Sunday, Dec 1 06:35pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Prujean pips Orr-West as Watson stars in SsangYong mini-enduro

Todd Prujean, Christina Orr-West and James Watson were the class of the field in an action-packed SsangYong Rhino Racing Series finale at Pukekohe Park.


The third and final race of the weekend was a 30-minute mini-enduro for the 18-car field. On pole, it was Bea Vear with Farhad Moinfar alongside him.


The field managed to make their way through the first lap without drama. The biggest mover on Lap 1 was 2KCUP regular James Watson who went from 14th on the grid to third with a sweeping pass around the outside at Turn 1.


New Zealand’s fastest mum Christina Orr-West was another strong starter to move up to fifth behind Tom van der Loos by the end of the first lap.


Having dispatched Moinfar on the second lap, Watson nearly threw his podium position away out of Turn 6. The Auckland ace got loose on corner exit and wagged the tail of his ute, fortunately, he managed to recover.


The first lead change came on Lap 3 when Watson went through on Vear at the entry of Turn 5. It wasn’t long before Orr-West and Prujean got in among the front runners and was mixing in for the lead. By Lap 4, Orr-West was challenging for a podium.


Her battle for third brought Prujean into action. Van der Loos, Orr-West and Prujean went three-wide into Turn 1, but only one could come out the other side ahead. Ultimately, it was Prujean who go up to third, Orr-West fourth and Vanderloos fifth in the early stages of the race.


Farhad Moinfar found himself in trouble on Lap 6 after he spun at Turn 1 and collided with Alex Sherie. The local driver tried to avoid the spinning car, but Moinfar ended up slamming into Sherie’s side. The race stayed green as both cars made it back to the pit lane.


The lead changed hands again on Lap 7 when Prujean passed Watson through Turn 1. He too nearly gave away his position with a big tank-slapper through Turn 5 and Turn 6. Like Watson earlier, he held onto the position.


Soon enough, Orr-West was past Watson into Turn 5 on Lap 10 and set about catching Prujean. The top three were in a class of their own. Fourth-placed Mark Mallard was some 8.6 seconds adrift with Adam Carpenter not far behind him.


Drama struck on Lap 14 when former race leader Bea Vear and Dean Foster collided at the Turn 2/Turn 3 chicane. Vear got loose into Turn 2 and at Turn 3 came across the nose of Foster. The duo duly ended up spearing off into the tyre barrier, which brought out the Safety Car.


The race restarted with a handful of laps to go. Prujean still led Orr-West and Watson. Mallard was still in fourth with Carpenter in fifth.


In what was a one-lap sprint to the checkered flag, Prujean held on. Orr-West and Watson completed the podium while Mallard, Carpenter, Murray Brook, Kirk Stoneman, Matt Henney, Tim Dossett and Nic Lowndes completed the top 10.


Round 3 of the series takes place at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park over 2-3 February. 


CLICK HERE for Race 3 results