Brad Lathrope endured a tough time at the opening round of the BNT V8s at South Auckland’s Pukekohe Park, coming away a bit battered and bruised.
The weekend started off in the worst way possible ahead of Friday morning’s practice. As the team rolled the Dayle ITM backed car out for practice the clutch cable snapped, which meant he didn’t get a chance to go out and get any seat time.
Already on the back foot, Lathrope spent the majority of the 20-minute qualifying session as a practice run to get his eye in and see that the car was running smoothly.
After Friday’s troubles, Saturday brought even more. The 27-year-old started the opening race from the back of the Class One field in the worst conditions the series had race in for years.
On a very wet Pukekohe Park, Lathrope’s Class One debut started with a bang from behind when he got a hit from one of the Class Two cars.
“It was definitely a character building weekend for us,” Lathrope said.
“Everyone in the class struggled. The conditions were atrocious and I couldn’t see anything out of the window.
“The car was smacked all over the show, so I chose to bring the car in and save it for another day.”
With a DNF in the opening outing, Lathrope was back on Sunday for two more cracks at a strong finish. On a much drier circuit, Lathrope brought his Ford Falcon FG home for sixth in race two.
Buoyed by the strong result, Lathrope headed into the final race of the weekend from the front of the grid. The grid was determined by points for the round then reversed, which meant he started from pole position.
However, it was the worst place to be as he stalled his car for the standing start. The subsequent concertina saw series regular Lance Hughes collide with the rear of Lathrope’s car, which resulted in significant damage to the pole sitting Ford.
“Unfortunately I made a rookie mistake and stalled on the line for race three.
“A few of the faster cars behind us were having a little bit of a tangle and one of them had nowhere to go and found the back of the car pretty hard.”
With the horror weekend behind them, Lathrope said he and the team will put their heads down and get the car ready for the next round in a month’s time at Bruce McLaren Motorsport in Taupō.
“First things first, we’ve got to assess the damage on the car. We’ll take it to the workshop and completely strip the rear end.
“We’ve got to rip the panels off and inspect the chassis to make sure that it’s not too damaged.”
Despite what was largely a horrendous debut, Lathrope said it was good to nail some quick lap times when he could.
“It was awesome! After the first few laps of calming myself down and saying ‘alright, let’s go have some fun’ I couldn’t get the smile off my face.
“I was pretty ecstatic. Everything was going pretty cool and it really hit me that I’m starting to live my dream.
“It definitely wasn’t the way we wanted it to end, but that’s part of the game and is just an unfortunate thing for all the parties involved.”