Bargwanna takes round win at Taupo

Premier motorsport in New Zealand is back on the right track following the opening round of the BNT NZ Touring Car Championship held at Taupo over the weekend.

The opening round of the championship saw three hard fought races and three different winners for the weekend.

The new category structure see’s V8 SuperTourer (V8ST) and TLX spec cars competing in class one and TL spec cars in class 2 but all on the same grid. It certainly didn’t disappoint race fans in what was an exciting opening encounter for the Taupo crowd.

Jason Bargwanna driving a Toyota Camry claimed victory in the first race battling his way from third on the grid in an exciting display. Mitch Cunningham in a Ford and series debutant Bryce Fullwood in a Holden would complete the podium.

Starting positions for race two of the weekend were taken from the second fastest times in qualifying – race one winner Bargwanna would start sixth with Simon Evans in his Holden on pole.

Evans got off to a good start, holding off Tim Edgell also in a Holden, into turn one, however drama soon unfolded behind Evans as Bargwanna went into the back of Bryce Fullwood, sending the young Australian into a spin on the exit of turn five.

Unsighted by the incident ahead, the Nissan Altima of Nick Ross and the Holden of Craig Baird then collected the stranded car of Fullwood. The damage to Baird’s car forced the safety car out, a brief red flag brought the race to a halt before the race restarted with ten laps remaining.

Evans cruised to victory with the Holden’s of Tim Edgell and Angus Fogg battling for the last two podium positions with the Ford of Mitchell Cunningham. Fogg eventually finishing second with Cunningham holding on for third.

The final race of the weekend saw a reverse grid combined with a standing start. The race got underway without drama, and saw Craig Baird in the Team Kiwi Racing Holden lead from start to finish. Angus Fogg in a Holden finished in second, followed by Fullwood,

Based on points from the three races, the round win went to Jason Bargwanna, with Simon Evans taking second, and Mitchell Cunningham in third. Evans and Cunningham were tied on points, with second place being awarded to Evans based on him earning a victory earlier in the weekend.

Bargwanna commented that it was an amazing first weekend for the newly formed class and that the cars are close.

“It was an amazing weekend, there was a lot of uncertainty leading into the event and I think we’ve proven that it is a very good championship that has a lot of potential,” says Bargwanna.

“On paper, the cars are pretty close. When you look at how the weekend panned out, three different race winners from three different teams, a TLX and a V8ST car on the podium, it’s pretty awesome. I’m especially proud of my team for getting the first round win.”

In class two the weekend was dominated by Kevin Williams in his Holden Commodore who won the first two races of the weekend with Brock Cooley taking the final win.

Williams took the round win for class two with Cooley in second, and Brad Lathrope taking the final spot.

Benjamin Carrell is a freelance motorsport writer and currently edits He writes for a number of Kiwi drivers and motorsport clubs. That's when he's not working in his horticultural day-job or training for the next road or mtb cycle race!

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