Today’s first of three races for the 2023 Super Sprint MotorSport New Zealand Championship finale has seen Feilding’s Justin Allen take the win in the Toyota 86 category.
In a lights-to-flag result having set fastest time in this morning’s qualifying it was a bruising race – one of eight held today. The continuation of drizzly weather affected some classes more than others – the late afternoon Toyota race being one that enjoyed drier conditions.
Championship leader Brock Gilchrist, who started the day with a 76 point buffer for the title lead, lost some ground. Finishing in fourth place behind title rival Clay Osborne was a bittersweet – Sunday morning’s top-10 reversed grid race now favours the Matakana driver. Starting from fourth position, Morrinsville’s Osborne finished second by 0.253sec.
“I was happy with it – good points and we’ll see what we can do again tomorrow,” said Osborne. With two races left to decide the 2023 champion Osborne has one plan: “Just give it everything I’ve got tomorrow and leaving nothing behind.”
Third place went to 17-year-old Hunter Robb.
First race for the day was the 10-lap Central Muscle Cars. Christchurch’s Andy Knight set fastest in qualifying however it was Angus Fogg who took the win. With title leader Tristan Teki finishing seventh opened up the door of opportunity for those chasing his position.
The second race was won by Knight – Fogg retiring after a mechanical failure. This ended his outliers run for a chance at the season title and instead handed it to Knight. Teki finished in fourth – making it a tussle between himself and Knight for the season’s trophy.
Second was Cambridge’s Nick Ross.
Sunday’s two races includes a tribute to Mark Holland – who’s recent passing left a vacant position on the grid.
The Hamilton Asphalts Super V8 category was headed by TraNZam racer Kerry Jones – setting fastest time in qualifying. In the mid-afternoon 15-lap race Waiuku’s Kerry Jones took the win while Auckland’s Tim Edgell (Holden Commodore) stormed from 12th to second. Third was Tony Anderson (Holden Commodore). Both are in the V8 Open class.
Top TA2 driver was Huntly’s Peter Ward (Chevrolet Camaro).
RYCO 24.7 V8 Utes started with championship leader Greg Kroef setting fastest in qualifying. In typical charging fashion it was Jake Stoneman who made a move for the lead by the second lap – leading the rest of the field to the chequered flag. The result takes Stoneman a few points closer to the podium in the championship standings, behind Kroef junior and Greg Kroef – who still holds second.
In the Nexen Mazda Racing category it was Rex Edwards of Tauranga who won the opening race. But it was Wellington driver Simon Baker who made a major step towards taking out the national title.
Edwards, the leader of the North Island Championship, began the day by taking the $500 Premier Insulation Pole Award with a best lap in qualifying of 1.14.601. It was close at the top of the timesheets though with Sam Dashfield of Auckland just .137 of a second behind. Defending National and North Island Champion, Ben Stewart of Wellington, was third fastest in his first outing of the season with Warren Crowther and Leo Bult of Auckland fourth and fifth respectively.
National Championship leader Simon Baker of Wellington was sixth fastest, just .749 of a second off the pole time, while his main rival for the national title, Chris White Junior of Prebbleton could only record the eighteenth fastest time as he struggled with power issues in his car.
The first race of the round followed this afternoon and Edwards led all the way with Dashfield in second. Baker, meanwhile, was quickly into third place, a position he held to the end of the 8-lap race. He was followed home by Stewart, Crowther and Bult. Andrew Jackson, the 2017/18 National and North Island Champion was seventh while James Parker, Matt Horne of Masterton and Nigel Edger rounded out the top ten.
TradeZone GTR NZ GT1/GT2 started the day with 14 making it through qualifying in damp conditions. Headed by Kerry Jones he was 0.785 faster than Kaitaia’s Brady Wild (Holden V8 SuperTourer). The mid-afternoon race of 10 laps started without Wild – while Waiuku’s Jones swathed through the reverse grid field to win by 2.632sec. Second was son Nick Jones (Nissan 180SX) with Ant Te Rito (Honda Civic) third, 2.843 behind Jones snr.
The GT3/GT4 field of 27 cars has seen a breakaway in the title chase. GT3 points leader Sean Browne (Honda) set second fastest time during qualifying – but recorded a DNF following suspension damage when the lower control arm and sway bar link broke in the early laps. The result hands the advantage to Brian Gray – who finished the eight lap race in tenth place. Jamie Potts, who was second behind Browne also failed to finish.
Benjamin Goebel (Subaru Legacy) won the race and extended his narrow nine point lead in the GT4 category to put more space between him and Brian Hamilton (Ford Capri), who finished fifth.
Second in the race was Matt Henney (BMW 325i), with Shaun Gregory (Toyota Starlet) third.
NZ Sports Cars started the day with 16 cars in qualifying – headed by Dean McCarroll (Juno SSE). Getting the run on the opening lap it was Tim Edgell (Radical SR10) who then led the field to the chequered flag – by a whopping 13.844sec. Second after the 12 lap race was Mark Galvin (Custom Terra Fx) while Anthony Barker (Reynard Inverter) was third.
While better weather is forecast for Sunday the focus will be on finishing – to secure a championship season placing.