Cook wins saloon GP

CHAMPION DRIVER: Hard-charging Gisborne saloon car racer Ethan Cook (76G) completed an exhausting 16-competition road trip with a career-high win in the New Zealand Saloon Grand Prix in Blenheim on Tuesday night. He is pictured in action at the Eastland Group Raceway this season. Picture by Liam Clayton
Ethan Cook stands atop the podium after winning the 2018 MTF Finance New Zealand Saloon Grand Prix in Blenheim. Second was Michelle Wymer (Mt Maunganui) and third was Robert Flood (Blenheim). Picture by Sam Hogan

GISBORNE saloon car racer Ethan Cook (76G) achieved a career-high win when he took out the New Zealand Saloon Grand Prix at the Eastern States Speedway in Blenheim on Tuesday night.

The gutsy 23-year-old, who loves to drive the outside line, headed home a top-quality field of 32 cars from around the country.

“It was definitely the best result of my career to date, and I am rapt,” he told The Herald yesterday.

“We have been away from home since Saloon Speedweek started on Boxing Day and after that disappointement at the New Zealand champs in Christchurch it feels outstanding to go to Blenheim and win the GP.”

Cook was leading the heat that would have put him in the national final when he had engine failure. He got back out for the second-tier final, though, and finished runner-up.

He said Tuesday’s event in Blenheim turned out to be a long night.

“They went through qualifying, quarterfinals and then the final. The final finished at 1.15am on Wednesday.”

Cook finished second and third in his two heats, then seventh and third in the quarters to make the 22-car final, where he went from outside pole position.

“I got a really good start and just drove round the car alongside me to get my nose in front on the first corner.

“I pulled out to a good lead on the field but then we had a caution halfway through that closed the field up again.

“But I managed to get another good start from the restart and pulled away again. I won by half a lap.”

Car performed brilliantly

Cook said his car went brilliantly.

“The crew did such a great job setting it up and I really appreciate their support. They were fantastic.”

His elder brother Daniel, driving 77G, also went well in Blenheim after his highly creditable fifth in the New Zealand championships.

“Daniel qualified for the quarters, too, on Tuesday night and was top qualifier in his group.

“Unfortunately in the quarterfinals he got caught up in a crash that damaged his front suspension.

“The team got it fixed, but then in the next race he lost power-steering halfway through and had to withdraw.”

Cook said it had been an outstanding road trip for both of them.

“Now we are looking forward to getting home.”

GISBORNE saloon car racer Ethan Cook (76G) achieved a career-high win when he took out the New Zealand Saloon Grand Prix at the Eastern States Speedway in Blenheim on Tuesday night.

The gutsy 23-year-old, who loves to drive the outside line, headed home a top-quality field of 32 cars from around the country.

“It was definitely the best result of my career to date, and I am rapt,” he told The Herald yesterday.

“We have been away from home since Saloon Speedweek started on Boxing Day and after that disappointement at the New Zealand champs in Christchurch it feels outstanding to go to Blenheim and win the GP.”

Cook was leading the heat that would have put him in the national final when he had engine failure. He got back out for the second-tier final, though, and finished runner-up.

He said Tuesday’s event in Blenheim turned out to be a long night.

“They went through qualifying, quarterfinals and then the final. The final finished at 1.15am on Wednesday.”

Cook finished second and third in his two heats, then seventh and third in the quarters to make the 22-car final, where he went from outside pole position.

“I got a really good start and just drove round the car alongside me to get my nose in front on the first corner.

“I pulled out to a good lead on the field but then we had a caution halfway through that closed the field up again.

“But I managed to get another good start from the restart and pulled away again. I won by half a lap.”

Car performed brilliantly

Cook said his car went brilliantly.

“The crew did such a great job setting it up and I really appreciate their support. They were fantastic.”

His elder brother Daniel, driving 77G, also went well in Blenheim after his highly creditable fifth in the New Zealand championships.

“Daniel qualified for the quarters, too, on Tuesday night and was top qualifier in his group.

“Unfortunately in the quarterfinals he got caught up in a crash that damaged his front suspension.

“The team got it fixed, but then in the next race he lost power-steering halfway through and had to withdraw.”

Cook said it had been an outstanding road trip for both of them.

“Now we are looking forward to getting home.”

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