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Judge in the dock in NZV8 Touring Cars

Judge in the dock in NZV8 Touring Cars

The judge became the judged in today’s New Zealand V8 Touring Car race at Taupo – and he was found guilty.

Australian Jason Bargwanna is now the driving standards observer for V8 Supercars, which means he is effectively the chief judge for that series and decides on penalties to be awarded to misbehaving drivers.

But today Bargwanna found himself on the receiving end of judicial proceedings, as he copped a drive-through penalty for knocking his main rival, Cambridge driver Nick Ross, off the track.

It happened at the end of lap two as the two leaders approached the chicane at the end of the fast main straight, with Ross’s Holden Commodore narrowly in front of Bargwanna’s Toyota Camry.

Bargwanna touched Ross, who spun off on to the grass and had dropped to fourth by the time he got back on the track.

The Australian said that if he had been the driving standards observer at this meeting he would “absolutely” have penalised himself. “It was my mistake,” he said.

“I had a bit of a run on him and I had a bit of a look going into the corner, but I wasn’t in a position to challenge him,” he said. “But then the rear brakes locked up and I hit him.

“I didn’t mean to tap Nick – I didn’t need to,” he added, referring to his points lead in the championship.

Ross carried on to victory while Bargwanna’s speed carried him back to second in spite of the time lost in the drive-through. Hamilton’s Lance Hughes took third in his Commodore.

Bargwanna apologised to Ross, who was actually happy enough because he had won the race and reduced the Australian’s points lead.

“He only just got me, but it was just enough to turn me round,” he said.

“It would have been interesting if he’d stayed there. I don’t know if he could have got past – I was slightly better in a couple of place but he had good pace.”

Bronson Porter from Hamilton was rapt to win the TL category for the older V8s – his first victory at this level. He passed leader James McLaughlin from Lower Hutt late in the race, both driving Holdens.

“We set the tyre pressure so that the car would be fast late in the race,” Porter, 23, said. “I could see James’ tyres going off.

“We’ve been getting faster through the season, getting to understand the car better.”

Wellington’s Jamie McNee increased his lead in the Toyota Finance 86 championship with victory in a hard-fought race during which he overshot the chicane and speared off across the grass at one point.

He regained the track and held the lead till the end despite strong pressure from Aucklander Ashley Blewett and Christchurch driver Tom Alexander.

“I’m a bit surprised to win, coming from fifth [on the starting grid],” McNee said.

“Some things went in my favour,” he added, referring to mistakes by drivers in front of him.

Aucklander Andrew Waite seized the lead at one stage with a nice move into the chicane at the end of the main straight, but two corners later he took a hit from behind causing damage that forced him out of the race.

“It’s frustrating when you get people trying to prove themselves and going outside their ability,” Waite, who also suffered a collision in the previous round at Manfeild, said.

Jamie Conroy put one hand on the NZ Formula Ford championship trophy with yet another commanding victory in his race today. This championship concludes tomorrow.

The Invercargill rookie, 22, qualified on pole but got off to a relatively slow start because of a minor clutch problem. Tauranga racer Kim Crocker seized the lead but a mistake on the first lap allowed Conroy in front and he kept pulling away from the field.

Conroy said he was enjoying his first visit to the Taupo track: “You have to attack the corners, throw the car into them,” he said.

Michael Collins was second in the race and remains second in the championship. Fellow Christchurch driver Aaron Yardley took third.


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