Hugh Gardiner was in top form in round three of the NAPA Central Muscle Cars over the weekend at Hampton Downs, winning two of the four races on offer.
The Chevrolet Camaro cruised to an emphatic seven-second victory in the meeting’s opening account.
Capitalising on a horrid start by polesitter Angus Fogg, Gardiner remained unchallenged for all eight laps, leaving John Midgley and Dean Perkins to scrap over the minor placings.
In the end, Midgley snatched away second from Perkins on the final lap having pushed his rival Falcon all the way to the line. Perkins was bouncing back from a engine gremlin that ruled him out of the previous round at Pukekohe and was eager to make up lost championship ground.
Andy Knight was three-seconds adrift in his Oldsmobile, but comfortably ahead of Dean Hansen. The HQ Monaro getting the better of Craig Boote and Fogg in an all-Mustang 6-7.
The second and third races of the weekend were both handicap starts.
With the fastest drivers sent to the rear of the grid, Clark Hopkins was able to the profit on the opportunity and clinch victory in race two.
Hopkins quickly caught onto the train of the slower Group 2 machinery and worked himself towards the front with one lap in hand. He was largely helped when Steve Noyer spun at the Double B, relinquishing the lead.
Second over the line was Steve Ross, while Bruce Kett clung on to round out the podium.
Race three was arguably the most intriguing race of the weekend, as both first place Ken Lupton and runner-up Tristian Teki were left to run on a wet track with slick tyres because neither had remembered to pack grooved rubber.
The duo finished some 27s clear of the field as the circuit rapidly began to dry out.
Several of the big-guns were unable to make ends meet in the challenging conditions as the battled through the pack. Perkins was best off and able to charge to seventh. But Boote, Knight and Fogg failed to break into the top-15.
Andrew Sinclair steered clear of trouble to come home third, ahead of the Ford Mustang of Shane Johnson and Kett in the No.41 Camaro.
Gardiner would seal his second win of the weekend in Sunday’s final race after Fogg was penalised five-seconds for a jump start.
The JA Russell Mustang would go on to cross the line first by was aware that his 2.4s advantage over Gardiner was not suffice and he would end being demoted to second.
Perkins rounded out a solid weekend with the final spot on the rostrum, edging out Knight in the Oldsmobile.
The 2020/21 Central Muscle Car season now reaches its halfway point, with round four scheduled to be at Manfeild over February 12-14.