It was far from plain sailing for Luke Youlden and the Powerbuilt Falcon at Round 2 of the NZV8s Championship at Powerbuilt Tools International Raceway in Christchurch today. A series of problems had plagued the team from the beginning of practice on Friday and unfortunately they continued today.
After an eventful weekend at Powerbuilt Raceway outside Christchurch, Holden driver and defending NZV8 champion Kayne Scott won the round, taking one of each of the top three positions in the weekend's three races. However it's Australian V8 Supercar driver David Besnard who is still leading the series overall despite a weekend filled with frustrating mechanical and on-track incidents for the Hydraulink Ford driver.
Following last week's revisions to the technical regulations to allow Holden teams the opportunity for slightly increased engine torque, Besnard commented about the weekend's second race when he overtook Scott: "The best thing about that was that I didn't pass Kayne on the straight [where the Fords have often seemed to have the power advantage]. We had some really good hard clean racing - it's good to race with guys like that - and hopefully now that parity issue is knocked on the head."
Star Mart Ford driver Angus Fogg was on pole for the weekend's second race courtesy of having completed the fastest lap time in the previous day's race. Scott, in his Fujitsu Holden, lined up beside Fogg, with Besnard and Paul Pedersen, in the Caltex Ford in slots three and four.
Fogg appeared to take too wide a line around the first left-hander, dropping back to fifth, then Besnard out-braked Scott to snatch the lead. Two Auckland drivers - Tim Edgell in a Ford and Kevin Williams in a Holden - tangled causing the race to be red-flagged. After the restart and various on and off-track incidents, the race was eventually cut short after West Auckland driver Andrew Anderson hit the wall after being bumped by series newcomer Ian Spurle. Anderson was taken to hospital for a check-up. Besnard was the winner, with Fogg, Scott, McIntyre and South Auckland Ford driver Clark Proctor making up the top five.
Points earned in the first two races, then put in reverse order determine the grid for the third 20 lap race. This put South Auckland Holden driver Kevin Williams on pole with NZV8 rookie Shaun Richardson in slot two. With an extremely wet circuit in front of them and hard-charging drivers like Booth and Mark Pedersen behind them, the pair pulled off the circuit to allow Booth to start in the front. Booth, like many drivers behind him, shot off the sodden tarmac. This left Cambridge driver Nick Ross in the Parker ENZED Holden in the lead until Paul Pedersen managed to out-brake him. Pedersen also suffered in the rain, losing about ten places with nine laps to go. Ross held off defending champion Scott for a few laps but Scott's superior driving talent saw him go through to take the chequered flag. Manuell also managed to get past Ross in ever-worsening conditions to make it a Holden one-two-three.
From the original 26 drivers who started, only 18 managed to finish in what series leader David Besnard called fairly dangerous conditions. "I'm not knocking officials, but possibly we should not have been racing. Most of us couldn't see much because of the spray and the way our cars fogged up."
With two stewards' inquiries yet to be resolved, provisional results see Besnard leading the series with 346 points, McIntyre in second with 337 points and Fogg third with 295. Scott is the best of the Holden drivers in fourth with 286 points and Proctor rounding out the top five with 256 points.
The third round of the Parker ENZED NZV8s Championship takes place in Taupo in January as part of the A1 GP meeting.