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Besnard and the Blue Oval


It was Blue Oval time at Pukekohe Park Raceway, south of Auckland, last weekend, with Ford Falcons whitewashing the opening round of the 2006/2007 Parker Enzed NZ V8 Championship.

They qualified fastest, with Angus Fogg putting the Caltex Star Mart Ford on pole; and they won the races, John McIntyre taking Saturday’s in his BP Ultimate car after Fogg outbraked himself at the hairpin and Australian V8 Supercar driver David Besnard winning the others in the Hydraulink Falcon.

Besnard won the third race in devastating fashion, starting the full reverse grid 20-lapper from 27th and hunting down and passing reigning champion and pole starter Kayne Scott’s Fujitsu Holden Commodore in the closing laps. Scott fought back, digging deep to wrest the lead off Besnard under braking for the hairpin two laps in a row.

But he decided further resistance was futile: as soon as they got to the long back straight, Besnard would only blow past again.

Scott said his Commodore simply didn’t have the straightline acceleration and speed to fight the Falcon on an equal footing.

The Falcons weren’t supposed to be so dominant. Off-season changes designed to create performance parity between the Falcon and the Commodore and reduce what Holden drivers perceived as a horsepower and torque advantage held by the Ford, were meant to see both cars level-pegging.

Among those changes were a lowering of the Ford V8’s compression ratio to try to reduce its torque and its acceleration advantage.

On the dynamometer, that aim had been achieved, but once they hit the track for Friday’s practice sessions it became clear that the Falcons were dominant.

Friday was Fogg’s day, the lanky, cheerful Auckland-based race car engineer lapping fastest in both sessions, the Falcon in the low 61-second bracket. He was quickest again in the Saturday morning warm-up before qualifying on pole by 0.163 seconds from McIntyre who was making his debut as a team owner.

McIntyre was running the car used previously by Miles Worsley. Australian Luke Youlden was thyird quickest, in the Powerbuilt Falcon, ahead of the first Commodore runner, Paul Manuell in the Orix Holden. Andrew Anderson was the only other Holden driver in the top 10, gridding the Powerhorse Commodore sixth.

Scott, chasing engine problems that would see the team put in an all-nighter, was 12th,
just behind Andy Booth in the Tasman Motorsport Holden. V8 supercar team Tasman is backing Booth in the NZ V8 series, and the car is running in Tasman’s distinctive orange livery.

There were already rumblings about parity from the Holden camp; they were to
grow to crescendo pitch by Sunday evening when Commodore drivers circulated and signed a petition asking MotorSport NZ to take another look at parity in the light of the Falcon domination of the Pukekohe round.

Holden drivers said that if parity isn’t addressed in tne next couple of weeks, they wouldn’t race in Round 2 at Ruapuna at the end of the month. 

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