BAIRD CONTINUES ON HIS WINNING WAY IN HAMILTON Recently re-crowned series champion Craig Baird continued on his winning way on the first day of competition at the season-ending Trophy round of the 2008/09 Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge...
BAIRD CONTINUES ON HIS WINNING WAY IN HAMILTON
Recently re-crowned series champion Craig Baird continued on his winning way on the first day of competition at the season-ending Trophy round of the 2008/09 Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge at the Hamilton 400 V8 Supercar meeting in Hamilton today.
Baird won the last six Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge championship races on the trot. And after claiming pole position with the only sub 1.27.000 lap of the high speed 3.4 km street circuit on Friday afternoon, the Hamilton-born but now Queensland, Australia-based professional won today's two non-championship Trophy races very much as he liked.
"It has been pretty easy so far," he admitted after his second lights-to-flag victory of the afternoon. "Without Dave (Reynolds, the young Australian driver who kept him honest in the championship races this season) the pressure's been off really and I've been able to dictate things. Like in that race (the second) I just ran my old set of tyres so that I have a new set for tomorrow."
Guest driver John McIntyre, a two-time NZV8s champion, raised eyebrows with his pace in qualifying, but was forced to play catchup in both of today's races, crossing the line sixth in the first and fourth in the second.
That left series young gun and second quickest qualifier Jono Lester to make the most of the clear air behind Baird, the 18-year-old setting the second quickest lap time in both races, his best lap in the second - a 1.26.9991 - just 0.00.3189 of a second shy of Baird's best and the only other race time under 1.27.000.
After some ups and downs in the championship races over the season the young third-generation racer agreed that things did seem to be going his way, and that he was hoping for more of the same tomorrow.
"It has been a pretty good weekend so far, being second each time we've gone out which with Craig in the field is pretty much the best you can hope for. We've got a little bit of work to do tonight because we made what turned out to be a couple of errors in terms of set up for the second race, but that aside we've got a really strong race car and we're looking for another good result on Sunday."
Long-time sparring partner Ant Pedersen finished fourth in the first race but was an early retirement in the second as a driveshaft cried enough.
A broken driveshaft also stopped one of the other hard charging young drivers in the Battery Town field, Mark Russ in the Giltrap Group team car, in the first race, the result Russ reckoned of a date with one of the chicanes on the fast but unforgiving street circuit.
Perennial hard charger Jody Vincent had a strong first race, battling hard with Courtney Letica and a recovering John McIntyre, but in the second he was slowed and eventually forced to pit when the engine oil and water temperature warning lights came on.
Having seen his car launch then land hard off the chicane on the back straight many race fans thought his trip to the pits was to check the suspension or drivetrain but Vincent said no.
"Definitely not. The warning lights on the dash were already flashing at that stage and to be honest with you it (the launch and subsequent flight across the chicane) didn't even feel that big. Obviously it was because everyone who saw it on TV is talking about it, but no, the lights were the reason I came in (to the pits)."
The Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup cars have joined the NZV8s, GT1 series and Toyota Racing Series single seaters on the support roster at the Hamilton 400 meeting this weekend with the two 12 lap races today and a final 12 lap reverse top six grid final tomorrow.
-credit: nz gt3