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Triple X Motorsport driver Daniel Gaunt (Auckland) has won the prestigious New Zealand Grand Prix held at Manfeild today after a 35 lap race in changeable weather conditions.
Driving the VnC Cocktails/Mad Butcher Toyota single-seater, 24-year old Gaunt dominated the late afternoon race to etch his name in to New Zealand history for the second time.
Having set pole for today’s race in qualifying on the Saturday morning, Gaunt’s strong form continued with a clean victory in the Grand Prix pre-cursor race held earlier this morning at the Manawatu race circuit.
Starting from the front, Gaunt said the quality of field, that included A1 Team New Zealand driver Earl Bamber, ensured any result would be deserved.
“I had to push the whole time,” said Gaunt after the title accolade ceremony. “With the changing conditions and getting drier all the time I knew Earl would be on me the whole weekend. It was fortunate we set the car up for drying conditions – and luckily that’s what it did in the race.”
“This morning’s win gave us confidence – we knew we had a good car in the dry. Although so many things can go wrong and with it so wet for the Grand Prix, the likes of Earl (Bamber) showed he had a car that was stronger in those conditions. We had a flawless start – pulled away and once it started to dry we managed to edge away and make it home.”
“I have to thank Triple X Motorsport, Mike Morton, Shane McKillen, Todd Bickterton, Ian McNabb, Mark and Mark – for the opportunity to do this. I’m so happy I’ve been able to pull through for them – they believed in me – we’ve done it now.”
Speaking of his second title, Gaunt said this victory was significant with such a big year of competition ahead: “This one is very special – to win it for Mike and the team with what we are about to go in to this year with the V8 Supercar programme. It repays some of that support.”
Having badly blistered his hand continually changing gear, it was Gaunt’s only scar for his one returning weekend to the Toyota Racing Series having won the championship title twice previously.
With a winning margin of just over three seconds, Gaunt completed the 35-lap race in a time of 45minutes 35.667seconds, that included one Safety Car period during the race.
Gaunt also contested the three-race Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge at Manfeild, which concludes at Pukekohe in two weeks time.