Three drivers shared the spoils in round five of the NAPA Central Muscle Car championship at Pukekohe Park this weekend.
Andy Knight came out on top in race one before Clarke Hopkins made the most of both handicap races to claim back-to-back victories.
Angus Fogg powered his Ford Mustang over the line today’s finale to keep his outside title aspirations in check.
Converting his pole position start into an early race lead, Knight dictated the pace of the opening few laps in race one. His Oldsmobile was able to break away from a three-way scrap involving Matt Spratt (Torana), Andrew Porter (Mustang) and Fogg.
Fogg would eventually get past both and begin his pursuit of Knight. Yet he would fall agonisingly shy, with Knight crossing the start/finish line 0.08s ahead of his challenger.
A relived Knight thanked the might of his Oldsmobile’s engine down both of Pukekohe’s straights as his saviour from Fogg, conceding he didn’t think he had enough in the car for the win as the Mustang inched nearer.
“We probably had a bit too much pressure in the tyres with them starting to go away early,” Knight said.
“I thought Angus was going to have me, but [the Starfire] has good enough grunt down the straight so that Angus can’t quite get me.”
Both would have to overcome nearly 40-seconds in deficit for the weekend’s next two races, which were both won by Hopkins in the A9X Torana.
Late moves on Dean Hansen and Andrew Sinclair ensured Hopkins was able to ease over the line with four-tenths in hand.
Points leader in class 1A, the so-called big boys, Craig Boote, was top placed in seventh, with Fogg, Spratt and Porter in tow.
Hopkins’ win in race three was more comprehensive. He crossed the line 4.1s over the Mustang of Shane Johnson.
The first shot at a race start was red-flagged when Tony Boyden suffered a mechanical failure on lap one.
Another significant DNF was Knight, whose right-front upright dislodged on the first lap after the restart.
Before the race, Knight had trialled Boote by three-points, but his rival did salvage eighth and extended his championship lead.
Fogg put in a spellbinding recovery effort to finish on the rostrum. He initially ran off the track at turn five, overtaking Knight in the process.
He then sat at the end of the run-off area, waiting for Knight, who had in fact peeled off the road with his drama, to reclaim the position.
Consequently, Fogg lost more time than what he needed to give up. Still, he managed to put in an entertaining fight back, including posting a lap time in the 1.05s – three seconds quicker than anyone else – to snatch third on the final lap.
Knight was able to repair the car in time for Sunday’s final race, and he came within two laps of clinching another race win.
However, it was Fogg who would finish off a strong weekend with a flourish.
“It was a great race,” Fogg said. “I just battled away and picked away with Andy.
“It was sort of raining towards the end, and you didn’t really know what parts of the track were slippery, not so slippery or not slippery at all.
“But it was great to finish off the weekend with a win. Car is going like a dream. Bring on Taupo.”
The final round of the championship will be at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park on April 16-18.
Images: NAPA Central Muscle Cars