The sun shined, and fans were treated to a 22-car grid at round two of the BNT NZ Touring Cars championship held at Pukekohe over the weekend, running as the main support class to the V8 Supercars ITM500.
Simon Evans in his Smeg Racing Holden claimed two race wins from three starts to claim the round win, followed by Mitchell Cunningham in his Robert Cunningham Construction Ford, and Tim Edgell in his Chesters Holden rounding out the weekend podium.
Craig Baird in his Team Kiwi Racing Holden claiming the win in the final reverse grid race of the weekend.
For Evans, it was a matter of staying out in front in the first two races and adapting to the changing track conditions.
“The track changed quite a bit throughout the weekend as the V8 Supercars layed down more rubber, the track gripped up which you had to adjust to,” says Evans.
“The changing grip wasn’t something we could tune into the car and change the set-up to accommodate. Because there were long gaps between being on track and it was different every race, you really just had to change your driving style.”
Battling for the race lead with Mitchell Cunningham on multiple occasions throughout the weekend, Evans eventually prevailed.
“Mitch is a hard but fair racer, and he hustled me a couple of times and I managed to hold on, it’s good to race with him, I expect it to be the same again at the next round.”
Whilst happy with two race victories and the round win at Pukekohe this weekend, Evans is mindful that it is likely to be a different story at round three, when the series visits the north Waikato Hampton Downs circuit.
“We were strong here at Pukekohe, however tracks like Hampton Downs will suit the TLX spec cars, particularly the Toyota Camry. The TLX cars have more adjustments in the springs that they run so can tune the car more for the tighter more technical circuits.”
In class two of the championship; local driver Kevin Williams dominated the weekend in his Strapping Systems Holden, with pole position, three race wins and the fastest lap.
Showing his experience, Williams was pleased with his weekend and has his eye on the championship after just two rounds.
“I think we’re doing a good job at the moment, we won at Taupo, and we won here. It’s taken me a long time to learn these cars and learn how to go fast.”
“I’m looking forward to seeing the younger guys in the class step up and challenge as the season progresses. Bring it on.”
The class two podium was rounded out for the weekend by the Fords of Auckland’s Brad Lathrope and Liam MacDonald of Invercargill.