ANOTHER STEP CLOSER AS BAIRD WINS FIRST BATTERY TOWN PORSCHE GT3 CUP CHALLENGE RACE AT FINAL ROUND Defending champion Craig Baird took another step closer to claiming his fourth New Zealand Porsche GT3 Cup title in as many years with his...
ANOTHER STEP CLOSER AS BAIRD WINS FIRST BATTERY TOWN PORSCHE GT3 CUP CHALLENGE RACE AT FINAL ROUND
Defending champion Craig Baird took another step closer to claiming his fourth New Zealand Porsche GT3 Cup title in as many years with his tenth win in 16 races on the first day of competition at the final round of this 2008/2009 Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge championship at Pukekohe this afternoon.
Though fellow former Carrera Cup Australia champion David Reynolds again pipped title rival Baird for pole position in qualifying earlier in the day Baird got the better start and led the race from start to finish, the margin at the finish line just over half a second.
That Reynolds tried hard to make up for his less than stellar start goes without saying - the young Australilan driver set the fastest race lap as he closed down Baird's early advantage mid-race - but as has happened so often in the past this season he simply couldn't find a way past.
Young gun Jono Lester did a good job keeping Baird and Reynolds honest in qualifying, being the only other driver to break the 58 second barrier, and in the race but a surge by Reynolds at the half way point saw him close right up on Baird and edge away from Lester, the margin between Reynolds and Lester at the line 2.7 seconds.
Fourth after qualifying in sixth place, was Daniel Gaunt, fifth series rookie Courtney Letica and sixth one of the other young guns in the field, Ant Pedersen.
Gaunt made the most of a sizzling start to drive round the outside of Letica to slot into fourth place on the run through the Castrol esses, but as the cars jostled for position Pukekohe's Jody Vincent and Australian driver Rodney Forbes had a coming together resulting in a dnf for Vincent and a visit to the pits for repairs for Forbes.
Further back in the the field a good start saw Wellington's Darryn Henderson get the jump on Mark Russ in the Giltrap Group car but Russ was back in front a lap later and ended up seventh with Pedersen a couple of seconds up the road and Henderson slowly falling back until the gap was eight seconds at the line.
Auckland driver Hugh Gardiner's was once again the first of the older 996 model GT3 Cup cars home in tenth place with Triple X team boss Shane McKillen in ninth and team member Rodney Forbes classified 11th after rejoining the race three laps down.
Heading into this weekend's final series points round Craig Baird had a 92 point lead over Reynolds and a 309 point buffer on third placed Daniel Gaunt. After the first race Baird's advantage has now gone up to 100 points with Baird on 1145 and Reynolds on 1045. Daniel Gaunt remains third with 815 points.
There are two more races for the Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Championship tomorrow with a second 12 lap race in the morning and a 16 lap top six reverse grid final in the afternoon.
-credit: nz gt3