Baker seals Nexen Tyre Mazda Racing Series title
Simon Baker of Wellington has sealed the Nexen Tyre NZ Mazda Racing Series National Championship at Hampton Downs International Motorsport Park in North Waikato.
Baker, who had previously won the title in the 2020/2021 season, had led the series throughout and came to the final round at Hampton Downs with a 7-point lead over major rival Chris White Junior of Prebbleton. Baker placed third, third and fourth across the final three races of the championship while White Junior struggled all weekend with distributor and engine problems, only qualifying eighteenth and compiling results of thirteenth, twelfth and sixth across the round.
“Rapt, absolutely stoked,” said Baker as he stepped from his car after the final race in an interview on live television. “It is really hard to win championships so you enjoy them when you do.”
The racing was absolutely superb all weekend long with a massive field of cars and close, hard-fought racing, relatively free of incident.
Rex Edwards of Tauranga had taken the Premier Insulation Pole Position Award in qualifying on Saturday before going on to win the opening race that afternoon from Sam Dashfield of Auckland and Baker. Defending National and North Island Champion, Ben Stewart of Wellington in a one-off appearance, was fourth ahead of Auckland driver’s Warren Crowther and Leo Bult.
Crowther won Sunday morning’s ten lap, top ten reverse grid race, making great progress from the middle of the top ten to quickly make the lead and take his first win, and in fact, first podium in the class. Crowther, Bult, Baker and Edwards were the big movers in the reverse top ten, finishing in that order in a frantic contest.
The finale saw Edwards win again from Crowther and Stewart while Baker came home fourth, taking the championship in the process. Masterton’s Matt Horne was fifth ahead of White Junior who managed to work his way to sixth place while Bult finished thirteenth in 2017/2018 Champion, Andrew Jackson’s car, after his own struck problems.
At the conclusion of the weekend, Edwards stood atop the round podium from Crowther and Baker but it was the latter who took the big prize. South Island Champion, Chris White Junior, took the runner-up spot in the championship while Warren Crowther, who was only ninth in the points coming into the round, had a stellar weekend jumping to third in the championship points, three ahead of Bult.
Meanwhile the MX5 Racing NZ Series also provided stunning racing. Dean Evans arrived at Hampton Downs with just a one-point lead over Marrku Braid and won all three MX5 battles, crossing the line side by side with Braid in the finale to win the MX5 title.
While the National Championship concluded this weekend the Nexen Tyre NZ Mazda Racing Series North Island Championship still has one round to run back at Hampton Downs over the weekend of 27/28 May.
Simon Baker of Wellington leads Rex Edwards of Tauranga during the action at the final round of the Nexen Tyre NZ Mazda Racing Series National Championship at Hampton Downs International Motorsport Park in North Waikato this weekend. Baker won the title while Edwards won two of the three races over the weekend – please credit Geoff Ridder.
New Zealand Championship Points
(Top 20 – full points available www.mazdaracingseries.co.nz)
1: Simon Baker (Wellington) 458
2: Chris White Jnr (Prebbleton) 419
3: Warren Crowther (Auckland) 345
4: Leo Bult (Auckland) 342
5: Matt Horne (Masterton) 324
6: Sam Dashfield (Auckland 300
7: Flynn Mullany (Auckland) 298
8: Dalan Price (Rangiora) 285
9: Elton Wichman (Auckland) 272
10: Matt Dodd (Christchurch) 270
11: Steve Brown (Auckland) 269
12: Rex Edwards (Tauranga) 243
13: Steven Spear (Auckland) 230
14: Karl Gaines (Auckland) 229
15: Anthony Tork (Auckland) 227
16: Phil Clemas (Auckland) 208
17: Alex Canty (Auckland) 165
18: Shane Paget (Rangiora) 151
19: Nigel Edger (Hamilton) 143
20: James Parker (Auckland) 115
1: Ken Thompson (Dunedin) – 264
2: Dave Ferguson (Waikato) – 88
NORTH ISLAND CHAMPIONSHIP (Top 6 After 5 Rounds)
1: Rex Edwards (Tauranga) 585
2: Simon Baker (Wellington) 533
3: Leo Bult (Auckland) 490
4: Matt Horne (Masterton) 441
5=: Karl Gaines (Auckland) 412
5=: Flynn Mullany (Auckland) 412