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19/4/2005 13:50 (Press Release) - Wright Patton Shakespeare driving ace, Craig Baird, gave fans in his native homeland plenty to cheer about after blitzing race one of the Porsche GT3 Cup at the second round of the V8 Supercar Championship in New Zealand today.

The affable Kiwi, who is now based on the Gold Coast, already stitched up the GT3 championship in the previous round but revelled in near-perfect race conditions to win the second race in Pukekohe from Matt Halliday and veteran Jim Richards in third.

The Porsche win provided a silver lining in an otherwise gloomy day for Baird and his WPS Racing V8 teammate David Besnard after finishing the day 31st and 29th respectively.

“It was great to win out there in front of this very patriotic crowd,” said Baird, who is also contesting the second round of the V8 supercars in the WPS Racing car No.8.

“Despite having already won the championship, it was a great buzz. You can never have too much time in the car on a fast and testing circuit like Pukekohe.”

Baird posted the fastest lap time on lap 11 of the race with a 58.94 - a fraction faster than Halliday’s impressive 58.97.

“The circuit is faster than last year and it has been improved with a new surface, which made for some competitive racing,” he said.

In the V8 category, Besnard was the first to pit after making contact with another driver on lap one, partially dislodging the tail wing of the car and then being black-flagged to have the damage repaired.

Besnard experienced further problems when his front splitter collapsed, resulting in an extended pitstop.

“It was a frustrating race in many ways as the car generally felt good,” he said.

“Unfortunately I copped a hit from behind and then in the pits I was hit by John Bowe and a few of the team had to dive for cover.”

Baird meanwhile, posted a DNF after experiencing equipment failure on lap two.

The 34-year-old’s front sway bar collapsed on the Falcon but he nursed the car until lap 14.

“I was going to pull out on lap two but kept going in order to accrue points, but I then had an incident on lap 14 and was forced to retire the race,” said Baird.

“That’s the highs and lows of racing.”

Release Date: 16/04/2005

WPS Racing