Motorsport: 'Crazy' racing at Pukekohe

By Eric Thompson

Murphy holds V8 SuperTourers lead amid chaos on the track

Simon McLennan gets airborne with Kayne Scott behind at Pukekohe V8 SuperTourers. Picture / Neville Bailey
Simon McLennan gets airborne with Kayne Scott behind at Pukekohe V8 SuperTourers. Picture / Neville Bailey

The former king of Pukekohe when the V8 Supercars were a regular visitor to the circuit retained his lead in the V8 SuperTourers after a hectic and chaotic day's racing.

Greg Murphy may not have won the round but he proved experience, driving to the conditions, and a little bit of cunning will always reward a driver with points. The conditions, especially in the first two races, were tricky with the track covered in water, mud and engine fluids.

The red mist descended on a number of drivers as the lights went out in race one and race two, resulting in massive shunts that took out a number of drivers who may have challenged for a podium later in the race.

"It was probably the strangest day of racing I've ever been at," said Murphy. "The amount of damage was unbelievable, not just in the SuperTourers but in the support categories as well.

"At the start of the first race, we were on slicks but the track was still damp and there were people who just weren't driving to the conditions.

There were some crazy moves.

"It was disappointing that a few drivers like Ashley Walsh and Andy Booth were out for the day when they should have been mixing with us up the front."

Fellow V8 Supercars driver Shane van Gisbergen took the day's round honours to move himself back into contention in the championship after picking up the lion's share of the points.

Van Gisbergen's opening rounds at Hampton Downs and Ruapuna weren't to his liking and after a successful Pukekohe event the Aussie-based Kiwi has moved into third place on the point's table.

"The brakes have been the biggest issue the last couple of rounds so it's been a big turnaround and the car's been good," said Van Gisbergen. "It seemed it was a little bit crazy out there in the first two races but I didn't see how it all started as it was all behind me.

"In the third race I was absolutely going for it as was Murph and I couldn't get close enough to think about a pass."

The third of the flying overseas-based New Zealanders and defending champion, Scott McLaughlin, was a happy man, more than doubling his points haul on the revamped circuit to haul himself up to ninth place.

Luckily for the 19-year-old, drivers have to drop a round, and reminiscent of last year's series where he also had a non-points scoring round, McLaughlin will drop Hampton Downs, where he also scored no points.

McLaughlin was at Pukekohe a few weeks ago for the New Zealand round of the V8 Supercars' championship and had a crunching visit to the wall after a steering failure. "It's all good now and I'm not bothered or worried after the crash," said McLaughlin. "The car's been quite racy today and we can punch out quite a good lap time but didn't seem to have the straight line speed.

"I can get on the tail of anyone and the car is awesome but I couldn't get past them, it seems the car is running out of puff.

"As for the championship, I've got more points after this weekend than I had at the same time last year."

Ant Pedersen has been the most consistent of the domestic drivers and his consistency has been rewarded with a solid collection of points, which sees him tucked in behind series leader Murphy and ahead of Van Gisbergen.

"Having a straight car at the end of racing is certainly a positive to take away from the weekend," said Pedersen. "For sure we would have liked to have won but to be honest our race pace was probably only good for third. Shane and Greg had the measure, unfortunately, of Scott and me all weekend really. If you can't win them you still want to bag a load of points, which we did."

Daniel Gaunt made the most of the trying conditions and his chance to race again after Andrew Waite, who was slated to drive the Tasman Motorsport car, was injured. He moved up the points table and now sits in fourth just ahead of Richard Moore.

There are a number of drivers who will be spending some time in the workshop repairing some pretty heavy damage, including Andy Booth, Angus Fogg, Ash Walsh and Simon McLennan.

The BNT NZ V8 SuperTourers have a three-month break over winter, returning for round four at Taupo on September 1.

V8Supertourers Points table

1. Greg Murphy - 1840

2. Ant Pedersen - 1632

3. Shane van Gisbergen - 1394

4. Daniel Gaunt - 1322

5. Richard Moore - 1042

6. Andre Heimgartner - 1014

7. Paul Manuell - 940

8. John McIntyre - 909

- NZ Herald

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