NZ Performance Car - - Contents -

Whiter forced Arm­strong to pedal hard, pulling a decent gap dur­ing his lead run, but the de­fend­ing cham­pion wasn’t hold­ing any­thing back on his own lead run, with a 196kph ini­ti­a­tion — also claim­ing the fastest speed for the week­end. The tight bat­tle would have the judges lean to­wards Whiter, award­ing him his first round win since re­turn­ing to the se­ries, giv­ing him enough points to el­e­vate his cham­pi­onship stand­ing from ninth to third and nar­rowly edge out Hill by just 18 points.

On com­ing fourth over­all, Hill said: “I never even thought I’d be com­ing up against these guys, be­ing so com­pet­i­tive this early on in my ca­reer here … the qual­ity here in New Zealand is crazy com­pared to what I’m used to back in Aus­tralia.

“The driv­ing qual­ity here is un­real ... I love driv­ing here more [than in Aus­tralia]. I lit­er­ally do not want to go home and would do an­other sea­son right now.”

Whiter said that it was a big sur­prise to come back and get third over­all: “We did it three sea­sons ago af­ter a ter­ri­ble run … [This sea­son] has been a test­ing one. It’s about be­ing con­sis­tent, and we did’nt have that this year with car is­sues. But, driv­ing-wise, we were pretty con­fi­dent and qual­i­fied top over­all here at Puke.

“I had a blast out there with Cole pushing the car to the ab­so­lute limit. You feed off each other, and you need to keep

pushing to make ev­ery­one bet­ter, which is what we like to do. It makes it more en­joy­able for ev­ery­one, more en­joy­able to watch, and just pushes ev­ery­one fur­ther and fur­ther. It’s just good fun.”

With Arm­strong in sec­ond for the round, it would bump Kelly back into sec­ond on the leader board and re­tain Arm­strong the ti­tle by just seven points’ dif­fer­ence — the first back-to-back cham­pi­onship win since Whiter did it six years ago with a triple streak.

On com­ing sec­ond, Kelly said: “It’s a mixed feel­ing [to fin­ish the cham­pi­onship in sec­ond]. Ob­vi­ously, we were com­ing into the fi­nal lead­ing; to fin­ish that close is a little dis­ap­point­ing, but it’s a first and sec­ond for the team, and we knew it was go­ing to be a fight to the end, for sure.

“Cole’s driven amaz­ing this year, and so has ev­ery­one else — the whole field has stepped up mas­sively. It’s been a tough sea­son for our team, and hasn’t be a dream run by any means while get­ting the car di­alled in through­out. Al­though we’ve had two podi­ums this sea­son, a first and a sec­ond, and up there with qual­i­fy­ing … next sea­son, we want to get some more seat time and fine-tune the car to get back in that [ti­tle] con­tention.”

And, from the back-to-back DK him­self, Arm­strong told us: “Con­sis­tency is key, man. This sea­son, we tried to build an old car into some­thing com­pet­i­tive, and it goes to show that, no mat­ter what chas­sis we’re in, we can put to­gether a re­ally solid pack­age

pro-sport rookie Liam Burke claimed the pro-sport ti­tle, fin­ish­ing 82 points ahead of Jordy Cole. dur­ing the podium pre­sen­taion liam dropped on one knee and popped the ques­tion to his part­ner Lasharn to wrap up a solid sea­son in the mea­sure up S13

he got to do con­sis­tent runs in his car; no is­sues, no faults.

“It wasn’t the best sea­son this year — I had a few mis­takes, a few crashes — but we just kept striv­ing and pushing. It’s un­real to come here and go one-and-two with my good friend Dar­ren [Kelly]. Next year, we’re go­ing to work some­thing re­ally cool, be­cause, if both of us can put our knowl­edge to­gether, it’s go­ing to be a force to reck­oned with.

“Next year is [set to be] his year. We can only help each other get to where we want to be and the achieve­ments that we can get could be global, you know? Who knows where things could go. We had some awesome runs out on the track to­gether. Bring on next year.”

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