Evans continues winning march in Taupo
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Evans wins round two NZ Touring Car Championship opener
Reigning series champion Simon Evans has extended his lead of the 2016–’17 BNT NZ Touring Car Championship after dominating the opening day of the ITM Motorsport Championship race event at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park.
Evans topped qualifying and then dominated the afternoon's race in tricky wet conditions, leading every lap to win by almost two seconds — a margin that shrunk after a late caution flag was brought out.
“The track was drying so you have to keep in the back of your mind not to punish the wet tyres too much. I did conserve there after about four laps just in case a safety car came out towards the end, which it did,” said Evans.
“The car is really good this weekend in either dry or wet conditions. I’d prefer it to be dry tomorrow but it's looking 50/50.”
Photo / Matthew Hansen
Second to cross the line was Concept Motorsport's Nick Ross [pictured above], ahead of Tom Alexander. The pair had battled on the first lap, then again after the restart — but Ross had Alexander's measure. Sam Barry and Lance Hughes rounded out the top five after their own dice on the run to the flag.
In Class Two, Liam MacDonald took the win — though it didn't look like the 18-year-old driver would take the win in the early running.
Former Toyota Racing Series driver Jamie Conroy lead most of the race in his Allied 24/7 Fuel Falcon — despite having never raced in the car on wet tyres before.
“That was my first time in the car on wets, so I had no idea what was going to happen. I just winged it for the first few laps, got a wing for it, and pushed ahead,” Conroy told Driven.
However a late caution for the stranded car of Nick Farrier bridged the gap between Conroy and the second-placed MacDonald — who then took the lead away after Conroy ran wide at turn one.
“When the safety car came out I thought that would be the end of the race, but of course they pulled it in with a lap or so to go. By that stage Liam was obviously right behind me and hunting for it,” Conroy said.
“Pretty gutted for the team, because they busted their arses to get this point, and it would've been cool to get a win for them. But it's not to be just yet.”
Photo / Matthew Hansen
Meanwhile for MacDonald, the win helps him extend his Discount Tyres Falcon's lead in the Class Two points.
“I was chasing Jamie as hard as I could, he was quicker in certain parts of the circuit and I was faster in others,” he said.
“It is my first time racing here at Taupo, so I’m pretty happy to get a win first time out.”
Simon Fleming, Brad Lathrope, and Rob Wallace rounded out the Class Two top five.
Two races remain for the BNT NZ Touring Car Championship tomorrow; the first coming at 11.49am and the second at 4.45pm.