Edwards is Nexen Tyre NZ Mazda Racing Series North Island Champion

Tauranga driver Rex Edwards has been crowned the Nexen Tyre NZ Mazda Racing Series North Island Champion at Hampton Downs International Motorsport Park in North Waikato.

Edwards arrived at the final round at Hampton Downs International Motorsport Park in North Waikato this weekend with a 52-point lead over recently crowned National Champion, Simon Baker of Wellington, and sealed the title after two of the three races. Edwards then elected not to start the final race as his car has been sold to new owners in the South Island.

Baker finished the championship as runner-up after a tough start to the weekend in qualifying while Matt Horne of Masterton took third place after Leo Bult of Auckland, third in the points coming into the round, was unable to compete. Horne overhauled Bult’s points tally on Sunday morning while Aucklanders Warren Crowther, Karl Gaines and Flynn Mullany all leapfrogged Bult in the final race in his absence.

While the championship was the focal point of the weekend, vastly experienced Aucklander, Tom Alexander, made a big impact on his series debut winning the opening race of the round as well as the finale in the car usually driven by Sam Dashfield. Allied to a third place in the other contest on Sunday morning it gave the round to Alexander from Crowther and Gaines.

Edwards had begun the weekend by taking his third successive Premier Insulation $500 Pole Award with Alexander, in a one-off appearance, second fastest. National Champion and Edwards’ main rival for the North Island title, Simon Baker of Wellington, struck trouble in the short 15-minute session and was left languishing down the grid in fifteenth place.

Edwards led initially in the first race on Saturday afternoon as drizzle made the track very greasy. Alexander was soon into the lead however and he eventually crossed the line 5.973 seconds clear of Edwards with Crowther third ahead of Baker who put in a stunning drive to come home in fourth position.

Sunday morning’s 10 lap, top ten reverse grid race saw Edwards from near the back of the ten quickly slicing his way into the lead, a lead he was able to maintain all the way to the flag. Baker came through to second on the penultimate lap while Alexander was third, taking the last podium spot from Aucklander Steve Brown on the final lap.

With the championship in the bag Edwards skipped the final race and it was Alexander who led early from Baker. However, on the second lap the duo had a coming together. Baker was forced to retire while Alexander dropped back to ninth. From that point Alexander stormed back through the field, passing Warren Crowther for the race win on the final lap. Crowther was second with James Parker third. Meanwhile, Matt Horne suffered a puncture but continued to circulate, bringing his car home in fourteenth position, good enough to seal third place in the championship.

The race brought the Nexen Tyre NZ Mazda Racing Series to a close with Rex Edwards the North Island Champion, Baker the Masters Champion from Crowther and Gaines and Crowther the Rookie Champion from Mullany and Lance Gerlach of Auckland.

Earlier in the season Baker had clinched the New Zealand Championship while Chris White Junior of Prebbleton had won the South Island Championship.

Top Ten Points below:NORTH ISLAND CHAMPIONSHIP (Top 10)
1: Rex Edwards (Tauranga) 669
2: Simon Baker (Wellington) 602
3: Matt Horne (Masterton) 517
4: Warren Crowther (Auckland) 506
5: Karl Gaines (Auckland) 504
6: Flynn Mullany (Auckland) 498
7: Leo Bult (Auckland) 490
8: Steve Brown (Auckland) 446
9: Nigel Edger (Auckland) 433
10: Sam Dashfield (Auckland) 405

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