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Burdett fends off strong Aussie challenge


Trans-Tasman rivalry hit Christchurch's Ruapuna racetrack yesterday in the opening race of the 2008/2009 Toyota Racing Series.

Hamiltonian Michael Burdett get the better of Australians Scott Pye and Nathan Antunes to win the opening race of the 2008/2009 Toyota Racing Series at Ruapuna, near Christchurch, yesterday.

The Australians dominated free practice and qualifying, but in race one Burdett took the lead from the green light.

Pye said his car began to creep forward on the grid and he missed a clean launch, having to slot in behind Burdett. Antunes passed Palmerston North’s Sam MacNeill for third and leter got past South Australian Pye.

Antunes then pressured Burdett for most of the distance, closing up under braking for the tighter corners but the Kiwi would accelerate away as he exited. Pye ran third. Keeley Pudney and Mitch Cunningham formed the tail of the leading group.

Pudney lost fourth place to Cunningham when he dropped two wheels off the track as he strove to put pressure on third-placed Pye who finished second after passing Antunes with a bold move.

“I felt happy to be able to control it from the front, but all up the margin was too close for comfort,” Burdett said after the race. “Both the Aussie cars were right there.”

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