Simon Evans has won the opening race of the weekend at round five of the BNT NZ Touring Car Championship at Manfeild this afternoon.
But while Evans won the race ahead of Nick Ross and Jason Bargwanna who finished second and third respectively, it was two of the championships young chargers behind who cause the most drama.
A red flag was brought out when the Toyota Camry of Sam Barry collided with the Holden Commodore of Tom Alexander, sending Barry into the concrete wall of the front straight leaving him stranded across the track.
Speaking immediately after the race, Sam Barry was adamant that Alexander caused the incident.
“Tom rubbed me up out of turn seven, and pushed the guard into my wheel. He then got a run up the inside and as I came across he only had less than 100mm of his nose up the inside. He should have backed out,” said Barry.
“He shouldn’t have rubbed me up in the first place which caused the whole incident. What started the crash was what happened at turn seven.”
When asked whether it was a racing incident Barry’s reply was an adamant “No.”
Also speaking after the race, Tom Alexander said he did back out of the passing move but Barry continued to cut across his nose.
“Sam and I were trying to go two abreast through the last corner, I backed out of that dropped it down a gear and got a run on him down the straight,” said Alexander.
“When we got to the kink, he’s come across like I wasn’t even there and forced me onto the grass. He was hitting me, I got off the throttle but he just turned in front of me.”
Barry failed to finish the race; Alexander went on to finish fourth. It is believed that the incident will be investigated by Motorsport New Zealand officials overnight.
Back at the front of the field, and following the restart after the red flag period, Simon Evans lead to the flag relatively unchallenged by his rivals.
“I pushed really hard at the start, and probably used the tired a bit much but it was enough to hold on,” said Evans.
“Hopefully Sam is alright and they can get the car back out for tomorrow. No one likes to see red flag’s out, particularly at high speed sections like that.”
With rain to potentially fall for tomorrow’s two races, Evans is confident of his cars wet weather set up.
“I can’t even remember what it’s like racing here in the wet, it’s been so long since I have. It rained a lot at Teretonga last month and we had a good set-up there, so if it does rain we should go ok.”
In class two, Brad Lathrope took the honours after championship leader Liam MacDonald struck gearbox issues during the race.
Holding second place in the championship, Lathrope was elated to claim his second win of the season and to capitalize when MacDonald faltered.
“Really stoked to get the win today,” said an elated Lathrope.
“I’m sitting in second place about 150 points behind Liam. It’s unfortunate that he had issues today, he’s a good friend and I enjoy racing against him, but I have to capitalize when he has a bad race that I have a good race.”
The class two podium was rounded out by Chelsea Herbert in second place with Nick Farrier in third.
The BNT NZ Touring Cars have two more races tomorrow.