The championship battle in the BNT V8s gets underway at Taupo again this weekend, and following the opening round at Pukekohe, Australian driver Jason Bargwanna leads the points table having taken the round one win.
The 2000 Bathurst 1000 winner was buoyed by the performance of his Richards Team Motorsport Toyota Camry and is quietly confident as the championship moves to Taupo.
“After last season, we had a few dramas early on which hurt us, but we finished strong,” said Bargwanna. “Championships are about dealing with all kinds of conditions, weather, mechanical, whatever gets thrown at you, and we demonstrated that at Pukekohe.”
Bargwanna said that the addition of his new teammate Andre Heimgartner has immediately made the Richards team stronger. “From the first session, you could see Andre’s experience starting to show. He has a done a lot of racing now and can provide a lot of feedback on car set up and direction for the weekend and I think that will help us as the season progresses. The cars are good, and I think as a team we can have a strong season.”
Chasing the two rapid Toyota Camry’s will be Cambridge driver Nick Ross in his Nissan Altima, who sits in third place after a solid performance at Pukekohe.
Last season Ross had a great weekend at Taupo where he finished second overall and says that as he heads to one of his favourite circuits he’ll be looking to finish one place higher up on the podium. Chasing the three at the top of the points table will be Lance Hughes and Brad Lathrope in their newly repaired cars which were damaged in a start line accident and Pukekohe.
Also watch for recently crowned Australian Kumho V8 Touring Car Champion, Jack Smith, who comes to Taupo with a bit of experience at the circuit having tested here in November. Watch for class one debutant Matt Tubbs who will run his Holden Commodore for the first time.
The class two field will again be chasing reigning champion Liam MacDonald. MacDonald was once again the dominant force at Pukekohe taking a clean sweep in all three races.
“I’m really pleased, it’s the perfect start to our season,” said MacDonald. “We managed to keep it clean at Pukekohe, finish all the races and more importantly win them all.”
Sitting second in points is Rob Wallace, followed by Chelsea Herbert who is in her second full season of the championship. Herbert will be looking to put on a strong performance this weekend, having claimed her first pole position at the Taupo last year. Also looking to make an impact at Taupo are class two rookies Matt Podjursky and Brock Timperley who both debuted at Pukekohe in November having stepped up from Formula First and Mazda Pro 7 respectively.
The class three Invitation field is once again headed by last seasons champion Nigel Karl, and at Pukekohe he will be chased by a host of BMW’s from Andrew Nugent, Andre Mortimer, Matt Griffin and Warwick Mortimer.