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Triple X Motorsport driver Craig Baird (Barrons RV Taupo – ZM – Porsche 997) has won today’s opening race at the fifth round of the 2008/09 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge at Manfeild today with team-mate David Reynolds (Placemakers – Hampsta – Porsche 997) second.
Starting from the second row following the mixed-weather, mixed timing morning qualifying session, Baird took advantage of a superior start to pressure Reynolds and team-mate Daniel Gaunt.
Gaunt led for the early stages of the race before losing ground to the field. He was then shunted in to the grass at the hair-pin turn, puncturing and relegated to 13th position.
Baird’s victory, his 12th for the season, has extended his championship lead after the 12-lap race held in steady rain at the 3.03km Manawatu circuit.
“I got a good start – even though I struggled with rear-grip for most of the race. Reynolds had good pace toward the end – it was a good result but hard work,” said Baird, who stepped from the Porsche to his Ford Falcon where he was to start the afternoon NZV8s race from pole position.
Reynolds was philosophical following his pole position start evaporated at the starting lights.
“I clawed my way back up after a bad start and once it started to rain a lot heavier I struggled to see where I was going,” said Melbourne based Reynolds.
“Qualifying was pretty good for me considering I didn’t do any practise yesterday – I haven’t driven a car in six odd weeks so to grab pole was a pretty good effort.
“Triple X are still one-two-three in the championship – so things are pretty good. If Craig (Baird) has a DNF (Did Not Finish) then we are about on par – so the luck is in his court at the moment.”
Behind Reynolds in sixth position, Sydney’s Rodney Forbes (Hampsta - MPD Dairy Products – Porsche 997) led home the remainder of the six-car Triple X Motorsport team with team principal Shane McKillen seventh (VnC Cocktails – Porsche 997).
Tenth after a mid-race spin through the in-field, rookie Courtney Letica (Altherm - Porsche 997) finished ahead of Gaunt, who crossed the line with a damaged rear tyre in 13th position.
With weather conditions expected to improve for the Sunday, today’s rain is expected to abate for the 12-lap morning race, which is followed by a top-six reverse grid 16-lapper in the afternoon.
Results Fujitsu 200 Manfeild 28th February 2009
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge race one (12-laps)
1 Craig Baird – Triple X Motorsport 14min53.450sec
2 David Reynolds – Triple X Motorsport +0.354s
3 Jody Vincent +2.463s
4 Jono Lester +4.724s
5 Mark Russ +6.004s
6 Rodney Forbes – Triple X Motorsport +16.945s
7 Shane McKillen – Triple X Motorsport +25.229s
8 Anthony Pedersen +28.006s
9 Rob Steele +28.019s
10 Courtney Letica – Triple X Motorsport +28.238s
11 Hugh Gardiner +37.577s
12 Darryn Henderson +49.843s
13 Daniel Gaunt – Triple X Motorsport +1 Lap