Tasman Motorsports Group (TMG) have clinched their first victory in the final race of the season at the V8 SuperTourers Mike Pero 350 held at Ruapuna over the weekend.
In what was a dramatic final few laps of the weekends last race, the #31 TMG Ford Falcon driven by Daniel Gaunt and Andrew Waite went from fourth place to victory after rivals McLaughlin and Murphy in position one and two had an on track altercation resulting in McLaughlin getting a time penalty, the position three car of Edgell also receiving a time penalty for blocking earlier in the race.
In just their fourth V8 SuperTourer event, the TMG car took the chequered flag in third place, however once time penalties were awarded to McLaughlin and Edgell, the victory was handed to Gaunt and Waite.
The win at Ruapuna follows on from a third place at the Pukekohe 500 event.
TMG Team Principal Steve Horne says it is very satisfying to have Tasman back at the front of the field after the team’s 14-year hiatus from high-level motorsport.
"It obviously goes to show that it’s not over until it’s over and those final couple of laps were not only exciting for the spectators but also our team watching on from the pit wall," says Horne.
"This win was quite special for us."
Earlier in the weekend, the #31 Valvoline/Autotrader.co.nz/ReplayXD/Shelby Auto Care backed Falcon showed plenty of speed during the opening practice sessions and Waite went on to qualify in 12th place, with Gaunt qualifying the car in 3rd.
In Sundays race 1 Waite start from 12th position, and after avoiding the opening lap chaos popped out in 5th position.
Mid way through the race Waite handed over to Gaunt, who then held third place until a rear differential issue forced the #31 Ford Falcon to stop on track with five laps to go, ending their race prematurely.
Once the TMG team had the car back to the garage it was soon found that as well as replacing the rear differentially, the gearbox also had to be replaced.
"We had a slight hiccup this weekend, with the mechanical issue in race one, but the crew did a phenomenal job to turn the car around and get it ready for race two."
Scoring the team’s first win in the series, Gaunt says he couldn’t have wished for a better finish at Ruapuna.
"I’d been telling the team after Pukekohe, that we can win at Ruapuna. We’ve worked hard this year improving the car every time we hit the track, I was confident the team would give Andrew and I a competitive car," says Gaunt.
"We were super unlucky in race 1 to not pick up a podium with the mechanical failure, the car was fast and we were catching the cars in front. The team did an unbelievable job to do the repairs in an hour and a half and get it onto the grid for race 2 – I can’t thank them enough."
"It’s great to finish the year on a high and to reward Steve, Christine & the rest of the TMG team for their hard work."
Waite says to come away with a win was pretty special.
"It has been a phenomenal season to drive for a team with such a professional approach. Every time we got out on the track I felt we progressed further and further up the field."
"This weekends races went well for us; it was a shame about the gearbox problems as Daniel was again doing a superb job as he always does.
"Winning that race is definitely my career highlight to date, I can’t thank Daniel, Steve and Christine Horne and the whole Tasman team for their efforts, they were the ones that gave us a race winning car."
Horne says the team will now look forward and start preparing for the 2013 season.
"I’d like to thank all of our partners who supported us this season; Valvoline, Autotrader.co.nz, Replay XD and Shelby Auto Care. Like us, they are all new to V8 SuperTourers and it’s great that we can reward them with some strong results on track in only our first season."
"The 2013 season is only 12 weeks away. This string of improving 2012 results will put us in a good position to have a serious crack at the championship next year."