12 April 2010
Another beautiful day greeted the NMC entrants for round 5 of the Championship. Sixteen cars lined up for another meeting at the popular Hampton Downs circuit hosted by the Auckland Car Club.
Qualifying saw Dave O’Leary in the Torana push the best ever lap times to a new level with a 1:11.4 fastest lap. Series leader Justin Butcher with his Falcon was 1.2 seconds behind with Tim La Trobe and Andrew Turner in the early 1:14 bracket. Paul Burnet was back in his very quick Torana XU-1 with a 1:16.7 to lead the Under 4500cc class.
Race 1 was run in the usual format with a grid start. Everything went pretty much true to qualifying form with Dave O’Leary getting away well and leading right up to the last part of the race. Dave slowed and decided to make it a race for the line which allowed Justin in the Falcon to sneak the win by only 0.2 seconds. Tim La Trobe has shown better form of late and took a comfortable third with Bruce McRae coming into the picture with a steady drive for fourth place. Paul Burnet drove well to take an easy class win. Hamish Andrews in the Commodore recorded the only d.n.f.
Race 2 was the reverse grid start format, which produced some good battles. Cameron Crawford led early in the Falcon but was caught on lap 2 by Roy Bingley in the Commodore six cylinder. Tony Van Tiel was the leader by lap three only to be passed by the flying Dave O’Leary, who not only took the win but surpassed his previous best lap time with a sizzling 1:10.8. Justin Butcher was there again for a close second, edging out Tony in the Falcon Coupe.
Steve Swann in the nicely presented Torana SS lost ground late in the race with a spin, as did Andrew Turner in the Commodore at turn 4. This is a great place to watch the muscle cars as this is quite a deceptively slow corner and the big cars seem to suffer from poor grip exiting this turn. Ron Findlay had his best effort in a while and took the Under 4500cc class from Graham Cargill. Engine problems saw the pink Torana XU-1 of Paul Burnet miss the start and have an early finish to the weekend.
Race 3 provided excellent racing with the full field handicap format. Adam Wheeler led the field away and had the first half of the race to himself. Cameron Crawford was keeping him in his sights but Roy Bingley was slowly reeling them both in. The back markers seemed to be taking a long time to catch the leaders but the action came thick and fast in the last two laps. Adam Wheeler did his best to create a smoke cover to slow the field down on lap 5 after what looked like a big engine meltdown. Bruce Kett kept us entertained at turn 4 while Graham Cargill in the Charger battled with Roy Bingley for the lead. Tim La Trobe had his best run of the day and stormed home to take the win with Cargill second and a very consistent run for Bruce Mc Rae third. Dave O’Leary missed a top three this time but still grabbed attention with the fastest time of the day with a 1:10.2 lap time, oh and did we mention the entertaining tire smoking starts!
Another entertaining race day with an unusual early finish, maybe we could suggest a free-for-all race to conclude next time. Check out the championship results on this website.