth in Race Two, before being another driver to loose any chance of a top result in the final race of the weekend after the red flag halted the race. Lester like teammate Jody Vincent made the early decision to pit in the Blackwoods Paykels GT3, but again the early end to the race saw Lester classified in a disappointing eighth place.
Wellington roofer Darryn Henderson's weekend at his home circuit was challenging from the outset. Henderson was ninth in the wet qualifying session before a mistake in the challenging, wet Race One saw him slip back to twelfth. First corner contact resulted in a pitstop to change a damaged rear wheel in Race Two, with Henderson the last of the race finishers in tenth.
After staying on slick tyres for Race Three, Henderson was able to cross the line in seventh place in his Radio Sport GT3, however the results of the race are still provisional which may promote Henderson up the order when event officials confirm the final race classification.
Mark Russ had few highlights from his weekend at Manfeild in the Castrol Edge GT3. The twenty-two-year-old Aucklander was eighth in Qualifying, but a calculated run in Race One prompted him up the results board to fifth.
As conditions improved for Sunday's two races, Russ's weekend turned in the opposite direction. Contact with Australian Rodney Forbes in Race Two damaged one of the radiators on the Castrol Edge car, forcing him out early in the race.
With grids for Race Three determined from the fastest lap time in Race Two, Russ was to start from the rear of the field after not setting a competitive time due to the radiator damage. As another to take on wet weather tyres in Race Three, Russ was another to effectively penalise himself as he came home in thirteenth and last place.
Results weren't much better over at International Motorsport's BNT V8 team. Paul Pedersen's Tigercat Falcon showed serious speed in Qualifying, taking sixth on the grid. However throughout all three races Pedersen was caught up in incidents on track which saw him finish fourteenth in Race One and twentieth in Race Two.
Race Three was even more fraught for the Rotorua businessman, after an off track excursion ended in heavy contact with a tyre wall having completed just three laps. What made the crash even worse was a trailer that was parked in behind the tyre wall. The placement of the trailer caused considerably more damage to the Tigercat car than was necessary, and will put real pressure on the International Motorsport team with just one weekend's break before teams line up for the championship deciding round at Pukekohe.
Lining up for just his second round of MINI Challenge racing this season, James Kirkpatrick's weekend didn't produce the results he'd hoped for heading into the weekend until the final race. Kirkpatrick qualified ninth, and finished the first race in the same position.
The first corner of Race Two was a busy affair, contact with other cars ruling the James Trust MINI out of the race without even completing one lap. While other drivers ran into problems in Race Three, Kirkpatrick finally moved forward after avoiding some spectacular incidents involving others to take sixth place.
Championships will be decided for all classes at the next and final round of the championship season at Pukekohe Park when racing resumes over the weekend 13-15 March. With just eleven days until teams resume their battles on track, International Motorsport's crew are in for a busy fortnight to prepare for the championship finale.