Two-time Australian Trans-Am title holder Nathan Herne qualified fastest in his Dodge Challenger and led throughout to win the first of three outings, the first full-fledged TA2 race held in New Zealand.
Herne was just 0.06s quicker than 18-year-old New Zealand Ben Stewart who was in his first TA2 drive aboard the John Roberts-owned Camaro. Stewart backed up the time by shadowing Herne throughout the 10-lap race.
Australian Graham Cheney (Camaro) finished third 10s adrift and just front of Kiwi Brent Collins (Challenger) who pressured him throughout after he passed Mark Crutcher (Ford Mustang) at the first corner on the opening lap.
In Peter Robinson's Dodge Challenger, Brad Gartner battled with Crutcher until he hit the back of his rival and spun him at Turn 9. Gartner went on to finish fifth, but the post-race 20s penalty dropped him to 10th.
New Zealand's Peter Ward (Camaro) was elevated to fifth ahead of Andrew Turner (NZ). Michael Coulter (Camaro) started at the rear after a mishap in qualifying and came through to seventh, as he held off the recovering Crutcher and Brett Rudd (NZ, Camaro).
Outside the top 10 were New Zealanders Amie Roberts (Camaro) and Steve Ross (Camaro), and Aussie Paul Hadley (Camaro) while his fellow countryman Greg Keam (Mustang) suffered a diff failure off the start.
Australia won the race, New Zealand lead the overall pointscore for the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy, and Herne heads driver points for the Howe Engineering Services Perpetual Trophy.
The Challenge was part of the fifth round of the Super Sprint NZ Championships. It also featured the third round of the Toyota 86 Championship which featured three Australians, and Castrol Toyota Formula Regional Oceania Championship.
Best of the Aussies was Lockie Bloxsom who stormed though to seventh from 12th on grid and ultimately finished sixth. Alice Buckley qualified 10th, dropped to 14th and ultimately finished 11th while Summer Rintoule start 22nd on the grid and improved three places.
There were no Aussies at this round of CTFRC with Elliot Cleary back in Australia for Trans Am and Tommy Smith for GB3 testing. It was another win for Poland's Roman Bilinski over his M2 Competition teammate and nearest title rival Liam Sceats (NZ) and American Jacob Abel.