NZ: Series Manfeild park Sunday report

REID IS LATEST BATTERY TOWN PORSCHE GT3 CUP CHALLENGE ROUND WINNER Aucklander Jonny Reid is the latest Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge championship round winner after edging out David Reynolds and series points leader Craig Baird at ...

NZ: Series Manfeild park Sunday report


Aucklander Jonny Reid is the latest Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge championship round winner after edging out David Reynolds and series points leader Craig Baird at Feilding's Manfeild motor racing circuit over the weekend.

Heading into the meeting, the fifth of sixth on the 2009/10 Battery Town calendar, defending series champion Craig Baird had a 135 point lead over long-time rival Matt Halliday with Daniel Gaunt third and Reid fourth.

After claiming the final step of the podium this weekend Baird has retained his lead in the series points standings heading into the final 2009/10 round at the Taupo Motorsport Park in a month's time. But a horror weekend for Halliday has seen the now US-based international slip to fourth in the overall rankings behind Baird, Reid and Daniel Gaunt.

With Reid, Gaunt was one of two fresh faces on the top step of the podium at this weekend's round, with David Reynold's making the most of treacherous track conditions to win the first race of the weekend on Sunday then Reid and Gaunt claiming a win apiece on Sunday.

Reid won the day's first race from Reynolds, Baird, Gaunt and Mitch Cunningham after getting the jump on pole man Reynolds at the start, then Gaunt won the reverse top six grid 16 lap final despite race-long pressure from Reynolds and eventual second place getter Reid.

Before this weekend's Battery Town series round Baird, Reynolds and Halliday had what looked like a mortgage on race wins, but Courtney Letica broke their grip with a popular win in the final race at the fourth round at Timaru last month and Reid and Gaunt followed suit today.

For Reid the win was not only his first this season, it was also - considering the competition - one of his most satisfying.

"Really, " he said afterwards, " it's fantastic. Particularly against the likes of Craig (Baird), David (Reynolds) and Matt (Halliday). You've only got to look at what they have done in GT3s, Carrera Cup, Supercup and the Battery Town series here, they are guys I hold in the highest regard and believe me, winning a race against drivers of that calibre is not easy. "

A point not lost on fellow single-seater graduate Daniel Gaunt.

Gaunt made his own move from single-seaters to the Porsche GT3 Cup-based Battery Town category two years ago, earning the Rookie of The Year title in his first year. But like Reid he has found that it is not easy competing against world-ranked Porsche specialists like Baird, Halliday and Reynolds.

"We've been close on several occasions and been there or thereabouts every other weekend but in terms of actually winning a race it certainly has been a long time between drinks, " he said.

In the Mothers 996 Cup category, for drivers of the older model GT3 Cup cars, young Wellington driver Simon McLennan won the round and retained his category lead in the series points standings, though he didn't do it easily.

In the end only two points separated him from joint round runners up Hugh Gardiner and Gene Rollinson but he remains six points ahead of Gardiner in the overall series points standings.

"It's certainly had its ups and downs, " McLennan said of the weekend, "but even if I did finish second to Hugh in the final race this is the first weekend that I've really been able to apply pressure and push him really hard on the track so from that point of view it's been worthwhile."

Apart from Reid's breakthrough run at the front of the field the final reverse grid race at Manfeild was also noteworthy for a fantastic race-long battle for sixth place involved Triple X Motorsport teammates Shane McKillen, Paul Kelly and Courtney Letica.

Team boss McKillen continued his strong run from Saturday leading Kelly and Letica until Letica finally managed to find a way past his teammates to edge away, eventually crossing the finish line in sixth place with McKillen seventh, Mitch Cunningham eighth and Kelly ninth.

Another driver to enjoy one of his strongest weekends of the 2009/10 series was Aucklander Andrew Bagnall who followed Kelly home in 10th place in the final race.

And Matt Halliday?

The LA-based international was again devastatingly quick in qualifying on Saturday morning, claiming his second pole position of the season from Reynolds and Halliday but had a horror weekend, his third place finish in the final race the only other bright spot.

