One of the most exciting rounds of the BNT V8s Championship has seen a dream scenario emerge for the final round to be held in Hamilton next month
Nelson driver John McIntyre (Talleys Falcon) has won the overall round despite not winning a race in the Battery Town 200 held at the Taupo Motorsport Park today.
Hamilton’s Kayne Scott (Fujitsu Heat Pumps Falcon ) took 2nd overall after winning the opening race, while 17-year-old Queensland based Kiwi sensation Scott McLaughlin (Super Cheap Commodore) was outstanding in winning Race 3 to become the youngest ever BNT V8s race winner.
Victorian V8 Supercar driver Jason Bargwanna (Retko Falcon) won the day’s second race but was penalised in the final race and made to take a drive through penalty.
The championship points leader, Auckland’s Angus Fogg (LG / Newstalk ZB Falcon), had a day to forget but still goes into the final round with a slender seven point lead over Scott and McIntyre with Queensland based Kiwi veteran Craig Baird (United Video Falcon) also in the title hunt in 4th place after a frustrating day’s racing.
Race 1 was held in cool but sunny conditions over 10 laps and saw Scott dictate terms after making a copybook start then tantalising McIntyre allowing him to close within a few tenths of a second in the closing stages. Scott maintained he had a better all round car than his opponents and proved as much by again opening a safe gap to the chequered flag.
Bargwanna held off a magnificent Fogg who jumped up seven places on the opening lap then fought furiously to overhaul the feisty Victorian but to no avail as he settled for 4th to maintain his position at the top of the points table. Fogg’s superb performance was all the more difficult having to hold off a hard charging Paul Manuell (Orix Commodore) while not losing any ground to Bargwanna.
Defending champion Baird drove a lonely race for 6th thus dropping him to 3rd in the points while McLaughlin and Andy Booth (Rock FM Commodore) battled to record another top ten placing. Probably the drive of the race came from Christchurch’s favourite racing son Andy Knight (Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Falcon) who simply drove his heart out from the rear of the starting grid to take a superb 9th place. Andrew Anderson (ITM Commodore) finally found some form for 10th place after an infuriating Saturday of testing and qualifying where nothing seemed to work in his favour.
The first corner of the first lap provided it’s customary drama when several cars came into nose to tail contact with Penny sliding across the grass but recovering to gain four places while Short was spun but rejoined at the rear of the field. Penny’s fine effort came to nothing when he was again pushed off at the chicane dropping him well out of contention. Edgell’s weekend got worse after he was handed down a drive through penalty for a driving infringement.
Race 2 got under way in hotter conditions and it was Bargwanna calling on all his vast experience to power up the inside of both Scott and McIntyre to take the lead by the first corner. As Scott endeavored to regain his spot from McIntyre, the flying Manuell slipped inside both of them temporarily until McIntyre forced him back into line. The big loser from the frantic start action was Fogg who was nudged back several places while Baird also lost out having to fight his way back into contention.
McLaughlin took full advantage and somehow managed to move up to 5th without any contact or damage to again confirm his tremendous ability especially when he fended off strong challenges from Baird. Fogg’s race took another turn for the worst when a three way battle saw him lose out and escape across the grass at the chicane with Baird and Knight both benefitting by a place each.
McIntyre continued putting immense pressure on Bargwanna during the final laps but the wily Aussie was far too awake while Manuell’s stunning performance almost saw him underneath McIntyre when braking at the end of the back straight. So at the finish, it was Bargwanna, McIntyre, Manuell, Scott, McLaughlin, Baird, Knight, Fogg, Anderson and a rejuvenated Eddie Bell (Independent Fisheries Falcon) as McLaughlin earned another feather in his cap by setting the fastest lap of the race. Anderson later suffered a post-race time penalty for driving behavior which promoted a frustrated Tim Edgell (Chesters Falcon) up into the top ten. Championship front runner Booth was also disappointed to not finish after a steering arm broke.
The 20 lap full reverse grid Race 3 was an absolute V8 racing classic with several tough battles being fought as the top drivers battled their way through the field. Without doubt the brilliance of Scott McLaughlin was confirmed when he made a superb start to hit the front with seven laps remaining to take the chequered flag ahead of Andy Booth and Nick Ross (Total Oil Commodore) who put up another brave fight from the front of the grid.
Andy Knight again proved his credentials as he drove his heart out for Christchurch to take 4th ahead of John McIntyre, Paul Manuell, Kayne Scott, Martin Short (Zoagn Falcon), John Penny (Penny Homes Commodore) and a happy Simon Richards (Sew-Eurodrive Falcon). The race took it’s dramatic turns with Angus Fogg pitting to change a punctured tyre and with Jason Bargwanna being given a drive-through penalty for contact with Andrew Anderson. Tim Edgell also withdrew with technical problems making his charge for a top five championship placing all the more difficult.
However, the most influential moment of the race was Craig Baird not even making it to the first corner as his Falcon simply slowed at the rolling start and pulled off the track to record a non-finish although he still holds 4th place in the points.
The next and final round of the BNT V8s Championship is scheduled to take place at the ITM 400 V8 Supercar meeting in Hamilton over the weekend of 15th – 17th April.
Championship points after 6/7 rounds
Pos Name Total
1 Angus Fogg 944
2 Kayne Scott 937
3 John McIntyre 899
4 Craig Baird 882
5 Andy Booth 771
6 Andy Knight 770
7 Tim Edgell 698
8 Paul Manuell 673
9 Scott McLaughlin 585
10 Jason Bargwanna 568
11 Martin Short 507
12 Nick Ross 485
13 Simon Richards 474
14 John Penny 463
15 Eddie Bell 460
16 Andrew Anderson 459
17 William Bamber 293
18 David Hopper 282
19 Wade Henshaw 228
20 John Hepburn 226
21 Haydn Mackenzie 190
22 Christina Orr-West 188
23 Matt Lockwood 120
24 Dean Perkins 88