Motorsport: First among equals

By Eric Thompson

Fabian Coulthard (red car) leads the pack at round two of the V8 SuperTourers at Ruapuna. Photo / Alex Mitchell/Terry Marshall
Fabian Coulthard (red car) leads the pack at round two of the V8 SuperTourers at Ruapuna. Photo / Alex Mitchell/Terry Marshall

Aussie-based Kiwi driver Fabian Coulthard took line honours to win the second round of the newly formed V8 SuperTourers' series at Ruapuna at Easter.

Coulthard replaced round-one winner Greg Murph, and took the lion's share of points over the three races.

He showed an immense amount of class to keep the rest of the field at bay in the first two races and was bested by three-time NZV8 champion John McIntyre only in race three.

"It would have been nice to win all three races but that wasn't the case," said Coulthard.

"I'd not been in the car before and we all only had one hour of practice, so to put the car on pole, get two wins, a second, three race fastest laps and the lap record makes it a good weekend all around.

"The beauty about the series is that all the cars are identical and it comes down to driver ability.

"The first thing that came to mind when I dropped into it and drove the car is that it reminded me of a Porsche. You have no mechanical advantage over the next bloke, you just get in it and drive it. There are minimal adjustments to the car, and what better way to go racing?

"I've always taken one race at a time but I did have one thing hanging over my head this weekend and that was Murph saying, 'Do whatever you like but don't scratch it'.

"I was just here to fill in and do the best the job I could and keep the car straight ... and we came away with the round win."

The first round of the series was held at Hampton Downs where longstanding V8 Supercars stalwart and four-time Bathurst winner Greg Murphy showed the way by taking two race wins and an eighth to lead the championship. Because of back surgery Murphy was unable to make the grid for round two, but he was at Ruapuna for his legion of fans and is confident he'll be fighting fit for the third round of the V8 Supercars championship at the Hamilton ITM 400.

McIntyre halted a Coulthard clean sweep of at the long weekend with a sterling feature-race drive.

Jonny Reid and Craig Baird out-braked themselves into the first turn after passing Coulthard, allowing McIntyre to steal a lead he never looked likely to lose.

Coulthard made the most of the opening shambles and set off after McIntyre but was unable to haul back the former New Zealand champion.

"At the start we got down the inside of everyone and passed Fabian before the first corner," McIntyre said.

"Reid and Baird went off allowing Fabian and I to get through ahead.

"We were always good under brakes, especially at the hairpin and that bought us a lot of time.

"Running a race like that is all about working out where he was strong and where he wasn't. The pressure was really intense and that's the best win I have ever had at Ruapuna."

McIntyre now leads the series from Reid and another former NZV8 champion Kayne Scott. The series moves on to Manfeild Motorsport Park for round three on April 27 to 29.

- NZ Herald

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