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Gaunt wins Lady Wigram Trophy race

 

Defending champion and 2006/07 points leader Daniel Gaunt has won New Zealand motor racing's coveted Lady Wigram Trophy for a second time after dominating the feature 25 lap race at the third round of the Toyota Racing Series at Christchurch's Powerbuilt Tools International Raceway at Ruapuna Park this afternoon.

Untitled Document Defending champion and 2006/07 points leader Daniel Gaunt has won New Zealand motor racing's coveted Lady Wigram Trophy for a second time after dominating the feature 25 lap race at the third round of the Toyota Racing Series at Christchurch's Powerbuilt Tools International Raceway at Ruapuna Park this afternoon.

And in another excellent weekend for the A1Team.NZL Junior Development squad, Gaunt's young teammate, 17-year-old Shane Gisbergen, finished the feature race fourth after a race-long battle with reigning Australian Formula 3 champion Ben Clucas.

In winning the Lady Wigram Trophy for a second time (he won it for the first time in a Formula 3 car in 2004) Gaunt joins a very select group of internationally successfull drivers. Only nine have won the Trophy more than once in its 48 year history, with 70's great Graham McRae holding the record with four wins, followed by 50's legend Peter Whitehead, Grand Prix great Jim Clark and contemporary Australasian star Craig Baird with three and L. Moore, Bruce McLaren, Jack Brabham, Dave McMillan, Ken Smith and now Gaunt with two each.

After a brace of fourth placings in the weekend's preliminary races 22-year-old Aucklander Gaunt started the feature Lady Wigram Trophy race as he meant to go on, getting the better of fastest qualifier and fellow front row starter Ben Harford when the lights went out and leading from start to finish.

Wellingtonian Harford was the paceman yesterday (when he set pole position in qualifying) and in the first two Toyota races today, but he had no answer for the determined Gaunt in the Lady Wigram Trophy race.

That didn't mean he didn't try though, diving underneath Gaunt at the left-hand Hairpin at one stage, then putting in a last lap, last corner lunge at the Sweeper.

The first move got him alongside the A1Team.NZL Junior Development team leader but Gaunt stayed where he was to take the preferred line for the next corner, a right hander, and retained the lead.

From then on in the race looked like Gaunt's for the taking, the former kart and junior single-seater formula star crossing the line to win by 0.172 of a second - despite a last minute scare.

"I had difficulty keeping my tyres consistent," related Gaunt as a steady stream of well-wishers came up to congratulate him after the prize giving ceremony. "Five laps from the end I decided to go for it but I made a slight mistake in braking for the second esse on the last lap which allowed Ben to close the gap."

With the trophy his for a second time however Gaunt was full of praise for his team.

"I'd like to thank Lyall Williamson, International Motorsport and the Giltraps for sticking by me and the continued support is greatly appreciated. My win today is for them as much as it is for me!"

A key to Gaunt's victory was his front row start in the Lady Wigram Trophy feature, achieved after he set the second fastest race lap in the second race today.

In that race and in the first one this morning he finished fourth behind Harford, Clucas and last season's New Zealand Grand Prix winner Hamad Al Fardan from Bahrain.

Gaunt also finished fourth in the first race of the weekend on Saturday, which had been held over from the second round of the 2006/07 Toyota Racing Series at the same circuit late last year because of bad weather.

Though Harford qualified quickest, won two of the four races and claimed round victory today, Gaunt continues to lead the Toyota Racing Series points standings from Harford, Clucas, Christchurch driver Andy Knight, Al Fardan and Van Gisbergen.

Van Gisbergen was justifiably pleased with his fourth place in the Lady Wigram Trophy feature having got quicker and quicker as the weekend went on.

After setting the fifth fastest lap in qualifying the 17-year-old was far and away the quickest of the class rookies but ended up finishing sixth in Saturday's 16 lap race and the first two shorter (8 and 12 lap) races this morning.

"I felt I definitely had the speed," he said," but I couldn't get up to the front-runners because there was always someone slower between us."

His persistence - and patience - paid off though because by setting the fourth fastest race lap time in the second race he got to start the feature from P4 on the grid.

The plan then was to try and stay with pole sitter Harford and teammate Gaunt, however Ben Clucas got what Van Gisbergen described as a 'flier' of a start from behind him and the youngster found himself back almost where he started (in fifth place) heading into the first corner.

Determined that he would not let someone hold him up again however Van Gisbergen put his head down and drove round the outside of a surprised Hamad Al Fardan at the Hairpin, then launched an all-out attack on Clucas.

The good news was that Clucas was also trying to stay with the leaders. The bad news was he wasn't keen on relinquishing his own hard-won position.

