Press Release – Motorsport New Zealand
Nick Ross scored an emotional NZV8s victory at Taupo today as he won the race commemorating his friend Jason Richards.
The Cambridge driver led the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy, the feature race at the penultimate round of the NZV8s championship, virtually from start to finish in his new-generation Holden Commodore.
“I was a friend of Jason from the days we raced karts together,” Ross said. “We’d catch up at V8 Supercar meetings and he’d invite us into the tent with that big smile of his. He was an awesome guy.”
Originally from Nelson, Richards died from cancer in 2011, aged just 35. He had raced V8 Supercars with success for several seasons.
Ross had said before the race that he was especially focused on winning it, and had saved his best tyres for the 20-lap event.
Hamilton driver Martin Short was close behind for much of the race in his Toyota Camry, but Ross managed to keep a safe gap.
“Martin was right there,” Ross said. “He was quicker than me through the first half of the circuit, but I could gap him over the second half.”
Ross also won today’s first race and the trophy victory gave him the overall round win – his first in 10 years of NZV8 racing.
Australian V8 Supercar driver Jason Bargwanna, also a good friend of Richards’, won the trophy last year but today his Commodore suffered a mysterious electrical problem in both races and each time he limped home fourth in his class.
“In the trophy race the engine died and I coasted across the line,” he said.
Bargwanna won yesterday’s race and retained the series lead as Short had to retire from yesterday’s race with power-steering failure.
Short’s new Toyota team-mate, Brent Collins from Timaru, finished third for the round behind Ross and Bargwanna.
Turua teenager AJ Lauder increased his lead in the category for the original-specification NZV8s by winning the round. His younger brother Brad, also in a Ford Falcon, won today’s first heat to make it a great weekend for the family.
Newcomer Todd Pelham was second for the round in his Falcon, with Paraparaumu’s Struan Robertson third, also in a Falcon, a fantastic result for both drivers.
In the TLX class Bargwanna now has 807 points, Short 746 and Ross 733. AJ Lauder has a big lead in his category with 816 points, with Brad Lauder on 643 and Shaun Varney (Auckland, Falcon) on 574. Both titles will be decided at the V8 Supercars meeting at Pukekohe in mid-April
Christchurch rookie James Munro claimed the Formula Ford championship after a nerve-wracking final race in which he needed to finish at least second.
Title rival Brendon Leitch from Invercargill led all the way with Munro just behind him and Michael Collins and Tom Alexander (both Christchurch) immediately behind Munro. Leitch won the race but Munro’s second gave him the title by just five points. Collins came third in the championship.
“I had a couple of chances to try to pass Brendon but it was getting a bit dangerous,” Munro said.
“A year ago I had never driven a racing car and now we’ve won the championship. I can’t believe it really.”
Victory in Saturday evening’s three-hour race earned Jono Lester (Auckland) and Simon Ellingham (Napier) the New Zealand Endurance championship in their Porsche 997 GT3. Lester, who races GTs in Japan, opened a sizable gap in the first stint and Ellingham controlled the race from that point.
The pair, who had also won the first round at Manfeild, finished a lap ahead of Harry Dodson (Auckland) and Rick and Deon Cooper (both Taupo) driving a Ford GT, the modern version of the Le Mans-winning GT40.
Attached photographs show Nick Ross with the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy and Ross leading Martin Short in the trophy race. They are free to use but should be credited to Euan Cameron.
MSNZ Race Championship calendar:
Round 1: January 12-13, Teretonga (Invercargill)
Round 2: January 19-20, Timaru
TRS: January 26-27, Taupo
TRS: February 2-3, Hampton Downs
Round 3: February 9-10, Manfeild
Round 4: March 9-10, Taupo
Round 5: April 12-14, Pukekohe (V8 Supercars meeting)