All it took was a faulty $22 steering joint to cost Andy Booth, any chance of challenging for a top 3 championship position at round 6 of the BNTV8 series held at Taupo Motorsport Park last weekend. The tie-rod pin snapped little more than 1 lap from the finish of race 2 as the two-time champion held a comfortable 6th position ahead of current NZV8 champ Craig Baird sending the #23 Holden Commodore straight off the track into retirement.
Booth started the weekend qualifying 8th in Saturday’s top ten shootout continuing his record of making every qualifying shootout this season, the crew later discovered a faulty front shock absorber so confidence was high for much improved race pace on Sunday.
Race 1 started with the expected biff and bash into turn 1 with several cars getting turned around in front of the field. The Rock Commodore settled into 6th position as part of a trio of cars chasing down the fast starting John Penny. On the second lap Booth shot down the inside of Penny into turn 1 but locked the rear brakes and ran wide, losing the position plus 2 more. The order remained unchanged for the rest of the 10 lap race and Booth crossed the line in 8th position.
The ill fated race 2 started well with Booth moving up into 6th position after more 1st corner niggle. The first lap jostling created a 2 second gap between the lead group and The Rock car, with improved handling Booth was able to match the pace of the lead group but could not close the gap. Half way though lap 9, the steering joint snapped going through turn 7 and Booth’s race was done.
“I couldn’t believe it when the steering broke but hey, that’s motor racing” Booth said after the race “We had ball joint break on the same corner of the car in practice so it may well be that the steering component was damaged at that time but really it’s just one of those things”
The opportunity to end the weekend on a high came with the 20 lap final race and Booth was determined to make the most of it. After chasing initial race leader Nick Ross for 6 laps The Rock Commodore seized the lead when Ross was slow onto the straight. Booth then lead for the next 6 laps whilst engaging in a thrilling wheel to wheel battle with emerging star Scott McLaughlin who had been devastatingly quick all weekend. The battle had the crowd on their feet for several laps but with the grips level on his car starting to fade Booth struggled to hold off the Supercheap Auto car of McLaughlin and ultimately had to relinquish the lead after a fierce braking duel at the end of the main straight.
Despite his best efforts with deteriorating car speed Booth could not close back up to McLaughlin and had to settle for 2nd whilst McLaughlin went on to become the youngest ever winner of an NZV8 race at age 17.
“The set up changes for the last race worked against us but it was great for the team to get on the podium after the disappointment of race 2”
“The fight with young Scott was great fun, he’s here (in the NZV8s) to learn door to door racing so I thought I’d give him a few lessons in defensive lines! “ quipped Booth, adding “Seriously though, he did a great job and is certainly the find of the year for NZ Motorsport”
Coming into the weekend 5th overall Booth had been totally focussed on scoring enough points to be able to fight for a top 3 final standing after next month’s final round on the street of Hamilton. The zero points haul from race 2 all but extinguished that hope so the focus will now switch to achieving the best individual race results possible at Hamilton.
The final round of the BNT V8 Championship takes place on the streets of Hamilton at the ITM400 on April 15-17