The new GTRNZ category served up a fantastic spectacle at the IRC Summer Of Thunder Tour 'Thunder In The Park' race meeting at Pukekohe Park Raceway this weekend
Many of the fastest, most radical, most exciting saloon cars in New Zealand are part of the three classes within the GTRNZ category. The GT1 and GT2 classes join together for their races while the NZGT Class has their own individual races at each round.
Noise, power and great racing were the main ingredients witnessed by spectators at Pukekohe this past weekend.
In the GT1 Class Grant Brennan set the fastest qualifying time and won the first race on Saturday before the opening race on Sunday went to Nick Chester. Chester had qualified on the front row of the grid beside Brennan on Saturday but an internal fuel leakage had caused his retirement as Brennan went on to win from John Rae of New Plymouth in his C5 Chev Corvette and Bernie Gillon of Tauranga in a Jaguar. However Chester had his Holden Commodore Supercar restored to top condition on Sunday to win the opening contest from Brennan and Rae.
Later that afternoon Brennan turned the tables on Chester, the Tauranga driver coming from the back of the field to beat his Auckland rival. Brennan admitted later he had "taken a few more risks" to get through the traffic. Chester was second in the finale while Rae again took third place. Gillon had a nightmare run in the Jaguar in the final race, initially being tapped into a spin by another car. After a precautionary pitstop to check the car for damage he was involved in another incident when another car did not see him. Another to strike trouble was Dayne Running who, like Gillon, was not classified as a finisher.
The GT2 races were equally as exciting. The Falcon V8 Supercars of Aucklanders Craig Corliss and Dwayne Carter made it a one-two in Saturday's race but on Sunday morning it was Mark Ross of Taupo in his Ford Mustang that prevailed. Corliss and Carter were second and third respectively before Carter gained a second win in the final race on Sunday afternoon. Harry Dodson of Auckland in his Nissan Skyline was second and Corliss gained a third. Earlier race winner Mark Ross was a non-finisher in the Mustang.
The NZGT fields were massive and this class continues to throw up new winners almost every time they hit the track.
Colin Meadows of Auckland in his Chev Corvette and Rod Pratt of Drury in the ex-Cam Hardy NZV8 car had a fantastic race on Saturday with Meadows taking victory. On Sunday morning David Brennan, the son of Grant Brennan, won the reverse grid, delayed start race in a Nissan Cefiro from Brent Dickson in another ex NZV8 car, this one a Falcon. Max Pennington of New Plymouth was third.
The final race, a handicap event included a safety car period making it extremely difficult for the faster cars from the back to get through. Maurice Shapley of Whakatane in his Holden Monaro made it through to the lead to greet the chequered flag ahead of Kevin Gurney in a close finish with Conal Dempsey third.
David Brennan was a non-finisher, a wire to the ECU unit bringing about his retirement as it had the day before in the opening race.
The next exciting round of the championship takes place at the Taupo Motorsport Park on 2/3 January.