A polished final performance helped Andy Booth and The Rock Commodore storm home to take third place overall in the BNT NZV8 Championship at the ITM400 street race in Hamilton over the weekend.
After struggling for pace and ending up eleventh in Friday’s qualifying session, the AV8 Motorsport team made crucial adjustments to the car set up for Saturday’s race one and the results were felt immediately. In difficult, wet conditions on Saturday, Booth charged through in the opening laps and swapped positions on multiple occasions with Craig Baird and Andy Knight. As the laps ticked over, Booth found the extra bit of speed needed to edge out Knight and nabbed 4th position by only 0.002 of a second.
Come Sunday morning, the team were still buoyant from the result of race one, and the performance The Rock Commodore was showing. The possibility of some championship position movement in the top four drivers added to the excitement and the team were champing at the bit to hit the track. Booth had a slow start to the race but staged a phenomenal comeback passing numerous cars and starting exciting battles with Wade Henshaw and Eddie Bell as he made his way up the field to third place. Booth’s #23 Commodore was absolutely flying setting the fastest race lap, and challenged Bell doggedly for second position as the pair in turn closed in on race leader John McIntyre. In the closing laps of the race, Booth clipped the wall bending the steering and nursed the car home in third position to bank the valuable championship points.
The final race of the season had all eyes on the track with Booth starting second on the grid. After seven rounds of close racing across the season, the top three positions in the championship were still up for contention making the racing even more intense, and the drivers throwing everything they could in to their race to gain every point available. The race almost ended before it began for Booth as light contact with Henshaw at the start sent The Rock Commodore into a wild “tank slapper” slide right next to pit wall. Booth gathered the car up and settled in behind race leader John McIntyre. The mid race fight between Booth and Fogg was particularly epic as the two professionals threw everything at each other lap after lap, the order sometimes changing three or four times in successive corners. As the track dried Booth managed to gain the upper hand and cleared out into second place behind McIntyre who was now too far down the road to chase.
The three great race results saw Booth finish second overall for the round but most importantly achieve the team’s late season goal of getting into the top three in the final championship standings. Booth’s third position on the championship podium sees him behind Championship winner McIntyre and defending champ Craig Baird in second.
“This is without doubt one of the most enjoyable and satisfying weekend’s of racing I think the whole team has had in years” a clearly delight Booth said after race three
“All the races have been great but that last one, dicing with Foggy, mate that’ll be etched in my mind forever! He’s a great guy to race against, I don’t think we made contact once. To be honest I think we were both secretly trying to put on a show”
Commenting on the championship result Booth said “The smiles on the crew member’s faces is the best reward, they’ve worked really hard in difficult circumstances this season and this result helps pay them back”