In the weekend's first race his car bogged off the line, allowing Reynolds to grab an early lead, then he was hit from behind and sent spinning by Daniel Gaunt late in the race.

Incredibly, he was again sent spinning off the track in the second race, again recovering only to be forced out for good when his car's bonnet - damaged in the earlier incident - broke free from its mountings and flipped back over his car's windscreen, obscuring his vision.

That just left the final, in which he claimed the final podium after a lonely - but finally incident-free - race.

Race 2

In the weekend's second Battery Town race on Sunday morning Jonny Reid became the fifth different race winner over the five rounds so far held after getting the jump on race one winner and fellow front row starter David Reynolds at the start then driving a confident, defensive race to keep both Reynolds and a lurking Craig Baird behind.

Matt Halliday was right behind Baird as the field accelerated out of the first corner and through the infield left hander only to be hit from behind as he braked for the following hairpin.

No action was taken by officials at the time, but Courtney Letica was later given a 50 second time penalty for his involvement in the incident.

Up front Reid came under intense and persistent attack from Reynolds, the pair - and a closely-following Craig Baird - easing away from Mitch Cunningham and a hard-driving Daniel Gaunt.

Gaunt was forced to start the race from the back row of the grid after finishing a lap down - the result of a drive-through penalty and a puncture - in the first race of the weekend on Saturday afternoon. But he made quick work of the rear half of the field and had caught Cunningham by the sixth lap before making a successful pass for fourth place a lap later.

Behind him Triple X Motorsport team boss Shane McKillen was enjoying another competitive outing, having caught and passed slowing teammate Courtney Letica (who struggled with leaking radiators and a lack of front end grip after the early incident with Halliday) eventually crossing the finish line in sixth position with Letica seventh at the line (before the penalty dropped him to 13th in the results) and Paul Kelly eighth.

Once the penalty was taken into account Kelly was elevated to seventh with Hugh Gardiner back in front of the Mothers 996 Cup category runners in eighth, Gene Rollinson in ninth and Simon McLennan tenth.

McLennan was the leading Mothers 996 Cup driver early on but Gardiner was soon in front and pressure from Rollinson saw the young Wellington driver relinquish another position towards the end of the race.

Race 1

With championship points leader Craig Baird back in fifth place after the morning's qualifying session - held in cool, blustery but dry conditions - the first race of the weekend on Saturday afternoon looked set to be about who would finish second to pole man Matt Halliday.

The rain that had threatened all afternoon finally started falling as the Battery Town GT3 Cup cars lined up on the dummy grid however and when Halliday's car bogged off the line it was fellow front row starter David Reynolds who grabbed what turned out to be a lead he would never lose.

Halliday recovered his composure to tuck in behind teammate Jonny Reid and circulate in third place where he stayed until Baird eventually caught up and launched an attack on third place at the Higgins corner on the sixth lap.

Halliday returned the favour at the end of the back straight and entered the seventh lap back in third place and when Baird lost momentum out of the hairpin a lap later it looked like Halliday would join David Reynolds and Jonny Reid on the podium.

However Daniel Gaunt also had eyes on the final podium spot and clashed with Halliday exiting the first corner on lap eight. The contact spun Halliday, who was able to continue, but saw Gaunt summoned to the pits to observe a drive through penalty, then complete the last lap at much reduced pace due to a flat right fear tyre.

The result was the sixth race win of the season for Australian driver Reynolds, with Jonny Reid second and Baird third, three seconds up on Courtney Letica who in turn had an eight second buffer on the luckless Halliday.

TRS graduate Mitch Cunningham enjoyed one of his most competitive outings so far this season in sixth, after an early battle with Letica and Wellington driver Simon McLennan was again the best of the Mothers 996 Cup trophy category drivers home in ninth after running as high as seventh.

Also enjoying a good race in the Mothers 996 Cup category was young Aucklander Gene Rollinson who spent the last four laps of the race on McLennan's tail to cross the finish line in 10th place.

-source: fast company

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