Thirty-three entries have been recorded for the three-hour New Zealand Endurance Championship at Highlands Motorsport Park over the weekend.
The most intriguing battle-pack will be up front with incumbent South Island endurance champions Alex Riberas and Darren Kelly in the Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 reigniting their duel with reigning North Island victors Glenn Smith and John De Veth.
Smith and De Veth won both rounds of the North Island series in their McLaren 650s GT and will be coming into the race full of confidence.
A quartet of Audis will also be out to snatch away the overall crown. The favourites will be the defending NZ champions Neil Foster and Jonny Reid in the International Motorsport Audi R8 LMS weapon.
Just behind will be teammates Andrew Fawcett and Sam Fillmore who able to drag themselves to second overall in the North Island campaign despite not having the pace to match either the McLaren or Aston Martin.
FIA Formula 3 race winner Liam Lawson will make his tin-top debut alongside Scott O’Donnell in the Track Tec Racing R8. Christina Orr-West and Brendon Leitch will link up once again in their ex-Foster 2014 Audi R8.
Following a big race-ending crash in the final South Island race at Timaru, John McIntyre and Simon Gilbertson will be out in force with the Chevrolet Camaro GT3. Upgrades to the car between seasons, coupled with the impressive pace of McIntyre should have led to more robust results for the pairing. But they were let down by reliability dramas and are yet to muster together a complete race weekend.
Four-time Bathurst 1000 winner Greg Murphy will team up with Dwayne Carter in the new-generation Mercedes AMG GT3.
Class C will see an intriguing battle between South Island champions Scott and Craig McDermid (RX8) and the V8 muscle of Lance Hughes and Simon Evans in the Holden SuperTourer. After a strong debut North Island campaign, Jono Lester and Matt Dovey will be out in their Audi RS5 machine, and no doubt be a threat for the class victory.
Hayden Paddon reunites with Jordan Michels in the Hyundai i30 TCR in Class B (2001-3500cc). The two only managed one race together in Timaru where a fuel pump drama thwarted their race.
Two more i30 TCRs will be in the mix. Gene Rollinson and Craig Innes will be out to represent the North Island championship, while Jaden Ransley and Rhys Gould are hoping to have put an end to their ill-fated reliability and will be representing the South Island.
Fresh off their South Island class title win, Rowan Shepherd and Lochlainn Fitzgerald-Symes return in their Audi TCR RS3 LMS.
Barry Moore/Tim Mackersy and Michael Driver/Phillip Hood cap off a six-car TCR battle in their Volkswagen Golf GTi TCRs.
Live coverage of this year’s NZ Endurance Championships will be on Sky Sport 5 with the three-hour race scheduled to get underway from 1 pm.
Main Image: Euan Cameron
Three-hour entry list:
- 1, Neil Foster/Jonny Reid, Audi R8 FIA GT3
- 4, Oliver Heycoop/Brock Cooley, Toyota Corolla
- 5, Gene Rollinson/Craig Innes, Hyundai i30N TCR
- 6, Rhys Gould/Jayden Ransley, Hyundai i30N TCR
- 10, Andrew Fawcett/Sam Fillmore, Audi R8
- 18, Simon Gilbertson/John McIntyre, Chevrolet Camaro GT3
- 19, Dwayne Carter/Greg Murphy, Mercedes Gt GT3
- 21, Patrick Heagney/Ryan Heagney, Toyota Sprinter GTV
- 24, Rob Williams/Phil Blythe, Porsche 997 GT 3 Cup car
- 25, James Kirkpatrick/Simon Sceats, Porsche 997 Cup Car
- 26, Rowan Shepherd/Lochlainn Fitzgerald-Symes, Audi TCR RS3 LMS
- 28, Anthony Leighs/Paul Kelly, Porsche Cup
- 33, Hayden Paddon/Jordan Michels, Hyundai 30N TCR
- 37, Scott McDermid/Craig McDermid, Toyota 86 Enduro
- 47, Cameron Davies/Flyn Mitchell, Mazda RX8
- 52, Alex Reberas/Darren Kelly, Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3
- 65, Grant Askew/Cole Askew, Seat Supacup
- 66, Michael Driver/Phillip Hood, VW Golf GTI TCR
- 70, Mark Taylor/Vaughan Moloney, Honda Integra
- 71, Noel Simons//David Berry, Honda Integra VTi
- 79, Barry Moore/Tim Mackersy, Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR
- 80, Matt Dovey/Jono Lester, Audi RS5
- 81, Darryl Barrett/Hamish Frew, V8 Supertourer Falcon
- 84, Lance Hughes/Simon Evans, Holden Commodore
- 87, Scott O’Donnell/Liam Lawson, Audi R8 LMS
- 90, Glenn Smith/John DeVeth, McLaren 650S GT
- 94, Tim Stanton/Adam Leyton/Tremain PUGSTANG Cub Colt
- 96, Darryl Phillips/Terence Phillips, Honda Civic
- 111, Shane Helms/Stephen Harrison, Aston Martin Vantage GT8R
- 118, Grant Silvester/Dean Perkins, Ford Falcon
- 141, Christina Orr/Brendon Leitch, Audi R8 LMS Ultra
- 275, Ron Mackersy/Warren Good, Volkswagen Golf CUP
- 991, Martin Dippie/Allan Dippie, Porsche GT3 Cup car – 991.1