Defending champion Jason Bargwanna speared to dual wins in the penultimate round of the NZ V8 Touring Car Championship at Taupo.
After finishing second to Nick Ross (Commodore) in Saturday’s opening heat, Bargwanna stormed to victories in the final two races.
It was all the more remarkable after Bargwanna copped a whack from Shaun Varney’s Falcon with the Aussie rejoining in last place while Varney was eliminated in the feature race.
The diminutive former Bathurst 1000 winner then sliced his way through the field and after the compulsory pit stops he rejoined ahead of Ross.
“We’ve had to do it the hard way,” Bargwanna said.
Bargwanna now holds a cosy lead in the championship in going into the final round at Pukekohe on ANZAC Day weekend in April.
“I really had to push hard. “I was a bit disappointed about getting hit like that.”
Bargwanna’s strategy of taking his pit stop late in the race worked better than Ross’s earlier stop, as Ross came out behind a gaggle of the slower TL (original-specification) cars and lost time fighting his way through them.
Ross acknowledged that the Camry of Bargwanna was now quicker, although the two cars had been evenly matched earlier in the championship.
“We need to find another second a lap,” Ross admitted.
“We’ve got a test session booked at Pukekohe.”
Lance Hughes was third for the round in the TLX (new-generation) category, driving the Commodore in which Bargwanna won the previous championship.
The TL category saw three different winners after Bronson Porter won Saturday’s opening race.
Brad Lauder (Ford) and James McLaughlin (Holden) won the second and final heats.
Lauder had been challenging for the championship but lost vital points when he was unable to start the final race.
McLaughlin’s convincing victory in the feature race was especially praiseworthy as he runs with virtually no sponsorship, unable to afford the new tyres that most of his rivals were using.
“We saved our best tyres till the final race but they were still second-hand,” he said.