Gives Team Kiwi Their First Ever Championship Win!
by Tony Bunyan
The track was warm under a blue sunny sky for Race One at the
Pukekohe Park Raceway. Brett Riley in the International Motorsport
Castrol BNT BMW 320i got off to a great start, with Jason Richards
in the Team Kiwi Pitstop Nissan Primera in hot pursuit.
As the cars
headed down the back straight and to the hairpin for the first
time, it was Riley, Richards, Thomlinson and Bell. Problems
continued for the Harris Motorsport Team, with
driver Aaron Harris limping back to the pits before completing
a lap with a blown clutch. "The engine problems we had
at Manfield are sorted. Its just part of the learning curve"
commented a philosophical Rex Harris.
As the cars
pushed up over the John Deere Mountain Richards managed to tuck
up under Riley and overtake him down the main straight. "I
think Brett was a little surprised to see me take him on so
early in the race on cold tyres." said a beaming Jason
and Riley battled for the lead, further down the field Barrie
Thomlinson found himself on a lonely vigil in third spot. He
managed to break away from the pack, but couldn't close the
gap between him and the to lead cars.
a second BMW - Nissan International Motorsport/Team Kiwi battle
was being fought. Angus Fogg in the Placemakers Nissan Primera
made assault after assault on International Motorsport driver
Kevin Bell, on lap 4 running short of real estate and running
over the grass at the hairpin.
unable to match the straight line speed of Richards down Pukekohe's
very fast back straight or over the mountain, the Nissan Primera
stretching its lead.
On lap 6
Rhys McKay's patience was rewarded as he got passed Foggs Nissan
at the hairpin, Kevin Bell now firmly in his gun sights. As
the race drew to a close the Toyota driver had caught Bell,
filing his rear vision mirror, but not managing to get past
before the end of the race.
Riley (l) and Jason Richards (r) are Great Mates, but
on the Track They Won't Give Each Other an Inch
crossed the line almost 1.5 seconds ahead of Riley, with Thomlinson
in third and Kevin Bell holding out Rhys McKay for third.
thrilled with our win. Not only is it our first win in the 2.0
litre class, but its our first win full stop" commented
Kiwi's principle David John. "We see the 2.0 litre class
as the premiere class in New Zealand circuit racing and we are
determined to give it our best crack. We have had so little
time for testing. With more development time over Christmas
we believe the cars can only get more competitive" beamed
Wins in Two Races! It was Only Going to be a Matter of
Time Before Team Kiwi Started Making Their Mark in the
New Zealand Touring Car Championship
In Sundays reverse grid race Angus Fogg bolted from fifth to
place tremendous pressure on leader Jody Vincent through the
Esses. Kevin Bell also got away to an excellent start, falling
in behind Fogg. The close contact racing seen at Manfeild continued
with Aaron Harris in the Dynapack BMW 320i Coupe making contact
first with Peter Butler's Ford Telstar and then Rhys McKay's
Toyota Corona, the Telstar loosing the back bumper and the Corona
the front right panel.
at the hairpin between Barrie Thomlinson and Jody Vincent left
Thomlinson's Lexus without an oil cooler. Blue smoke bellowed
from the car down the back straight, Thomlinson pulling the
car up short to conserve the overheated engine.
NZTC Champion Jason Richards and series leader Brett Riley battled
their way through the pack, with Richards ahead until lap five
when he spun exiting the Esses. His wild ride across the grass,
the track and the kitty litter clogged the Nissan's engine cooling,
overheating the car and terminating the Pitstop Primera's race.
to avoid the mayhem and set out in pursuit of of Fogg and Bell.
By the last lap he was snapping at his BMW team mates heals,
but had run out of time. Fogg had pushed on, building a substantial
lead over the BMWs, crossing the line nearly six seconds ahead
of them. Fogg was elated with his win, quipping that it would
only be a matter of time before both Team Kiwi Primeras were
running reliably. "The car was still incredibly nervous
through high speed turns despite some changes we made to the
car" he conceded. "There was no rear grip throught
the sweeper which made it hard to keep the car on he track".
from Angus Fogg's advance to fourth on the grid due to his lap
time in the previous race, the grid for the 12 lap compulsory
pitstop race remained the same as Saturday's. Riley had been
starved of a win all weekend and starting from pole position
giving him his best chance of securing another 32 points. Unknown
to the other teams, Jason Richards joined the grid with a blown
head gasket, his priority and Team Kiwi's, to finish and gain
valuable points, rather than repeat Saturday's win.
Fogg and Bell' all got off the line cleanly, with Fogg harrying
Riley as they dived through the Esses and on to the back straight.
Richards quickly became swamped by the pack and the car's mechanical
problems looked terminal. Fogg was using all the track and more
to try and overtake Riley's BMW. But unlike the first race Riley
kept the door firmly closed on the Primera. The Primera was
still suffering from rear end instability through high speed
turns and twice it appeared that Fogg had completely lost control
of the car. The crowd was on its feet as Fogg careered and spun
down the grass verge of the main straight at well over 160 km
and hour. "I don't know how I managed to save that one" an exhausted
Fogg commented after the race. Kevin Bell had been getting quicker
all weekend and he capitalised on Fogg's loose drive to make
pit stops effectively ended the Riley/Fogg battle. Unlike the
Manfield meeting, there were no major dramas in the pits - only
coming out of them! It was the radar gun reader who determined
the race result after Riley, Fogg, Harris and Homewood were
all deemed to have speeded in pit lane and as a consequence
incurred a five second time penalty.
Riley crossed the line first the time penalty relegated him
to second behind his team mate Bell. "Its not how I like to
win races" reflected Bell, "But the points are helpful to the
team and it caps off a great weekend for me".