Clean BNT V8s sweep for Kiwi Supercars star as weather wreaks havoc
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André Heimgartner has completed a (somewhat unorthodox) race-winning sweep at the opening points-paying round of the 2019-'20 BNT V8s following a wildly different pair of Sunday races.
The latter race was cut short as inclement weather hit the Pukekohe Park circuit. Heimgartner had been lucky in that case to have regathered the lead prior to the safety car and subsequent red flag in the worsening conditions after a sluggish start.
Nevertheless, the Supercars ace leads the point standings over the impressive Alexandra Whitley as the championship builds towards round two.
Good news and bad news kicked off the day for Heimgartner's main rivals. An oil pump issue resulted in Lance Hughes' Holden Commodore being shelved for the day's proceedings. Elsewhere, Nick Ross had been able to remedy his engine woes from the previous day. He started race two from the tail-end of the Class One grid, ahead of the invitational runner Sam Collins.
Ross and Collins were the drivers to watch for most of that second race, as both picked off the likes of Robert Wallace and Brad Lathrope to muscle into the top three overall. The hairiest moment belonged to Lathrope; almost spinning when Ross tried to negotiate his way on the inside of turn one with some minor contact exchanged.
Collins meanwhile pressed on, eventually passing Heimgartner for the leading spot — only to slow on the final lap. This allowed Heimgartner back into the outright lead and Ross into second, where they'd remain; separated by 1.7 seconds as Collins, Blair McDonald, and Alexandra Whitley completed the top five ahead of Lathrope, Wallace, Brayden Phillips (having spun at the hairpin earlier in the race), Eric, Hennephof, and Justin Mcilroy.
The final race of the weekend was also won by Heimgartner, but the race didn't quite go all his own way prior to its early finish. From pole, Heimgartner appeared to bogged down on the start line — allowing a fast-starting Lathrope to zoom from the second row of the grid and to the lead. By turn five, Heimgartner had dived back past Lathrope to reclaim first. And, Ross had marched up to second by turn four of the following lap having whipped by both Whitley and Lathrope.
However, the race wouldn't last much longer. It had begun with a dark cloud looming in the background, and this eventually led to a showed that glossed the whole circuit in wet. The race was quickly suspended under safety car by lap three, with a red flag following shortly after.
The field peeled in to trade their slick tyres for wets, but with the shower worsening officials decided to stop the race — handing first to Heimgartner, with Ross and Lathrope filling out the podium. Whitley, Wallace, Collins, McDonald, Phillips, Shayne Whitley, and Mcilroy completed the top 10.
It's understood that the shortened race three will still award full points to each driver.
Beyond the BNT V8s, Australian Jaylyn Robothem claimed both of today's wins in the Best Bars Toyota 86 Championship after surviving comprehensive pressure from the likes of Jaden Ransley, Peter Vodanovich, and Brock Gilchrist.
Race wins in the Ryco 24.7 V8 Ute series meanwhile were split between Glen Collinson and former NZV8 champion Paul Manuell. With his race one win in support, Manuell was able to claim the overall V8 Ute round win.
The BNT V8s now rest until February 7-9, when the return to Pukekohe for the second points-paying round of the season.