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V8 championship 12 years in the making

27 April 2014

V8 championship 12 years in the making

Nick Ross claimed the New Zealand V8 Touring Car Championship today after 12 years of trying.

The Cambridge driver ended his campaign in nervous fashion at Pukekohe’s ITM 500 meeting, where the Kiwi cars supported the V8 Supercars.

Ross needed only to finish the final race to secure the title, but his Holden Commodore started misbehaving.

“It was smoky and it got noisy in the car, I think the extractor popped off on the left hand side,” he said. “I slowed down then, I just wanted to get to the finish.”

The car survived and Ross had the title at last – after short-lived celebrations earlier in the day.

Ross headed off his main rival, Australian Jason Bargwanna, in today’s first race and everyone thought that wrapped up the championship. Bargwanna, the defending champion, had led the series coming into the weekend but yesterday the Toyota driver suffered two engine failures.

Later however Ross was demoted to fourth in that race because he had been going too slow as he led the field to the rolling start.

The last part of that race was run behind the safety car as officials cleaned up after a crash.

“I was hoping the safety car would come in so we could race to the end,” Ross said. “It would have been nice if Bargs had been racing beside me or behind me all weekend, but reliability is part of motorsport.

“It’s my 12th season in this championship. I’m pretty happy.”

Bargwanna said the two non-finishes yesterday had killed his bid for a repeat championship. In today’s first race he had been slowed by a mechanical problem.

“The power steering failed on lap one,” he said. “The cabin filled with smoke and I backed off so I could see what the problem was and then I worked out how to drive it without power steering.”

Bargwanna finished his season with a clear-cut victory in the final race, finishing second in the TLX category for the fast new-generation cars. Third was Hamilton’s Lance Hughes in a Holden.

In the TL class for the original cars, Hamilton’s Ian Booth – the category chairman and director – showed the advantages of reliability as he won the championship with just two race victories over the six rounds in his Holden.

“We’ve had no DNFs [non-finishes] all season,” Booth said. “The secret is the maintenance of the cars and I’ve got to thank my mechanic, Mark Dalton.

“He’s worked really long hours, there till midnight sometimes.”

Booth’s two main rivals, James McLaughlin from Lower Hutt and 17-year-old Brad Lauder from the Coromandel, both dropped back with non-finishes during the weekend.

McLaughlin, who raced for most of the season with virtually no sponsorship, finished second in the championship in his Holden, and Lauder held on to third in his Ford Falcon.

Booth finished second in today’s first race, behind the Holden of Manukau driver Kevin Williams and ahead of Auckland rally driver Glenn Inkster’s Ford.

Inkster claimed the final race, followed by Williams and Wellington Ford driver Brock Cooley.

Final championship points – TLX: Ross 1228, Bargwanna Hughes 1014, Shaun Varney (Auckland, Ford) 923, AJ Lauder (Coromandel, Toyota) 487. TL: Ian Booth 1043, McLaughlin 944, Brad Lauder 874, Cooley 789, Matthew Booth (Hamilton, Holden) 706.


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