An epic finale is in store when the final round of the Nexen Tyre NZ Mazda Racing Series National Championship plays out at Hampton Downs International Motorsport Park in North Waikato this weekend.
After three previous rounds at Ruapuna, Timaru and Taupo, the result is delicately poised with the 2020/2021 National, North Island and South Island Champion, Simon Baker of Wellington, leading 16-year-old South Island Champion, Chris White Junior, of Prebbleton by just 7 points with three races over the weekend to decide the final outcome. Baker has led the points since the opening round but all will be decided this weekend.
Barring catastrophe, one of these two drivers will take the National Title with third placed Leo Bult of Auckland 100 points off the lead.
With three rounds down it has been a fantastic series so far with lap records at every round, three different round winners and at only one round has a driver managed to win more than one race.
Adding spice this weekend is the introduction of two former champions into the mix. The 2021/2022 National, plus North and South Island champion, teenager Ben Stewart of Wellington, will make his first start of the season after competing in GTRNZ this past year while another former champion, 2017/2018 National and North Island title holder, Aucklander Andrew Jackson, will also join the grid. Jackson was also third in last year’s National Championship. Meanwhile Nicola van Rooijen of Otaki makes her series debut this weekend.
The other factor that could add even more intrigue this weekend is the weather. Wet weather is forecast which could make conditions unpleasant and difficult.
Also to be decided at Hampton Downs, will be the Masters Championship where Baker has a 100-point lead over Bult and the Rookie Championship where Flynn Mullany of Auckland, a race winner at Timaru, has a narrow lead over Dalan Price of Rangiora and Warren Crowther of Auckland. MX5 Racing NZ will run as part of the field and their championship sees Dean Evans with just a one-point lead over Markku Braid and six drivers in total with a mathematical chance of taking the honours.
This weekend is also the penultimate round of the North Island Championship which is currently led by Rex Edwards of Tauranga from Baker with Bult third. While the North Island title race won’t be decided this weekend it could well be a pivotal round with just one more to follow in three weeks’ time.
This weekend’s action is part of the Super Sprint NZ Motorsport Championship. The massive entry of forty-one cars in the Nexen Tyre Mazda Racing Series have two practice sessions on Friday at 8.42am and 1.32pm, with qualifying for the round at 10.13am on Saturday. Race 1, over 8 laps, is scheduled for 1.59pm that afternoon with the final two races on Sunday, a reverse top ten grid race over 10 laps at 9.39am, and the final race of the round at 1.59pm that afternoon over 8 laps.
Photograph: Mad Angles Photography:
New Zealand Championship Points (After Round 3):
1: Simon Baker (Wellington) 350
2: Chris White Jnr (Prebbleton) 343
3: Leo Bult (Auckland) 250
4: Matt Horne (Masterton) 238
5: Flynn Mullany (Auckland) 236
6=: Sam Dashfield (Auckland 231
6=: Matt Dodd (Christchurch) 231
8: Dalan Price (Rangiora) 230
9: Warren Crowther (Auckland) 229
10: Elton Wichman (Auckland) 203
11: Steve Brown (Auckland) 199
12: Steven Spear (Auckland) 184
13: Phil Clemas (Auckland) 175
14: Anthony Tork (Auckland) 167
15=: Karl Gaines (Auckland) 151
15=: Shane Paget (Rangiora) 151
17: Alex Canty (Auckland) 132
18: Rex Edwards (Tauranga)121
19: Terry Edwards (Waihi) 92
20: Lance Gerlach (Auckland) 68
21: Nigel Edger (Hamilton) 66
22: Steve Fistonich (Auckland) 53
23: Jared Leith (Hamilton) 51
24=: James Parker (Auckland) 50
24=: Brent (Bones) Collins (Timaru) 50
26: Scott Davies (Rotorua) 41
27: David Atkins (Auckland) 40
28: Paul Leith (Hamilton) 25
29: Mark Stockton (Auckland) 20
1: Ken Thompson (Dunedin)
NORTH ISLAND CHAMPIONSHIP (Top 6 After 4 Rounds)
1: Rex Edwards (Tauranga) 463
2: Simon Baker (Wellington) 425
3: Leo Bult (Auckland) 398
4: Terry Edwards (Waihi) 356
5: Matt Horne (Masterton) 355
6: Flynn Mullany (Auckland) 350