Young Tauranga racing driver Richie Stanaway has once again made a winning debut in a new category.
Stanaway, 19, who is one of 12 drivers selected as part of the inaugural FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy, dominated the opening round of the German Formula 3 Championship over Easter weekend.
The graduation to German F3 has followed Stanaway's victory in the ADAC Formula Masters series in Germany last year. He is driving a Dallara-Volkswagen for the Dutch team Van Amersfoort Racing.
The double-header series opener at Oschersleben on Sunday and Monday saw Stanaway qualify second fastest for both races.
On Sunday he ran away with the 22-lap race to win by 10.4s. His nearest rival was Tom Blomqvist, the son of former world rally champion Stig Blomqvist who grew up in Auckland and made his start in motor racing in Kiwi karting.
In Monday's race, Stanaway finished 3.9s clear of Denmark's Marco Sorensen.
Stanaway leads the series with 22 points - 10 points each for the wins plus bonus points for setting the fastest lap in each race - from Sorenson on 14 and Blomqvist with 9 points.
The 20-car field for the opening F3 round also involved drivers from Germany, Austria, Russia, Estonia, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Israel. Former winners of the German F3 title include current F1 drivers Michael Schumacher and Nick Heidfeld, McLaren test driver Gary Paffett and eight times Le Mans 24 Hours winner Tom Kristensen.
The next round of the championship is May 6-7 at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium supporting the second round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup.
Honda Integra driver Justin Herbert (Tauranga) completed an impressive fightback by claiming maximum points from the final round of the Motul SS2000 championship to clinch the title at Taupo on Sunday.
Herbert's title bid had suffered a set-back when he was pushed off the track by guest driver Earl Bamber in the first race of the penultimate round at Hampton Downs last month.
He went into the final round trailing the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo of series leader David Geraghty (New Plymouth) by 47 points and was 25 points behind second-placed Phil Brown (Toyota Corolla).
After qualifying the Speed Factor Honda Integra on pole position Herbert finished second behind South Island driver Matt Dunn in the opening race. However he claimed maximum points as the South Islanders weren't contesting the series.
While Geraghty and Brown both experienced trouble on Sunday, Herbert was in top form slicing through the traffic in the handicap races to win both races and re-set the Taupo lap record.
"I knew after the setback at Hampton Downs that I had to put my head down and win as much as possible," said Herbert.
"With a little bit of luck on our side it worked out and to win the SS2000 title at our first attempt is something we're really happy about." It took Herbert's record to 10 wins from 21 starts and he won the series by 42 points from Brown with Geraghty slipping back to third place.
The impressive thing about Herbert's win tally is that two-thirds of the SS2000 races are a handicap format where he usually starts more than a minute behind the first car with about 30 other drivers to pass.
"In traffic the karting experience where you have to make your move or you fall behind really helps," said Herbert.
Herbert also won the 1601-2000cc class and the Honda Challenge category raced within the SS2000 series.
Eighth in the championship was Tauranga's Richard Gee who was runner-up in the 0-1600cc class and won the 1600cc class of the Honda Challenge in his Honda Civic.
Te Puke teenager Michael Scott finished the Formula First season in seventh overall with a final round effort that produced two sixth and one seventh placings. Mt Maunganui's Jason Carter was 14th overall but had a strong final round with an eighth and two ninth placings.
Also taking race wins at Taupo were Tauranga's Andy Greenslade (Jaguar XKR) and Brian Gray (Mazda RX-7) in the GT1 and GT2 categories respectively of the GTRNZ series finale.
Tauranga's Peter Stevenson (Falcon) and Jamie Warn (Holden) were Pre-65 race winners and Reece Killingback claimed a GTNZ race win in his Subaru powered Imp. Those classes have yet to post any final championship results.
Baypark racer Chris Cowling finished second at the East Coast Saloon Car Champs at Napier's Meeanee Speedway on Good Friday.
Driving his new Pro-X Corvette, Cowling scored a fourth, third and first in the three race contest to finish three points behind Wellington racer Alan Jacob with Baypark's Paul Managh finishing fourth in the 16-car field.
Tauranga's Wayne Pittams claimed a debut win in his new Subaru Impreza at the Old Kaimai Rd gravel hillclimb run by Motorsport BOP on Sunday.
Pittams was using the event as a shakedown in the ex-Callum McInnes Impreza ahead of the Possum Bourne Memorial Rally on May 7.
His best run on the tight 2.2km course was 1m 54.21s which gave him a three second margin over Doug Adnitt in another Subaru.
Fifth-placed Phil Campbell the quickest of the 2WD runners in his Ford Fiesta ST.
The next event on the Motorsport BOP calendar is the Hillclimb Challenge with a gravel event at MacDougall Quarry Rd, Pukehina on April 15, followed by the tarmac leg at Te Puke Quarry Rd on May 22.
Motorsport BOP Old Kaimai Rd Hillclimb - results:
1 Wayne Pittams (Subaru Impreza WRX) 1m 54.21s; 2 Doug Adnitt (Subaru Impreza WRX) 1m 57.21s; 3 Ian Wood (Subaru Impreza WRX) 1m 59.78s; 4 Paul Muldoon (Subaru Impreza WRX) 2m 00.60s; 5 Phil Campbell (Ford Fiesta ST) 2m 02.58s; 6 Hayden Wise (Mazda 323 GTX) 2m 05.22s; 7 Ben Thomasen (Mitsubishi Lancer) 2m 06.19s; 8 Andrew Shrimpton (Ford Escort) 2m 07.56s; 8 Tim Webb (Toyota Starlet) 2m 12.03s; 9 Ross MacDonald (Fiat 124 ST) 2m 12.15s; 10 Lance Williams (Toyota Starlet) 2m 12.32s.