Youth vs experience: Kiwi V8 championship returns to Pukekohe
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Summer is here, which means that New Zealand’s leading circuit categories are back in action — headed by the BNT V8s.
Round two of the touring-car series takes place this weekend at Pukekohe Raceway, with Total Lubricants Nissan driver Nick Ross aiming to maintain his hold of the championship lead after winning two of the three races at the ITM Auckland SuperSprint series opener.
Ross is one of the most seasoned names in Class 1 of the category, as a swell of young up-and-coming drivers continues to grow.
After showing plenty of speed and aggression in the 2017–’18 season, 19-year-old Australian Jack Smith is back with fresh support from SuperCheap Auto.
A consistent run at the series opener, bolstered by a race win, is a sound early indication that the Gold Coaster is Ross’ main rival for the title. He also brings with him plenty of recent race miles, having just completed the 2018 Dunlop Super2 Series season (finishing 12th in the championship).
But, he’s not the only Super2 runner that’s joined the series. Brenton Grove made his debut (in the third of Richards Team Motorsport’s Toyota Camrys) at the Auckland SuperSprint, with a best finish of fourth in race one trailed by a problematic race two and three.
Grove was recently signed on in Australia as one of Triple Eight Race Engineering’s two Super2 Series drivers for 2019. It’s the first time the squad (known to most as the Red Bull Holden Racing Team in the Supercars Championship) has run in Super2 since campaigning an entry for Scott Pye — who now races for Walkinshaw Andretti United.
Smith and Grove sit second and fifth in the points standings (the former just eight points adrift of leader Ross). They’re separated by Lance Hughes and Robert Wallace — the latter having stepped up from Class 2 to Class 1 during the off-season, via an ex-Greg Murphy Holden VE Commodore NZ SuperTourer.
Mechanical issues stunted an otherwise positive first weekend in Class 1 for Chelsea Herbert. Debuting in the Richards Team Motorsport Toyota Camry that André Heimgartner campaigned last year, speed shown in race one was followed by a pair of DNFs.
The BNT V8s will be supported this weekend by a long list of other racing categories, making this one of the largest domestic race events of 2018.
The Toyota 86 Championship, NZV8 Utes, ENZED Central Muscle Cars, Tradezone GTRNZ, Pirelli Porsche Championship, Hi-Q Performance Formula First, SsangYong Actyon Race Series, Motul Honda Cup, and Nexen Tyre Pro 7s will all be in attendance.