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Taupō rewards Gilchrist, Steedman at race/drift weekend

Wins by Brock Gilchrist and Dave Steedman at the combined race/drift weekend at Taupō’s Motorsport Park – made for an exciting sixth round of the 2023 Super Sprint MotorSport New Zealand Championship.

Winning the weekend’s final Toyota 86 Championship race by a narrow margin, Gilchrist extends his overall lead for the title, adamant he’s only taking things race by race.

“It was good fun – and cool to get some more points. I’m still taking it one race at a time – not thinking about the championship,” he said after collecting the round win.

Chased to the line by title rival Clay Osborne, the margin for the championship crown has grown to 90 points.

In the day’s earlier race it was master driver and Taupo local John Penny who picked up the win, ahead of Dion Pitt and Tayler Bryant.

Auckland’s Marco Giltrap now has command of the Open Class in the Golden Homes GT New Zealand championship. Narrowly missing out on the opening race win, it was the cumulative points that elevates the young driver. Race one winner Luke Manson took the weekend win while Jono McFarlane claimed the GT4 class victory. While the racing was hard and bruising the two x 30 minute and one x hour long race was completed without the need for a safety car.

Race action for the TradeZone GTRNZ title has seen an overall lead change.

In the afternoon’s final GT1/GT2 class race a depleted grid didn’t diminish the action in the handicap-start 10-lapper.

While Kerry Jones worked his way to the front in his Corvette and out of reach of Wayne Conder, son Nick Jones ground his way back up the field, returning to his second place starting position by the fifth lap.

The fun run to the line by the father/son duo nearly came unstuck as Nick Jones poured on the pace when given the opportunity to run alongside his dad, finishing a mere 0.024sec behind. Todd Murphy’s Hyundai SuperTourer finished third.

Ben Stewart (Nissan Silvia) won the morning’s race from Kerry Jones. On top of the Saturday race win and qualifying result gave Jones the round win and enough points to overtake Conder at the top of the table.

In the GT3/GT4 class it was Bayley Walker in the souped-up Toyota Starlet who won the final race – stretching to a 7second advantage over the chasing pack of James Annabell (Dodge Viper) and Anton Bryant (MX5). Only just, as the Star Car duo of Jeff Sharp and Jordyn Wallace often had been leading the larger cars on the run to the podium – before Sharp lost grip of the final step of the podium on the closing lap.

In the morning race it was Annabell who took the win with Nathan Waka Harris second.

Sharing the limelight the day included run-off battles for round three of the Valvoline D!NZ Championship. It was a weekend to forget for the international competitors and Taupō local Connor Halligan – all were knocked out by the top-16 run-offs.

Although it was the upset ousting of defending champion Fanga Dan Woolhouse in the top-eight battle that opened the competition. Beaten by Tayler James, the result has shaken the mid-field standings. While Woolhouse still holds the overall lead, Kurt Blackie has narrowed the margin – despite a broken gearshift that left the team with seconds to spare before the start of the next round.

The final runs placed Tayler James fourth, Jase Brown third and Dave Steadman the round winner over Michael Forley.

Heading for the season’s penultimate round, the seventh event for 2023 moves to the Manawatu location of Manfeild – 14 to 16 April. On the schedule will be the Toyota 86 Championship, Golden Homes GT New Zealand, Valvoline D1NZ, RYCO 24.7 V8 Utes, TradeZone GTRNZ and North Island Formula Ford.

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