Champion's march continues with rousing Pukekohe win, as rookies share spoils
Smeg Racing's Simon Evans has continued where he left off at Manfeild Autocourse by clinching a convincing race one victory at Pukekohe Park Raceway; the final round of the 2015-16 BNT NZ Touring Car Championship.
Evans took pole position, then marched away with the lead and thus the win during the race, as his nearest rivals squabbled for the remaining two slots on the podium.
After third-place qualifier Nick Ross exited the race early following technical dramas, Chesters Commodore pilot Tim Edgell held onto second place for much of the 12-lap race — Mitch Cunningham shadowing him from the outset.
But late-race contact between the two drivers dethroned Edgell from second, and promoted ENZED's Tom Alexander into a well-deserved third place — the first podium of his rookie V8 season.
"I'm really stoked about it, it's been a long time coming. We've been close and we've had a lot of fourth places, but just haven't been able to quite convert it," Alexander told Driven.
"We've worked so hard, the whole team has. [The result] is really for the boys, they deserve it."
Tom Alexander was able to claim his first podium of the season. Photo / Matthew Hansen
Alexander spent most of the race fighting for fourth place with class one rookie Sam Barry, who fills in this weekend for Richards Team Motorsport's regular driver Jason Bargwanna. The Holden driver eventually got the move on Barry done after getting a good run out of Pukekohe's new section, before diving inside him at the hairpin.
"The car's not been handling as well as it could, but we managed to knock off Sam Barry and we had just enough to keep him out. We were a bit fortunate with Tim [Edgell] and Mitch [Cunningham] coming together, which gave us the podium — but I'll take any podium!" added Alexander.
Class two was a similar story, with recently-crowned series champion Brock Cooley taking the win, ahead of motorsport returnee Jamie Gaskin, with Brad Lathrope rounding out the podium.
The final two races of the NZ Touring Car season take place tomorrow.
1. Simon Evans 2. Mitch Cunningham 3. Tom Alexander 4. Sam Barry 5. Tim Edgell 6. Tony Anderson 7. Blair MacDonald 8. Brock Cooley 9. Jamie Gaskin 10. Brad Lathrope