IRCThe champions of the 2010/11 IRC Series have been decided after a thrilling final round at the Taupo Motorsport Park over the Easter weekend.

After six hard-fought rounds of motor racing across ten classes and spanning the length of the North Island, the majority of the victors were still undecided until the very last lap of the final race around the technical and challenging 3.3km Taupo circuit.

Michael Shepherd went out on a high in the Formula First category, scoring a blistering poleposition lap – over 1.3 seconds clear of his nearest rival – and winning all three races by convincing margins from the chasing pack of squabbling youngguns including Ryan Hellier, Kyle George, David Ruthven and Matt Higham.

In doing so, Shepherd retires as a five-time New Zealand Formula First champion – the most successful driver in the history of the class.

Nick Chester upset the GT1 field in claiming pole position in his Holden V8 Supercar andwinning the opening race by ten seconds, but all eyes were on Craig Corliss and Andy Greenslade, who were never far from one-another all weekend long.

Corliss’ consistent run was enough for him to take the title from Greenslade’s Jaguar TranZam, with Clark Proctor scoring three solid finishes in GT2 to round out his championship challenge in the Metalman Escort.

Phil Kerr consolodated his handy points lead heading into Taupo to win the Pro 7 Series One title, while the battling Pro 7 Plus trio of James Parker, Dean McMillan and Myles Fothergill picked up in Taupo where they left off at Hampton Downs.

But, in dominant fashion it was McMillan who dominated the results sheets from start to finish, taking a clean sweep of qualifying and all three races.

Darren Swinburne wrapped up the HQ Holden title in the NZ6 Series despite the best efforts of his closest rivals, which in this case was two feamle drivers; Darryl Harris and Janine Douglas showing the boys how it’s done all season long.

Just up the road in the Super 6 class Shane Wenzlick didn’t have it all his own way as he looked to claim another championship victory from young gun Shannon Coker. It was too little too late for Coker, however, and Wenzlick’s first, third and fourth placings were enough for him to win the Super 6 championship title.

The season-long battle between Ian Hayr and Conal Dempsey in the Bridgestone Porsche Series saw Hayr take the championship title, but it wasn’t without a fight as he came away from the weekend winless for the first time all season. Brent Greer took the Bridgestone Championship Cup.

In the Super Mini Challenge, Mini 7 class young gun Elliot Heron experienced a difficultweekend but dug deep to come away with his first championship victory; his father Warren winning the round and claiming third overall.

The van Swets – Rick and Mark – were victorious Super and Miglia, while Robin Greenland’s healthy points gap in the Open Class left him with little pressure as he cruised to victory.

In an unexpected upset in the SS2000s, Justin Herbert’s two race wins, followed up with a second placing, was a hard act to follow for his rivals as he leapfrogged both David Geraghty and Phil Brown to take both the overall title, and the Honda Challenge, in his Honda Integra.

Caine Lobb showed his class in the Formula Suzuki/Sports Car classes, clean-sweeping the weekend without challenge from the chasing pack. In driving away from the field – one victory by 24 seconds, and another by 16 – Lobb claimed the Formula Suzuki Championship, with David Glasson similarly being crowned champion in the Sports Cars.

Brett Harris enjoyed a successful campaign in NZGT to take the series win from Kevin Hyde, despite Hyde’s impressive seven race wins to Harris’ one, proving that consistency pays dividends over the course of a race season.

The Pre 65 championship – with four classes making up the field – offered four tantalising prospects going into Taupo, and despite a sprited challenge from Peter Stevenson it was Bill McKinnon who took the Class A title.

Shane Hobman took a well deserved Class B title, a frontrunning performance from Gary Rush securing him Class D and Mark Bowskill benefiting from the absence of Dave Robinson to sneak in for the Class C victory.

The Easter weekend IRC Series racing at the Taupo Motorsport Park marked the final round of another successful season for all involved in the diverse class structure that makes up the series.

Preparations are already being made behind the scenes to go bigger and better again in 2011/12, where this year’s champions will return to take on full grids of hungry up-and-comers and established pedallers from across New Zealand.