BNT NZ Touring Car Championship leader Simon Evans will look to hold his lead as the series heads to the South Island this weekend, where round four will be held at Ruapuna near Christchurch, before heading to Teretonga outside of Invercargill next weekend.
Evans in his Smeg Holden leads class one by 54 points over Australian Jason Bargwanna in his Toyota Camry and as the championship approaches the halfway mark says it’s comforting to hold an advantage as he heads into this weekend.
“It's nice to lead, but we have had a couple of bad races this season, so the lead could be bigger if it wasn’t for that. It only takes one DNF and I will be back in 2nd. So we must still keep on pushing for wins, but I believe the Toyota and Bargwanna should be quite strong at Ruapuna and expect them to challenge at the front,” says Evans.
Evans says he is relishing the opportunity to head south and the opening encounter at Ruapuna, a circuit he says he really enjoys.
“Ruapuna as a circuit is tight and twisty but also with a flowing nature. From the hairpin to the last corner you don't really get a rest, there is a lot of change in direction as you drive the circuit so set up is key.”
“In my rookie season of racing cars I won my first ever car race in Formula Ford at Ruapuna. That was many moons ago now but it's a track that I really look forward to going to. The crowd is always fantastic as well.”
Andre Heimgartner will return to the series in his class one Holden, fresh from a season in the Australian V8 Supercar Series. It is expected that with his recent V8 Supercar experience, the young star will be straight on the pace.
Christchurch based racer Eddie Bell will also look to join the series for the South Island rounds in his class one Ford Falcon subject to finalising a sponsorship package.
In class two, the points table is set to see a shake up with current leader Kevin Williams electing to sit out the south island rounds, which will allow Wellington’s Brock Cooley who is currently in second place to close the gap.
For Cooley, who comes off a round win at Round 3 held at Hampton Downs it’s all about keeping the momentum and delivering results.
“We had a super good round at Hampton Downs, which was off the back of a lot of hard work by our team, they have given me a great car which is making my job a lot easier,” says Cooley.
“We just need to concentrate on doing the best job we can as a team and the results will come. We aren’t concerned who is or isn't there!”
“I’m very excited to head down south; they love their racing down there! I have not raced there, so will be a challenge to learn the track with only one test session, but a challenge I am looking forward to.”
Newly crowned NZV8 Utes champion, Sam Barry of Waipukurau will join the class two championship for the south island rounds, campaigning a Ford Falcon.
The BNT NZ Touring Cars will race this weekend at Ruapuna raceway near Christchurch Jan 16-17 and Teretonga near Invercargill Jan 23-24.