"I definitely had the speed on him, particularly through Pot Hole (the high-speed kink on the back 'straight') and the second esse, because the car was fantastic, really quick there, but no matter how close I'd get to Ben I just couldn't pull off a pass," Van Gisbergen explained." I'd get up beside him but he'd block and I'd have to tuck back in behind. At least he was staying with Daniel and Ben though and we were all able to run at the same pace."

After the three sixth placings, the fourth place finish also helped van Gisbergen claim a place back in the overall points standings. He is now sixth overall, having been second behind his teammate after his impressive series debut at the first round then slipping to seventh after missing a race because of a freak axle failure at the second round.

The Toyota Racing Series now heads to Taupo for its place on the support roster at the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport meeting in a fortnight's time.

2006/07 Toyota Racing Series - Rnd 3

Qualifying

1. Ben Harford 1.19.891

2. Ben Clucas 1.20.094

3. Andy Knight 1.20.227

4. Hamad Al Fardan 1.20.235

5. Shane Van Gisbergen 1.20.341

6. Daniel Gaunt 1.20.456

7. Edoardo Piscopo 1.20.536

8. Earl Bamber 1.20.540

9. Nic Jordan 1.20.671

10. Christina Orr 1.20.705

11. Marc Doran 1.20.984

12. Nelson Hartley 1.21.039

Race 1 Saturday 16 laps (held over from Rnd 2)

1. Hamad Al Fardan 22.30.463

2. Andy Knight +0.696

3. Ben Clucas +3.735

4. Daniel Gaunt +6.207

5. Ben Harford +6.588

6. Shane Van Gisbergen +15.110

7. Christina Orr +17.911

8. Will Thomason +21.088

9. Marc Doran +21.911

10. Mark Russ +22.685

11. Ben Crighton +1m 18.217

12. Kenny Smith 2 laps

Race 1 Sunday (Rnd 3) (8 laps)

1. Ben Harford 11.21.265

2. Ben Clucas +1.610

3. Hamad Al Fardan +4.739

4. Daniel Gaunt +5.224

5. Andy Knight +7.608

6. Shane Van Gisbergen +7.737

7. Christina Orr +12.595

8. Marc Doran +15.051

9. Mark Russ +15.092

10. Nic Jordan +18.622

11. Ben Crighton +19.072

12 Daynom Templeman +20.024

Race 2 Sunday (Rnd 3) (12 laps)

1. Harford 16.11.950

2. Clucas 16.11.020

3. Al Fardan 16.12.550

4. Gaunt 16.13.910

5. Knight 16.14.240

6. Van Gisbergen 16.15.550

7. Bamber 16.17.700

8. Templeman 16.20.360

9. Edoardo Piscopo 16.21.450

10. Orr 16.25.610

11. Russ 16.30.240

12. Ken Smith 16.31.120

Race 3 Sunday (Rnd 3) Lady Wigram Trophy race 25 laps

1. Daniel Gaunt 33.44.895

2. Harford +0.172

3. Clucas +1.688

4. Van Gisbergen +4.321

5. Knight +6.093

6. Al Fardan +8.387

7. Piscopo +12.747

8. Doran +14.313

9. Bamber +21.141

10. Templeman +27.380

11. Orr +27.724

12. Smith +31.580

Round points

1. Harford 222

2. Clucas 194

3. Gaunt 183

4. Al Fardan 165

5. Knight 147

6. Van Gisbergen 144

Points after Rnd 3 of 8

1. Daniel Gaunt 562 points

2. Ben Harford 514

3. Ben Clucas 479

4. Andy Knight 442

5. Hamad Al Fardan 403

6. Shane Van Gisbergen 361

7. Christina Orr 306

8. Marc Doran 282

9. Mark Russ 261

10. Earl Bamber 248

11. Nic Jordan 236

12. Daynom Templeman 211

Calendar

Rnd 1 Nov 3-5 2006 Pukekohe Park Raceway Pukekohe

Rnd 2 Nov 24-26 2006 Powerbuilt Tools International Raceway at Ruapuna Park Christchurch

Rnd 3 Jan 5-7 2007 Powerbuilt Tools International Raceway at Ruapuna Park Christchurch

Rnd 4 Jan 18-21 2007 Taupo Motorsport Park Taupo

Rnd 5 Feb 16-18 2007 Manfeild Autocourse Feilding

Rnd 6 Mar 2-4 2007 Timaru International Motor Raceway (Levels) Timaru

Rnd 7 Mar 9-11 2007 Teretonga Park Raceway Invercargill

Rnd 8 April 20-22 2007 Pukekohe Park Raceway Pukekohe (Placemakers V8 Supercar meeting)


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