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Giltrap claims championship at Manfeild weekend

Auckland’s Marco Giltrap added a New Zealand championship to his collection at the weekend’s Super Sprint MotorSport New Zealand event at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon 14-16 April.

One of six race categories being contested at the seventh round for the 2023 season, Giltrap won the overall Golden Homes GT New Zealand championship title. The 18-year-old was one of 138 other drivers out for a weekend racing – the Manawatu turning on idyllic weather for a weekend out.

“It was a pretty cool race to be honest, it was shaping up to be a close finish, then the safety car got called and it was all on from there,” said Giltrap at the finish.

“We knew we didn’t have to do much,” he explained of the run to the championship title

“We were in a comfortable position to win the championship, the seas sort of parted ways on the restart, I saw a gap and moved up to P3 which was awesome. We only had to finish the race to win.”

Auckland’s Jono McFarlane won the GT4 category, again benefiting from consistency throughout the season.

For many of the race categories it was their second-to-last for the 2023 summer race season – and a pivotal event at determining the run to the finish.

The concluding race for the RYCO 24.7 V8 Ute category returned a Kroef to the podium with team dad Greg Kroef (Waikato) taking the final chequered flag from son Brad. Auckland’s Jake Stoneman finished third with Manfeild local Geoff Spencer in fifth. Stoneman’s performance put him on the top step of the weekend podium, surrounded by the Kroef’s.

In the Toyota 86 Championship, Matakana’s Brock Gilchrist tightened his grip on the championship title by winning the morning’s top-ten reverse grid race. Closest title rival Clay Osborne had a mixed fortune race, finishing fifth. Feilding local Justin Allen came home second with Hawke’s Bay 15-year-old Tom Bewley third.

It was intensely close in the third and final race with a group of seven hounding and taking turns for the podium. Then on lap 10 Katikati’s Ayrton Hodson left the track at the final turn – hitting the tyre protection barrier. The chequered flag came out under the safety car, Dion Pitt took the win, Osborne in second and Gilchrist finished third.

Securing the round win, Osborne now trails Gilchrist by 57 points with one round left to secure the title.

“At one point we were three wide – with Dion on one side and Clay the other,” explained Gilchrist of the afternoon experience. “It was an awesome race – the others were so fast.

“They aren’t making it easy but it’s awesome to get more points, and after yesterday’s result I’m stoked.”

Continuing their 2023 summer season, the TradeZone GTRNZ field had a number of competitors in the GT1/GT2 field retire with mechanical ailments. In the morning handicap 10 race Brock Cooley won from Nick Jones with the Ford Escort of Shane Murland third.

The weekend finished with the Tranzam of Kerry Jones first to the chequered flag, followed by the Mazda of Simon Barry and Palmerston North’s Cameron Jones third in the Mazda RX7.

The GT3/GT4 group started with 34 cars, thinned to 26 in the final race. The morning’s eight lap handicap start race was won by Kapiti’s Stuart Lawton (Mazda). It was a close call, with Bayley Walker’s Toyota in a  a mere 0.224sec behind and Brian Gray third in his Mazda. The afternoon race of eight laps was won by Palmerston North’s Jamie Potts (Toyota Trueno). Second was James Annabell with Brian Gray again third.

The Giltrap Group North Island Formula Ford series wrapped up their 2023 season with three races on the Saturday. It was a long shot by Palmerston North’s Blake Dowdall to overtake points leader Dylan Grant (Auckland). Needing to win all three races and claim pole position it started with the ultimate outcome however a third in the opening race made swung the title back to Grant. For his efforts, 15-year-old Dowdall won the round and closed the gap on Grant to within 11 points.

Dylan Grant left Manfeild the 2023 title winner, with a win and two thirds.

Also a round for the Valvoline D1NZ Pro Championship, the Manfeild embankment swelled with a younger audience vying for the preferred viewing locations to see New Zealand’s professional level drifting talent.

Leading the series, defending champion ‘Fanga’ Dan Woolhouse was on notice, having a hungry pack of championship contenders challenge his Ford Mustang. The Whangarei resident worked his way through the elimination rounds, making a spectacle of the top-two decider. The judges awarded the round win to Tokoroa’s Taylor James – who carved another chunk out of the lead that Woolhouse holds.

Tauranga’s Dave Steadman finished third – making for a wide-open winner takes all finale.

The Super Sprint series eighth and final round will be held at the Waikato location of Hampton Downs from 5 to 7 May 2023. It will be the championship decider for a number of the race categories, including the Toyota TR 86 Championship.

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