Simon Evans and Liam MacDonald have won the class one and class two BNT NZ Touring Car titles respectively at Hampton Downs today.
Evans, in his Smeg Holden Commodore started from pole for race one of the weekend but lost the lead to the Toyota Camry of Jason Bargwanna off the start.
The pair battled throughout the 12-lap encounter with the lead swapping a couple of times, before a last lap error from Bargwanna allowed Evans slip through to the lead. Bargwanna finished in second place, with the Nissan Altima of Nick Ross finishing in third.
The win today handed Evans the class one championship, with his nearest title challenger Tom Alexander failing to finish.
“Awesome race, I love racing against Jason, he always races hard until the end, and we saw that today,” said Evans post race.
“I got a really good run out of the last corner on Jason, he defended into turn one and slipped wide and that was just enough for me to get my nose up there and grab the lead.”
“We didn’t lead a lap all day, but we lead the one that counts.”
“To win the Championship is fantastic, two more races tomorrow, which will probably be wet, so it should be pretty exciting to watch.”
The class two championship title went to Invercargill’s Liam MacDonald who also pulled off a last lap pass to take the race win from Nick Farrier. Rob Wallace rounded out the race podium in third place.
MacDonald had battled with championship contender Brad Lathrope for much of the race, before Lathrope retired with a broken driveshaft essentially handing the championship to MacDonald.
The 19-year old Southlander has been the dominant force in the championship, taking race wins at every circuit the championship has visited, some tracks he has never raced at before, including Hampton Downs. Today’s race win takes his season total to 12.
The class two championship win is MacDonald’s first national title in what is his first full time season in the BNT NZ Touring Car Championship.
“It’s bit of a relief, I don’t think it has actually sunk in just yet,” said an elated MacDonald.
“I have never raced at most of the North Island circuits, and we’ve picked up wins everywhere we’ve been. It’s been a great season.”
“Today, my car was quite strong towards the end of the race, and I just managed to catch up to Nick and slipped by on a part of the track where he was weak, at the hairpin.”
Championship minor placing’s are still up for grabs in both classes with two more races to be run tomorrow.