John De Veth has won a safety car-affected opening race to the Golden Homes North Island Endurance one-hour championship, benefitting from an early pitstop to claim a dominant win.
De Veth was one of several drivers who stopped under green at the ten-minute mark, the earliest at which the compulsory pit window opened. Falling as low as seventh, the McLaren driver then re-inherited the lead with 30-minutes on the clock as the safety car was deployed to recover Tim Edgell.
Defending one-hour champion Matt Whittaker finished in second, 31 seconds adrift of the McLaren with Callum Hedge rounding off the rostrum with a hard-fought third place in his older generation Porsche 991.
“The car is beautiful to drive. I just kept it on the track and stayed out of trouble and brought it home,” De Veth said.
“But I am little bit puffed. Sure gave those old legs a real workout so let’s hope I can walk tomorrow.”
An even start between pole-sitter De Veth and Whittaker had the two ran side-by-side out of Turn 1 with the McLaren laying claim to the lead on the run into the up-and-over.
Behind, Edgell headed Hedge and Andy Duffin while the most heated battle on track emerged between Matt Gibson and Nick Ross for tenth. The Corliss Race Engineering Tranzam Mustang hounded at the rear of Ross for several laps before making his move stick at Porsche Dipper.
A flurry of pitlane action then erupted when Seff Chambers spun at Turn 10 at the ten-minute mark.
De Veth took the opportunity to pit in an anticipation of a safety car. However, Chambers was able to turn himself around in the right direction and keep the race green which gifted the provisional lead to Edgell. The ITM SuperTourer had muscled his way ahead of Whittaker at Turn 1 and looked to be in a shot of a podium result.
But his race unfolded dramatically when he slowed to a halt on the entry to the final turn. The SuperTourer’s day was done and he finished 23-laps down in 26th overall.
Those who hadn’t made their compulsory stop then took advantage of the yellow and cycled the lane and when the race was restarted it was De Veth who had found himself at the head of the queue with Whittaker in tow.
John Midgley in his Ford Falcon SuperTourer had been promoted to third amid the pitstop chaos but was closely pursued after by Hedge. The 16-year-old put up a feisty challenge on Midgley, rubbing shoulders on the exit of Turn 9.
Midgley would finally yield the position to Hedge with just a handful of minutes left to run when the Porsche bullied himself into a closing gap at Turn 2. He followed Whitaker home 12 seconds behind to round off the podium.
Winner, De Veth is set to head to Ruapuna for the second round of the South Island Endurance Series early next month, saying before the weekend he was using this round as a testing event before deciding whether to head South.
The final round of the North Island one-hour championship will be from Pukekohe Park on October 24.
- John De Veth
- Matt Whittaker
- Callum Hedge
- John Midgley
- Andy Duffin/Jason Liefting
- Nick Ross
- Bob Sievwright
- James Kirkpatrick
- Lochlainn Fitzgerald-Symes
- Sam Filmore/Andrew Fawcett