The battle for the 2020 Championship amongst the Group 1 machines has become even more challenging mid-way through the season with the top three contenders now separated by only 10 points.
Coming into the third round at Pukekohe, Dean Perkins was holding lead position on 397, 12 ahead of Dean Hansen Racing and 17 ahead of Angus Fogg Racing, but due to the results from the Saturday runs, it has tightened immensely.
Perkins still holds sway on 495, but Hansen and Fogg have both taken chunks away from him and are sitting second equal on 485.
Perkins could also face a possible points penalty from Saturday’s Race 2, and will be meeting with the officials on Sunday to discuss the contact infringement. The outcome of that meeting will be crucial for Perkins as he could potentially lose 50 points – the equivalent of a race win.
In saying that, all three of these front-running contenders will have zero focus on any off-track decisions and will be concentrating fully towards the on-track competition.
The points system for the category is tight, 50 is given to a race winner, 49 for second and 48 for third with the numbers continuing in progressive order relative to the finishing position. This is why so much focus is placed not on the first and last races of a weekend which are standard scratch girds, but on the two handicap races held in-between.
Whilst it is fun and entertaining for those watching on, the drivers are focused on points and having to hustle through the field to gain them is both important and daunting.
As the regular competitors for the season, Perkins, Hansen and Fogg are also having to deal with various and sporadic returnees such as Andy Knight, Shane Wigston and John Midgley – all of whom are consistent point thieves.
It’s not just restricted to those names however, as the likes of Steve Doughty, Bruce Anderson, and Greg Honnor have once again placed themselves into positions that take valuable numbers away from the top three.
Bruce Anderson is running in the XE Falcon normally driven by his son Andrew, but while Anderson senior is repairing his Mustang after the Bathurst adventure, he is peddling the tribute Falcon across the Pukekohe tarmac – and his 4th placing in Saturday’s Race 2 was great for him but not so good for the others.
The points gained during this mid-season battle will cement the approach taken across the remaining rounds, starting with the Handicap and Scratch races Sunday afternoon at Pukekohe.
With only 10 points of separation there can be no mistakes.