by Andrew van Leeuwen
Craig Baird is in the box seat to win the first round of the re-born Porsche Carrera Cup, after winning race two at the 2011 Formula 1 Qantas Australian Grand Prix.
Having finished second to fellow-Kiwi Jonny Reid yesterday, Baird bolted from the front row of the grid and was never troubled throughout the eight laps.
His winning margin was 9.6sec, and he now holds a 24-point lead heading into tomorrow’s final.
With a lap to go, the top three for the race looked like a foregone conclusion. With Baird way in front, Reid settled into a comfortable second place; well behind the leader, but well ahead of the battle for third.
Meanwhile, Briton Ben Barker looked to have third sewn up, having battled hard with Steven Richards and Daniel Gaunt for the final podium spot.
But in the last few corners of the race, disaster struck both Reid and Barker. Reid slowed dramatically, a problem seeing him limp across the line in sixth place, while Barker ran wide at turn 15, recovering to finish fourth.
Their misfortune benefited Gaunt and Richards, who wound up second and third respectively amidst the drama.
“I was a bit fortunate at the end,” said Gaunt.
“The plan for tomorrow is to hold position, or try and go one better!”