Smith sweeps NZ V8s in challenging conditions at Highlands
Jack Smith has extended his lead in the BNT V8s Championship by completing a sweep of Round 3 in changeable conditions at Highlands Motorsport Park.
Smith had already dominated Race 1 a day earlier and the second race was much the same story, even if Brenton Grove did jump him at the rolling start.
Race 3 was suspended to allow the field to change to wets after a sudden downpour but the Hamilton Motorsports driver showed the way either side of the red flag.
Grove cleared Smith’s #85 Commodore as soon as the field was let loose for Race 2, but not even for a lap before a Nick Ross error brought out the Safety Car.
Ross had clamped on the rear brakes at the esses and went around in the drizzly conditions, stranding the #007 Concept Motorsport Altima in the gravel.
When the restart came on Lap 4, Smith squeezed past Grove at the first opportunity as they came off the bridge and scampered away.
Grove saw off mid-race pressure from Richards Team Motorsport team-mate Chelsea Herbert to guide the #10 Camry home in second position.
Lap times blew out in the latter half of the race as the rain came down again, but Smith was good enough to win by over 20 seconds after just nine laps of racing following the Safety Car.
Lance Hughes had initially crossed the line in third but was issued two 30-second post-race penalties, including one for unloading Herbert to take that spot late in the race, and reclassified sixth.
Brad Lathrope (#73 Brad Lathrope Racing Falcon) inherited Hughes’ position with Herbert elevated to fourth while Ross, already a lap down, finished ninth after another spin when he and Matt Tubbs (#42 Jumpflex Commodore) made contact.
Smith started Race 3 from fourth but showed big commitment first time into the Bus Stop and took the lead off Lathrope.
He was again comfortably up on the field when a Safety Car and then red flag was called to allow the field to change to wet tyres, but still no one could lay a glove on the Super2 driver once racing resumed.
Hughes made it a Hamilton Motorsports one-two in the #84 Commodore after a mechanical problem for Herbert’s #62 Camry and Scott Taylor’s off in the #222 Richards Camry at Turn 7.
Ross dropped a lap having pitted for wets at the start of the Safety Car period and finished eighth, despite scything past all but Smith on the road.
The result means that Smith has an even stronger grip on the series at the halfway point.
“It was the perfect weekend, it doesn’t get much better than that, getting pole and three race wins,” said Smith.
“A shame for Nick Ross that he didn’t finish all that well, but we’ll take it and we’ll take the extended lead in the championship.”
Matt Podjursky and Justin Ashwell shared the spoils in Class Two on the day.
Round 4 is at Teretonga Park in Invercargill next weekend (January 19-20).