The BNT NZ Touring Car Championship heads further south this weekend, for round five of the series at the Teretonga circuit just outside of Invercargill.
Round four held at Ruapuna last weekend was won by Auckland’s Andre Heimgartner in a Holden Commodore with championship leader Simon Evans also of Auckland and in a Holden finishing in second place.
Evans now holds an 89 point lead over Australian Jason Bargwanna in his Toyota Camry, with Tim Edgell in his Chesters Holden a further 84 points back in third place.
In class two, Wellington driver Brock Cooley has accelerated into the lead following round four at Ruapuna.
Cooley headed into the Christmas break close behind Williams in the point standings; however, Williams has opted to miss the South Island rounds of the championship this season so Cooley arrived in Christchurch with the opportunity to seize the initiative.
Weather conditions proved difficult throughout the weekend and in the second race of the round on Sunday morning Cooley finished fourth on a wet track in a car that was tuned the wrong way for the conditions and without the pace to pass the cars ahead.
However, he capped off a good weekend with a win in the final race later in the day after being turned around early on and then catching up thanks to a safety car period and some good car speed in the Speedy Signs Ford.
Those results meant Cooley and Invercargill driver Liam MacDonald were tied on points for the round, the overall victory for the weekend going to MacDonald due to his slightly better qualifying position.
However for Cooley second overall means an extended lead in the championship with 95 points in hand over Brad Lathrope of Auckland as the series heads to Teretonga.
Looking to shine at his home track will be Nathan Pilcher of Winton who will race his class two Holden Commodore.
“I have been racing on the South Island tracks for the last 5 years and have raced in many different formats at each one. Teretonga is one we always look forward to being our home track and also having local support as well, which helps,” says Pilcher.
“Teretonga is a fast flowing track that you have to be able to stay smooth and push the limits to get a decent lap time out of the car and even the guys who have done hundreds of laps there still find ways to make little improvements even though you are mostly past 100% commitment.”
The BNT NZ Touring Cars will race this weekend at Teretonga near Invercargill, Jan 23-24.