Motorsport: Tasman's supercar suits Gaunt's style

By Eric Thompson

V8 driver on the podium for all three races

Daniel Gaunt leads the field at Ruapuna Raceway during a round two race. Photo / Supplied
Daniel Gaunt leads the field at Ruapuna Raceway during a round two race. Photo / Supplied

Steve Horne and his Tasman Motorsport team have their V8 SuperTourer working in the perfect window. By giving their driver Daniel Gaunt a car fettled almost perfectly for the Ruapuna circuit, he was able to finish ahead of the chasing pack twice, and pick up a second in the third race at the weekend.

"I couldn't have really asked for a better weekend. Three wins would have been nice but we were on the podium for all three races," said Gaunt.

"We qualified in the top three at Hampton Downs, and without me making a mistake we could have had a better time there.

"We've got the car speed and round two showed the potential we have. The car suits my driving style and gives you a lot of confidence.

"They're good under braking and you can charge the apex, but you've got to be really, really smooth with the throttle."

Series leader Greg Murphy, who was dominant in the opening round at Hampton Downs last month, had to settle for second in both Gaunt's winning races and picked up a DNF in the third.

"I thought I was lucky to finish second in the first race," said Murphy. "I overtook Scott McLaughlin to move up to fourth, but I didn't quite have the pace of the top three.

"I was fortunate to pick up two more spots when Shane Van Gisbergen collided with Ant Pedersen and they both spun off the track.

"We stayed on the same set of tyres in race two and the car was a bit of a handful. Gaunt pulled away at the front, and I battled hard, but I was able to keep [Craig] Baird at bay.

"The car felt good on new tyres in the third race, but when we slowed for a safety car the engine cut out and that was that."

Murphy retains his championship lead from Ant Pedersen and Gaunt.

Apart from Murphy, the Aussie V8 Supercars invasion of McLaughlin and Van Gisbergen didn't fire consistently and local drivers came to the fore.

McLaughlin's bad luck continued at Ruapuna with a fuse blowing in the throttle system, forcing him to pit. Once back on the track he was by far the fastest driver.

Van Gisbergen was dicing for the lead with pole-sitter Pedersen when the two came together, spinning each other around to finish eighth and 15th. In race two the pair sandwiched John McIntyre, and Van Gisbergen was hit with a drive-through penalty ending any chance of a good finish.

Finally, McLaughlin rolled to a halt with electrical problems on lap three of the third race. Van Gisbergen's charge through the field was halted when he ran out of brakes and coasted in 12th, one of the last cars running.

Pedersen, the local driver with the International Motorsport team, won the feature race and looked comfortable mixing it with the front-runners. "The car feels great and we've always had the pace," he said.

Aussie-based Kiwi Craig Baird continues to improve and come to grips with the new car. He finished in the top five in all three races and could be a major threat at the next round at the revamped Pukekohe track on May 25-26.

V8 SuperTourer points after two rounds

1 Greg Murphy _ 1169

2 Ant Pedersen _ 1110

3 Daniel Gaunt _ 996

4 Richard Moore _ 841

5 Craig Baird _ 750

6 Ashley Walsh _ 733

- NZ Herald

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