There is still plenty to play for in the BNT V8s Championship when round five at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon gets underway this weekend. After four rounds, Jack Smith sits at the top of the point’s table on 801 points. Nick Ross is 39 points behind on 762, with Lance Hughes in third on 611.
Smith has been the dominant force in the championship this season, winning every round up until Teretonga last month, which was won by fellow Australian Brenton Grove.
Half way through the final 20-lap encounter in the Deep South, Smith suffered problems when a suspension component on the front right corner of his Holden Commodore failed while battling with the Nissan of Nick Ross. Smith limped to the pits, where he stayed for the rest of the race; while Ross continued on to eventually take the win – closing the point’s gap to the Australian speedster.
“Not the ending we would have liked at Teretonga, we snapped something in the front end and unfortunately DNF’d. We know we have the pace, and the car is going well, looking forward to getting back into it at Manfeild,” said Smith. “We had good pace at Manfeild last year. We weren’t slow. We’ll see how the conditions are and hope for the best.”
Richards Team Motorsport driver Brenton Grove won the weekend at Teretonga, with three-second place finishes.
The young Australian rookie could be one to watch this weekend, having climbed his way up the points standings over the past two events, and now sits fourth place in the championship, just 23 points behind Hughes.
“We’ve had some bad luck this season. I think that based on raw speed, the Holden is still a fair bit quicker than the Toyota, but as we saw at Teretonga last month, if Jack has a bad race, we can definitely fight with everyone else,” said Grove. Still in the title hunt, Ross from Cambridge, feels the performance of his Nissan isn’t quite there yet and has some work to do to catch Jack Smith.
“We‘re still chasing the set-up in the car. We know we have the horsepower, we just can’t get the car to stop and turn like we need to,” said Ross. “There are still six races to go in this championship, a lot can happen.” The Class One field will be rounded out by the Toyota Camry’s of Chelsea Herbert and Scott Taylor. The of Holden’s belonging to Matt Tubbs and Rob Wallace and the Ford Falcon of Brad Lathrope.
Echoing the sentiments of Ross is Matt Podjursky of Inglewood who is chasing down his rival Justin Ashwell in Class Two.
Justin Ashwell currently leads Class Two on 754 points, with Podjursky second on 718.Coming off strong results in the South Island including five race wins, Podjursky of focussed on winning the class two crown.
“There is still a lot of racing to go. Before Highlands (round three) there was a protest put against me, which resulted in me receiving a fine, licence endorsement and my race three results from Pukekohe taken off me. This meant I had a big points gap, now after the South Island we have near halved that!” said Podjursky.
“The good results in the South Island gives me a lot of confidence as we head back up North. We still have a relatively big points margin, but I’m more comfortable now heading to two tracks that I know. Technically Manfeild is my home track as it’s the closest one to Inglewood. I’ve done a lot of miles there and looking forward to getting the weekend underway.”
At Manfeild this weekend the BNT V8s have a qualifying session and a race on Saturday, with two races on Sunday to round out the weekend.