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Three Suzuki Swifts Battle for Saloon Series

Three Suzuki Swifts Battle for Supremacy in Production Saloon Series

A three-way battle for leadership in the inaugural one-make Suzuki Swift Sport Cup title has developed following close competition at the A1 GP meeting in Taupo.

Twenty-one-year-old Cody McMaster from Christchurch holds a narrow lead as the championship contenders head for the fourth round at Manfeild, Feilding, in mid-February.

But Brock Barrie, from Auckland, and Paeroa driver Mark Whyte are right in contention after spirited racing in the Suzuki Production Racing Championship at Taupo.

McMaster has amassed 602 points after three rounds of the production saloon car series, while Barrie has 579 and Whyte, 549.

The three races for the Swifts at the international Taupo meeting resulted in three different winners, with Whyte emerging overall winner of the round.
McMaster’s second overall placing was good enough to allow the young driver back in the championship lead. Cody says he is looking to increase his advantage at Manfeild.

Third overall at Taupo was Barrie, with fellow Aucklander Joel Thrupp fourth, all driving identical specification Suzuki Swift Sports.

Little more than one second separated the top five qualifiers at Taupo, with Barrie setting the fastest practice time of 1 minute 51.8 seconds. The meeting was a Taupo debut for McMaster, but he managed to take third best lap and was beaten only narrowly by Auckland driver Dane Fisher.

Fourth and fifth best qualifying times in the 92 kW Swift hatchbacks went to Greg Brinck (Auckland) and Mark Whyte.

During the opening race at Taupo, Barrie took out top honours, finishing 2.26 seconds ahead of Fisher. On the opening lap McMaster moved into second place ahead of Fisher but on the third lap the Christchurch car was hit on the side.

Despite being knocked off the track and suffering panel damage, McMaster recovered to finish fourth behind Whyte who finished right on the tail of Fisher who posted the fastest race lap time of 1 minute 51.429 seconds.

Cody started race two from fourth spot on the grid, moving into third at the first corner, and assuming the lead on lap 3.

But the result was never a foregone conclusion, with McMaster having to drive defensively to hold out Whyte. He eventually crossed the finish line just 0.136 seconds ahead of the Paeroa competitor in what was a photo finish.

Fisher set the fastest lap of 1 minute 50.821 seconds, which was not beaten all day, and finished third ahead of Barrie.

Race three was a reverse grid format, with McMaster battling his way through to lead the class by the end of the first lap.

However, McMaster received a five second penalty for jumping the start, and the race win went to Whyte, with Cody second, Brinck third and Thrupp fourth.

The seven-round Swift Sport Cup is now in mid-season with the final round scheduled for the end of March.


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