Teretonga round win puts Baird at top of V8 table
Queensland based Kiwi racing driver Craig Baird (United Video Falcon) has won Round 3 of the BNT V8s Championship at the ZOAGN 200 held on the Teretonga Park circuit near Invercargill on the weekend.
Baird was masterful as he plotted, schemed and executed some superb overtaking maneuvers to take the top step on the podium despite not winning a race. The weekend was a double whammy for Baird as he also left the round on top of the championship points ladder.
Hamilton driver Kayne Scott (Fujitsu Heat Pumps Falcon) was 2nd for the round which included a superb Race 2 win while Auckland’s Angus Fogg (LG / Newstalk ZB Falcon) completed the podium after his Race 3 victory. Race 1 winner John McIntyre from Nelson (Talleys Falcon) won the opening race of the day but a misfortune in Race 3 cost him any podium chance.
Wet weather greeted drivers as they arrived at the circuit on Sunday but a drying track soon set to rest any fears of a full wet opening race. The rolling start for the 12 lap Race 1 was orderly although McIntyre immediately capitalised on his inside second row grid position to move up inside Baird on Turn 1 to take 2nd behind Scott. Tim Edgell (Chesters Falcon) also made a good move under Fogg to take 4th while Eddie Bell (Independent Fisheries Falcon) slid partly on the grass running the outside line. Lap 4 saw the big move from McIntyre as Scott went deeper on braking into Turn 1 to lock up a front wheel and slide out allowing McIntyre into the lead he was to hold to the finish.
Behind the front 10 cars, a battle developed between John Penny (Perry Group Falcon), Andrew Anderson (ITM Commodore), Bell, Nick Ross (Total Oil Commodore) and Martin Short (Zoagn Falcon) were involved in a torrid battle which was partly resolved when Ross nudged Bell off the track resulting in Bell rolling over onto his roof fortunately without injury although the race was still red flagged as a precaution.
After the restart, Baird made several lunges at Scott but was unable to find his way through while the remainder of the field became settled with Victorian Jason Bargwanna (Rock energy Falcon) holding an impressive 6th place ahead of the first Commodore which was, surprisingly, Queensland based Kiwi teenager Scott McLaughlin (Super Cheap auto Commodore) making his debut appearance at Teretonga Park. So, the order at the finish was McIntyre, Scott, Baird, Edgell, Fogg, Bargwanna, McLaughlin, Andy Booth, Andy Knight and Paul Manuell.
Race 2, also over 12 laps, was another good start as McIntyre held his position while Edgell displaced Baird on Turn 1 only for the experienced veteran to regain his position exiting Turn 2. Another to make a superb start was Paul Manuell whose Orix Commodore was launched up to 6th position at the end of the opening lap but was passed by Fogg on the third lap.
By lap 4, Manuell, McLaughlin, Booth, Anderson and Andy Knight (Century Batteries Falcon) were locked in a furious battle while the contest was getting keener at the front as Scott began hounding McIntyre while Baird was also looking to challenge Scott. Under braking for the Hairpin on Lap 9, Scott went under McIntyre to take the lead after the leader appeared to have picked up some oil earlier in the lap slowing his progress.
On the next lap, Baird showed his class when he made a desperate move down the inside of McIntyre on Turn 2 with McIntyre rather professionally conceding the corner and settling for 3rd place. While this action was unfolding, Edgell lost his place to the flying Bargwanna under braking for the Hairpin to give the Victorian his best BNT V8s result to date. Scott drove superbly to win ahead of Baird, McIntyre, Bargwanna, Edgell, Fogg, Manuell, McLaughlin, Booth and a delighted Anderson. The result also saw Baird hit the front of the championship points standings.
The much anticipated full reverse grid 22 lap Race 3 saw plenty of drama at the start but settled into an orderly rhythm as the faster drivers worked their way up through the pack in difficult damp conditions. Before the race started, Paul Manuell’s lousy luck returned after he called into the pit lane with drive train problems while Andrew Anderson and Martin Short collided and spun across the grass and out of contention before the first corner.
The best move of the race came on Lap 3 when Fogg made a superb move around the outside of several cars to claim 3rd and set himself way ahead of his main challengers and take the lead from John Penny on Lap 4. The next major influence on the outcome came on Turn 1 on lap 8 when Simon Richards slid into the side of McIntyre’s car sending him off the track and out of contention although he did rejoin at the rear of the field.
Other good performances were put up by the repaired Falcon of Eddie Bell in 4th after what started out as a wretched day while Jason Bargwanna confirmed his ability with 7th despite almost outbraking himself at the Hairpin and losing some places. Tim Edgell did not have a good time in the final race as he was involved in an incident and ordered to take a drive through penalty was did Richards over the contact with McIntyre. The final race finishing order was Fogg, Baird, Knight, Bell, Booth, Scott, Bargwanna, Penny, Ross and McLaughlin with Knight driving a superb race to offset the disappointments encountered during a tough weekend.
The next round of the BNT V8s Championship will be held at Timaru International Raceway this coming weekend (January 22nd and 23rd).