A hard fought battle is emerging in class two of the BNT NZ Touring Cars, as the championship heads to Ruapuna for round three this weekend.
Invercargill driver Liam MacDonald leads the championship having won the opening two rounds at Pukekohe and Taupo. 73 points behind the leader, fellow Southlander and series newcomer Jamie Conroy sits in third place, nestled between them however is last seasons runner up, Brad Lathrope of Silverdale.
With high hopes at the start of the season, it hasn't all gone the way of the MWN Civil backed racer, but as the season heads into the all important back to back South Island rounds, Lathrope says consistency will be key.
"I would say our season so far hasn't quite gone to plan, but that's all part of the fun of racing and being at the competitive end of the field. My team has handled the issues we've come across, just putting their heads down and getting the job done to ensure we can get back out and finish every race which was one of our goals for this season," says Lathrope.
Lathrope says his mindset remains the same ahead of the championship's South Island excursion, and while race wins and podiums are the aim, an air of caution needs to be adhered to.
"The South Island rounds are no different to any other round we go to, we have the same goal - to get out there and win races and ultimately get our first round win!"
"From my experience over the last two seasons if you perform well at the South Island rounds it puts you in a very good position to take the championship. However, the two south island rounds are back to back weekends, so you have to make sure to stay out of trouble at Ruapuna, because the turnaround to Teretonga is very short."
Invercargill driver Liam MacDonald has been the one to beat this season, and newcomer Jamie Conroy has also proven he is fast with Lathrope saying he welcomes the competition into the V8 feeder category.
"Both Liam and Jamie are very talented and competitive drivers and now I'm heading down into 'their territory'. They won't be making it easy for myself or any other class two competitor. I expect to be having some really close racing with them both down south."
"I'm not surprised to see how quick they are, I was expecting to have some great competition this season and that's exactly what they have delivered. I've had some of the best races I've ever had battling with Liam and I hope that continues throughout the season."
The BNT NZ Touring Cars will have three races over the weekend at Ruapuna, before the championship moves onto their next round at Teretonga outside of Invercargill Jan 21-22.