Christina Orr claimed her best result of the season so far in the BNTV8s Championship at Teretonga Park when she led the final race over four laps before being passed by an aggressive 'freight train' of champions.
A rookie to Motorsport New Zealand's premiere series, this season the Whakatane driver has stepped up to compete against the very best drivers from around New Zealand when the championship started in November 2009.
At the weekend the third round of the series was held at the historical Invercargill circuit officially the world's southern most international race track.
Orr started the final race of the weekend from the front row due to a reverse grid format after her missing the qualification sessions on Saturday put her at the back of the grid and on the back foot for races one and two.
Firing off at the green light she roared ahead of pole sitter Auckland's David Hopper beating him to the first corner.
She then went on to lead for nearly a quarter of the race distance before being passed by 2001 champion Paul Manuell who later went on to win.
"I led for four laps and then was in fifth place for ages until I tried to outbrake Andrew Booth and nearly spun ending up on the grass." she said.
Orr had held off the 2004 and 2005 champion Booth until he pressured her into pushing her Holden Commodore past it's limits at the all important final turn (the elbow) before entering the front straight, an important stretch at the Invercargill circuit which leads into the famous and very popular turn one where many exciting passes are attempted but not always completed successfully.
Popular front runner and two times championship runner-up Angus Foss followed by recent recipient of the New Zealand Order of Merit, Craig Baird and also two time BNTV8s champion John McIntyre all seized the opportunity created by Booth and filed past Orr in freight train style while she regained composure and momentum of her car.
"If I hadn't gone off I may have held fifth but I had Booth, Fogg, Baird and Johnny Mac right up my bum so even if Andy had just pushed me wide there, they would have gone right past me like a freight train anyway - I was a bit disappointed that I went off but I had to try or I would have been in big trouble for letting them go past easy." she said.
Overcoming last minute mechanical troubles the day before setting off to the South Island the crew were again tested on Saturday when a problem with the car's gearbox resulted in a speedy change between practice and qualification sessions.
The crack team managed to get Orr into the opening qualifier but with time for only a handful of laps before the close of the session she was left outside of the top 20 cut off for session two.
Starting off from near the back of the grid with just two drivers behind her she was able to finish race one in 19th place and follow that up with 20th for race two.
"The first race was pretty uneventful but in the second one my gear knob came off in my hand so that was a bit of fun but I managed to carry on - I had to sit on it so I knew it wouldn't roll around in the car and get under the pedals." she laughs.
"We were pretty happy with the weekend and I wasn't far off the top guys in lap times - considering we have had no test time whatsoever leading up to this round and the car is still more pretty much a stranger to me I think it was a very good effort on the part of the whole team." she said.
With her fair share of hard luck hopefully out of the way for the season Orr heads to Timaru International Motor Raceway this weekend feeling confident of having a good run at it although she has had a mixed bag of results in other formulas there in the past.
"The last time I did really well there was in Formula Fords but hopefully the track will suit our Holden and we can have a trouble free weekend - I'm really proud of the team who got me going and I am very impressed with their effort with trying to find that spark to keep them going - they were starting to worry about why everything they touch is turning to rust instead of turning to gold."
"But now they're touching things and they are turning to silver and slightly golden so we are hoping that at Timaru all our big problems will be over and all the little ones will disappear as well - I'm happy all that happened over the weekend at Teretonga was that the gearknob came off in my hand - I'm pretty happy with that."
"I really enjoyed the weekend and we were only one second off the fastest guys - just one second covering over 20 cars so you could imagine how intense the racing is, it's so hard because everyone was so equal and we were all bumper to bumper." she says.
Christina Orr's finishes at Teretonga Park Raceway were 19th, 20th then 12th and currently sits second in the rookie standings in the BNTV8s Championships, 22nd overall at the halfway point with three rounds remaining.
Round four action begins this weekend with practice and qualification sessions including the top 10 shootout this Saturday the 23rd and all three races held Sunday the 24th January 2010.
Shaun Summerfield along with 2002-3 NZV8 champion Mark Pederson and the legendary Greg Murphy present coverage of the top 10 shootout and all three races Sunday the 24th January on TV3.