28th December 2001
PLAY CATCHUP AT TAUPO
a blistering start to the 2001/02 season the Wynns New Zealand
Touring Cars Championship moves south this weekend to Centennial
Park, Taupo to contest Round Two of the six round series.
return of Toyota New Zealand to New Zealand's premier circuit
racing class is further recognition of how the Championship provides
an opportunity for marquees to showcase their brands. And the
Toyota Altezzas piloted by Barrie Thomlinson and Phil Hellebrekers
stormed into the Championship for Toyota, signalling their intention
to extinguish Nissan and BMWs stranglehold on the Drivers and
Thomlinson never looked under pressure in the immaculately prepared
Toyota Altezza, going on to set a new Pukekohe Park track record
(1m 05.7431sec), a record that had not been broken since Toyota
last contested the Championship in 1995.
Park is about balance and manoeuvrability more than outright speed.
The Toyotas have shown they are blindingly fast in a straight
line, but Taupo's layout lends itself to a kart driving style
and the racing dynamics of front wheel drive cars. It should help
the other teams play catch-up.
will see the welcome return of popular driver Angus Fogg to the
Championship after piloting Team Kiwis second V8 Supercar at Pukekohe.
The Team Kiwi Nissan Primeras will be a major threat to Toyota's
dominance. The track record (42.12 sec) set in the Nissan by reigning
NZ Touring Car Champion Jason Richards underlines the cars competitiveness.
Always the bridesmaid instead of the bride, Fogg will push hard
to have his name join Baird, Riley and Richards on the Championship
Trophy. Watch out too for the battle between Team Kiwi's Drivesafe
500 winners, John McIntyre and Rhys McKay as they share a car,
hoping that their performances will impress team boss David John
and technical director Martin Collins enough to secure a full
time drive next season.
Williamson's International Motorsport have been on a rollercoaster
this season. From the highs of coming so close to winning the
Drivesafe 500 out of the box in the impressively built BMW E46,
to the lows of pilot Kevin Bell's disappointing results at Pukekohe.
Williamson acknowledges that the team will have to lift their
game if they are to stem the tide and regain control of the Championship.
hard work and determination of Aaron Harris and his dedicated
privateers has finally started to pay off, with Harris propelling
the team into second place in the championship. "We intend
to give those with factory support a real run for their money",
enthused team principle Rex Harris. "Having established a
highly competitive team we are looking forward to securing top
flight results and expanding the number of cars in the team".
BMWs are the dark horses in the Championship, with the potential
to reel the Toyotas in due to their sheer drivability. With Richards
very successfully stepping up to a full time V8 Supercar drive,
Toyotas re-entry to the Championship and new cars (and the controversy
over technical regulations that is brewing as a result) the New
Zealand Touring Car Championship for 2001/02 will be as exciting,
fascinating and entertaining as ever.
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Thomlinson leads the pack through Pukekohe's Esses. He went
on to take a maximum points lead
more information contact:
New Zealand Touring Car Website