This weekend’s (11–13 March) penultimate round of the NZ V8s championship at Taupo puts defending champion Craig Baird in a pressure position to reel in the 45-points needed to get the series lead.
Currently sitting in second overall on 792 points after five of the seven rounds on the 2010/2011 summer series calendar, Baird says the coming weekend is more about driver ability. Leading the series is Angus Fogg with 829 series points.
Baird is piloting the #1 United Video Racing Ford and the Gold Coast based Kiwi has three races worth a possible 225 championship points ahead:
“Taupo’s race circuit is one where you can drag a lot more of the lap time out of being in the seat, as opposed to just relying on horsepower – it’s a track more reliant on driver ability,” he said. “Plus after our engine got hot at the recent Manfeild race round, we’ve got a newie for the Taupo weekend.”
But it’s not a point the father of two ranks as taking up the most of his recent thinking time. With 25 New Zealand championship titles to his name, Baird says he’d give-up the hard fought accolades in an instant if he could re-unite a broken family from any one of the recent disasters.
“As a nation of Kiwi’s we’ve had a tough time this race season. We started in the wake of September’s Canterbury earthquake, then the Pike River mining tragedy and now the recent devastation in Christchurch. to bring home someone’s mother, sister, brother or father for any one of my championship wins – I’d do it in a heartbeat.”
“I was reading a newspaper here in Australia and there was a picture of a father, son and daughter, who’d just been given news their mother wouldn’t be ever coming home after the 22 February Christchurch quake. It puts your whole life in to a new perspective, especially as a father, you have an empathy, a wanting to do anything to change the situation.”
“It’s really kept us humbled and I guess is a great reminder to acknowledge our loved ones and the things we love to do. If I can bring that bit more joy and entertainment to someone’s life with what I’m doing, then it’s a part of what I can do at keeping the wheels of life turning.”
Confident the team headed by his father-in-law Garry Pedersen can deliver him a precisely set-up car, Baird says its then up to him to repeat past success.
The weekend starts with a hot-lap ride session late Friday afternoon before the team return the car to full race trim for the two test sessions on Saturday to fine-tune the car’s handling. Needing to set a top-ten fastest time in the afternoon qualifying, the aim will be to then come out best in the one-lap shootout for pole position ahead of Sunday’s first ten-lap race. The finish order then determines the start grid for the early afternoon second ten-lap race, with the aggregate points tally reversed to set the starting positions for the 20 lap late afternoon full-reverse grid race.