Takes Maximum Championship Points
by Tony Bunyan
the second year in a row, a new two car team has stepped
up to the plate to contest the New Zealand Touring Car
Championship. Last year Team Kiwi made its debut with
stunning success. This year it's Toyota New Zealand's
has been little fanfare to the entry of the silver and
red bullets. They chose to save all their thunder for
the track. Thomlinson's time of 1m 05.7431 in race trim
has set a new benchmark that teams will have to work
hard to better. The championship will again produce
the kind of close exciting racing that has been the
key feature of the 2.0 litre Championship. With professional
teams increasing in number, new models from Toyota and
BMW making their debut and priviteer teams looking to
expand into two car teams, the strength of the Class
continues to grow.
Thomlinson lead a revived Toyota challenge in
Because of the amalgamation of two classes into the
one race, the grid for the race was set with the 2.0
litre cars lining up behind one another in the outside
lane grid positions of a rolling start. Barrie Thomlinson
had the 2.0 litre pole postion, with V8 pole winner
Ashl;ey Stichbury leading the V8s on the inside.
take advantage of the V8s torque, Stichbury pulled the
field up and the cars got away to a very slow start.
Kevin Bell made a great start up the outside picking
off several of the slower starter as they headed down
into the sweeper.
Kiwis Rhys McKay suffered an oil leak, spraying fluid
over the rear of the car and sending his car into a
spin at the exit of the Esses. After getting a great
start Bell in the BMW 320 SP got caught behind a slower
V8 and watch Thomlinson slip further from his grip.
the midpoint of the race the faster cars had caught
the tail enders. This lead to carnage as the Nissan
Primera of Les Brown desperate trying to move out of
the way of the faster cars was swallowed by the V8 pack
and severely tagged. His day ended up against the tyre
wall at the exit to the Esses.
Browns Car Took a Big Hit into the Tyre Barrier
Hellebrekers was having only marginal more success with
the V8s, lossing his rear bumper but managing to keep
the car on the track. Owen Evan whose weekend had
started so well ended after the gearbox of his Lexus
IS200 failed. With so much drama on the track it was
inevitable that the safety car would make its appearance.
This allowed the feild to bunch up.
quarters of the race completed and it was Thomlinson,
Bell, Hellebrekers, Harris and Lamont. Both Team Kiwi
cars were out, McIntyre's Primera losing oil pressure
and forcing him into retirement.
Farmer was next to get ahit from a V8, losing his muffler,
the rear bumper dragged along behind.
the while Barrie Thomlinson had driven a supurb race
to cross the line nearly 6.5 seconds ahead of closest
rival Kevin Bell. His drive and the performance of the
Toyota Altezza were outstranding from start to finish
and gave him a maximum points start.
Race Two was shortened from 16 to eight laps because
of timetable constraints. The rolling start got away
cleanly and it was Barrie Thomlinson who made a break
on the rest of the 2.0 litre field, with Ken Bell leading