GTRNZ found its champions for the 2009/2010 motor racing season at the final round of the championship at the Taupo Motorsport Park this weekend
Tauranga driver Grant Brennan sealed the GT1 Class title in the opening race of the round on Saturday while the other two classes - GT2 and NZGT - went all the way to the final race. Wayne Conder of Auckland took the GT2 title by a slender margin as the man he was battling for the championship, fellow Aucklander Craig Corliss, sat in the infield after his Falcon failed him in the final race. In the NZGT Class another Auckland driver Andre Cowan secured the championship in his ex-Craig Baird and Jason Richards BMW 325.
Brennan sealed the GT1 title in the first race of the round after an exciting contest. Drury driver Dayne Running in a Chev Corvette led out of the first corner but Brennan took the lead on the second lap and led a brilliant battle ahead of Andy Greenslade of Tauranga in a Chev Corvette, Running and fastest qualifier Cameron Jones in his Mazda rotary powered Chev Camaro known as a Mazda RX666. However with just two laps to go the Brennan SB2 Corvette slowed allowing Greenslade through for the win. Running crossed the line second although he was penalised for jumping the start giving Brennan the position, good enough to seal the championship. Jones was third with Running dropping to fourth. Tim Rooney of Papamoa was fifth in his Mustang while John Rae of New Plymouth charged back through the field after being spun at the first corner to seize sixth place in his Corvette.
The first corner had spoiled things for John Rae in Saturdays race and in the second race of the round on Sunday morning it caused more strife. This time the throttle on the turbocharged Mazda RX7 of Mark Burgess jammed and that caused a ripple effect. Worst affected was new champion Brennan who was knocked into the back of Tony Stewarts Mazda RX7 turbo, doing much damage including the breaking of a suspension arm on the Corvette. Brennan retired while Stewart and Burgess were also both effectively out of the running. As the race unfolded it was Rae in front leading from Greenslade and Running. It was a good clash, all three running in close company early on. Rae was the fastest of the trio while Running gradually lost touch. Rae went on to win from Greenslade and Running while Jones was fourth ahead of Rooney.
To the finale and another excellent race. Rae, Running and Brennan worked their way through the field with Brennan passing Running and catching Rae only to spin. The new champion had been down on power all weekend and had compensated by braking late and cornering fast and simply "overdid it". Brennan pitted while Rae, Running, Greenslade and Jones continued on with a fantastic race at the front. However with two laps to go Running went off at the first corner beaching the Corvette. Rae looked on track to take his second win of the round but at the final corner Greenslade got by and took victory from Rae and Jones.
"It has been fierce competition, a great battle, by no means was it easy," said Brennan. An engine problem had been discovered just prior to the meeting and makeshift repairs had been carried out.
The GT2 Class title went to Wayne Conder after three great races. On Saturday Craig Corliss qualified his AU Falcon V8 Supercar fastest and led for 2/3 of the race before Conder got by in his Chev Camaro to win the race, setting a new GT2 lap record on the way. Roger Fawbert of Upper Hutt was third in his Camaro. The following morning Corliss reversed the previous days result winning from Conder and Fawbert who was followed by Brian Gray of Tauranga (Mazda RX7), Te Puke driver Peter Stewart (Cortina Chev) and Glenn Clarke.
The championship was decided on the finale when Corliss suffered a drivetrain problem leaving Conder to take victory in the race and the championship. Fawbert was second on the track followed by Gray, Chris Coleman in a Honda Prelude and Jon Telford of Dannevirke in his Lexus V8 powered Mitsubishi GTO who had been promoted to GT2 after breaking out of his lap time window in NZGT twice over the weekend.
Conder enjoyed the series immensely and said "it was bad luck for Craig but it proves it isn't over until it's over. I had engine issues at the first and second rounds and a clash at the last Pukekohe round but we got over the hurdles."
As in GT2 the NZGT Class was hard fought until the end. Jon Telford was the first to greet the chequered flag in the opening race but received a 10 second penalty for breaking out of his lap time window. That dropped him to seventh giving victory to championship contender Andre Cowan of Auckland in a BMW 325. Brock Cooley of Wellington was second in his Mitsubishi EVO followed by championship leader Brent Lander of New Plymouth. Mount Maunganui driver Grant Crosby was next in his Holden Commodore.
On Sunday Porsche 911 pilot Jon Garty of Beachlands in Auckland won the first contest but as with Telford the day before he had exceeded his allowable lap time for the class and was penalised 20 seconds, dropping to 7th. Telford also attracted another penalty. That left newcomer Reece Killingback in a WRX Sti powered Hillman Imp to take victory from another debutant, Richard Grainger in an EVO ahead of Stephen Brown-Thomas, Crosby and Cowan. Into the all important final race and again the first across the line, Greg Holden of Auckland in his XA Falcon Coupe, broke out of his lap times and was penalised 30 seconds, leaving Brett Harris in a Nissan Skyline to take the win from Brock Cooley and Brown-Thomas. Crosby was next ahead of Paul Bass of Wanganui in a turbocharged RX7, Killingback and Cowan.
Lander had led the points into the final round but Cowan with a win, a fifth placing and a seventh was the most consistent of the contenders and the NZGT Championship went to the Aucklander.