Round six of the BNT NZ Touring Car Championship heads to Manfeild in Feilding this weekend and it’s not the championship leader that the crowd will have their eyes on.
Simon Evans still holds the lead in the championship from Jason Bargwanna, but it has been Andre Heimgartner setting the pace in the recent two rounds.
Heimgartner missed the first three rounds of the championship, before competing at round four held at Ruapuna and round five at Teretonga in January. Since arriving in the championship, Heimgartner has gone on to win four out of six races.
“The BNT NZ Touring Car Championship is very competitive, it’s enjoyable to race up the front with Evans and Bargwanna. Also great to see Angus Fogg snag a win at Teretonga too,” says Heimgartner.
“I’m looking forward to a good weekend of racing, hopefully we get dry running this weekend, as the previous two rounds have been very wet.”
For Evans however, it’s a matter on focusing on his own results, maintaining his championship lead and keeping ahead of Bargwanna who is only 130 points behind in second place.
“As long as I’m right behind him or in front of him then it’s happy days. I just need to keep collecting points,” says Evans.
Evans is still mindful of the fast Heimgartner and say’s it is a matter of taking safe opportunities to get ahead on the track.
“Andre is driving well, but you would expect him to fast coming out of almost a full season of V8 Supercars. Our speed is quite close but I don’t need to do anything silly to risk a DNF. If I can pass him safely then I guess it’s extra points. But I don’t have to worry about him too much.”
Class two of the championship is lead by Brock Cooley of Wellington with Auckland’s Brad Lathrope chasing hard just 145 points adrift in second place.
Coming back to the championship after missing a round, is Waipukurau’s Sam Barry, who made a very strong debut in the championship at Round 4, almost taking the round with a race victory and a second placing before a DNF in the final race of the weekend.
“It was almost the best debut you could dream of, so of course I was happy. The Ford Falcon prepared by Design AutoTek really suited the track at Ruapuna and my driving style. We will look to carry the speed and team work from Ruapuna into this coming round in Manfeild,” says Barry.
Mindful of the championship battle between Cooley and Lathrope, Barry says it should work in his favour and at a circuit he calls his home track.
“I am happy to let them battle away for the championship as it will only help me try put a gap between both of them and myself.”
“Manfeild is the closest track to home for me so I have done a few laps around there. I have won club level racing there and had some good results there in the Suzuki Swift Cup days. Really looking forward to putting on a show for all of my local sponsors who will be out in force cheering the team along.”
The BNT NZ Touring Cars race this weekend at Manfeild, February 12-14.