The Napa Central Muscle Cars have produced a weekend of extraordinary racing at Manfeild, with four different race winners over a tightly fought four race meet.
The two standing starts, in Race 1 and 4, saw wins for Angus Fogg, in his #11 Mustang, and Andy Knight, in his new #50 Camaro. It was the handicap races, however, that threw a spanner into the works for the series leaders.
Whilst not overly common in the New Zealand motorsport scene, handicap races encouraged plenty of overtaking and some tight, fierce racing. Faster cars are made to attack for places, whilst the leaders defend to hold off the challenge from behind.
These are the races that showcase driver talent, the starting intervals timed with the aim of having the cars bunched together come race end.
Paul Boden, driving the #68 Camaro, took advantage of this with a commanding drive to take Race 2, whilst Andrew Porter took the spoils in Race 3, in his #3 Mustang.
Knight was quick to lay down the gauntlet in a wet qualifying on Friday, a massive lap seeing him pip Fogg by over a second. The pure power of the Camaro was on display, however aided by a wet circuit as other competitors heeded caution in the conditions.
It was Fogg, however, who took the flag in Race 1, starting on the front row and getting the jump on a slower-starting Knight. Tristan Teki was also great off the line, overtaking Knight and holding second briefly before the Camaro reclaimed its spot.
Fogg held his lead for the race entirety, his experience and awareness seeing him hold off a spirited Knight through some excellent defence. Teki held on to round out the podium.
Race 2, the first handicap race, saw an incredible run from Boden who claimed a lights-to-flag victory. The #68 Camaro showed what it was capable of, cruising to victory as the battles were all waged behind.
As expected, Knight and Fogg worked their way forward through the pack, the pace of the Camaro and Mustang evident. Knight’s charge finished at fifth place, Shane Holland and Rodney Heads drove clean races to finish on the podium whilst Porter finished fourth.
Fogg’s charge stopped at 12th, caught up behind 2021 champion Craig Boote as battles were fought around them.
Come Sunday, it was Porter who took the first race, his maiden win in the category. Also a handicap race, the gaps were reduced and cars released in larger groups.
This saw some fierce battles through the pack, Knight and Fogg again working their way forward to go deep inside the top 10.
Porter hunted down Steve Doughty on the final lap for the victory, whilst Steve Ross rounded out the podium.
With a grid start for Race 4, it was Fogg and Knight on the front row once again. In a role reversal of Race 1, the Camaro got away faster whilst the Mustang was challenged by the fast starting Shane Holland behind.
As Holland went for the pass, however, the two cars made contact which resulted in him spinning across the track. Miraculously, the field avoided hitting him. There was, however, contact in the pack as they tried to avoid collision, Shane Johnson running into the back of Heads as he came to a sudden stop.
Johnson, Heads and Holland were all forced to withdraw whilst Fogg was left to limp to the lane for a new front left, going a lap down.
Once the Safety Car came in and the lights went green, Knight quickly pulled away from the pack, aided by a battle between Porter and Boote behind.
The chequered flag came first for the Camaro, a massive 12 seconds back to Porter who able to hold off Boote for second.
The series will now take two months off over the summer holiday period, returning to action on January 13-15 at Pukekohe.