In an impressive debut for both car and driver, Kayne Scott of Hamilton took the new Derin Greenslade Jaguar to a clean sweep at an exciting Round 4 of the GTRNZ Series at Pukekohe Park Raceway, south of Auckland this weekend
Scott, the current NZV8 Champion, was having his first outing in the series running in the fastest of the three classes - GT1 - in the Jaguar. The Hamilton driver was the fastest in qualifying on Saturday, won the opening race later that day after a great dice with defending champion Grant Brennan of Tauranga and then won both of Sundays races, coming through the field on both occasions.
After Scott took pole by a substantial margin he and Brennan had a fierce battle in the opening race of the weekend on Saturday afternoon. Brennan managed a new lap record of 55.619 seconds during the battle but his race was run when a problem with the left rear hub on his Brennan SB2 Corvette saw him pitched off the circuit and into the barriers.
After that incident and several others around the track, the race was red flagged giving Scott a win on debut from Dayne Running of Drury, struggling with gearbox problems in his Corvette, and Andy Greenslade of Tauranga in another Corvette.
The following morning Scott won again from a reverse grid format. Brennan who was testing his overnight repair work built up a good lead early on but received a time penalty for jumping the start. However in the car Brennan could only see the black flag so he pitted only to find it was advising him of a 5 second time penalty. Having lost several laps he returned to the fray with a vengeance. Scott had taken the lead by lap 3 and led Andy Greenslade across the line by almost 12 seconds with Calven Bonney third in his Monaro.
The final race, a reverse grid delayed start event, saw Scott and Brennan battling again. Scott got past but Brennan came back at him on the last lap, the final margin just .278 of a second. Papamoa driver Tim Rooney was third in his Mustang despite a collision with Greenslade on a track made slippery by oil. Rooney continued but Greenslade pitted for some race tape to repair the damage before rejoining.
While the spectacular saloons of Scott and Brennan battled at the front of the field, there was plenty of other GT1 action throughout the weekend. Aucklander Nick Chester was rendered a non-starter when he blew the engine of his Commodore Supercar in qualifying while Palmerston North driver Cameron Jones in his turbocharged, rotary powered Camaro encountered engine problems on Saturday. An engine change overnight brought no joy as he struggled with oil leaks on Sunday while Dayne Runnings gearbox problems saw him a non-starter on Sunday.
In the GT2 Class Harry Dodson of Auckland began the weekend strongly by taking pole position in his Nissan Skyline ahead of class leader Craig Corliss in his Falcon V8 Supercar and another Aucklander, Wayne Conder in a Chev Camaro.
However Dodson retired with gearbox problems in the first race while Corliss spun after 6 laps and could not resume. Conder came through to win from Russell Due of Feilding in another Camaro and Brian Gray of Tauranga in his Mazda RX7.
Conder then won the second race from Gray and Malcolm Glen of Wellington. Dodson retired with a continuation of gearbox problems while Corliss had electrical problems.
The final race went to a resurgent Corliss from Gray and Conal Dempsey of Auckland in a Porsche 911 while both Due and Conder retired after a spectacular collision. During the incident Due's rear windscreen flew high in the air just missing the duelling leaders in the GT1 Class. The windscreen just missed Scott and Brennan accelerated hard to avoid it.
Once again the large NZGT field supplied plenty of drama and three different winnners. Andre Cowan of Auckland qualified on pole on Saturday in his BMW 325i in a session where the first six were within 1.073 seconds. Kevin Hyde of Whenuapai in a BMW M3, Glenn Clarke of Taupo in a Ford Falcon BA and Cowan had a fantastic battle in the first race until both Clarke and Cowan succumbed to problems. That left Hyde to take victory with Papakura driver Geoff Clarkson second in his Nissan Skyline and NZGT points leader Brent Lander of New Plymouth third in his EVO.
On Sunday Aucklander Neville Findlay won the first race in his BMW Coupe, .817 of a second ahead of Glenn Clarke with the pair of Cowan and Hyde closing fast in third and fourth. Clarkson collided with Phil Jones of Wellington ending both their races.
The traffic in the large field proved too much for most of the frontrunners in the finale, a handicap race. Hyde had no such problems however, crossing the line first in his BMW. However he had broken out of his handicap so was relegated to fifth. That gave the win to Jeff Lowrey of Auckland in his Porsche 911 from Kevin Conder of Tauranga in his Nissan Skyline and Stephen Brown-Thomas of New Plymouth in his Subaru WRX who crossed the line close together. Meanwhile Lander was ninth and Cowan tenth.
The competitiveness of the category is illustrated by the fact that several drivers have stepped up a class as they get quicker as the series progresses. Conal Dempsey had moved from NZGT to GT2 for this meeting while Roger Fawbert began this round in GT2 before being promoted back to GT1. By the end of the round Glenn Clarke had also progressed into GT2 from NZGT as his lap times tumbled while Harry Dodson is another who broke out of his class times .
With another large number of entries rolling in it all points to another great spectacle when the next round of the series takes place at Manfeild in Feilding over the weekend of 6/7 March.