New Zealand Endurance Champion Sam Fillmore won the opening round of the Open Class in the 2023/24 Summerset GT New Zealand Championship in a new Porsche 992, while 2022/23 Toyota 86 Championship winner Brock Gilchrist came away with GT4 honours in a McLaren 570S GT4.
Rick Armstrong drove strong all weekend in his new Porsche 992, recovering from a series of spins to claim second overall in the Open Class, ahead of 1-Hour winner Ayrton Hodson in a Porsche 991.1 in third.
Joel Giddy drove a Mercedes-AMG GT4 to second overall in the GT4 class, with newcomer Garth Piesse rounding out the round podium in a BMW M4 GT4.
A thrilling opening race on Saturday that saw Hodson hold on for victory in the wet on debut in the series was complimented by two 30-minute encounters on Sunday.
Fillmore backed up his fifth-placed finish from Saturday with victory in Sunday’s opener, taking the lead after an early Safety Car and holding on for honours.
The caution resulted from contact between the Ginetta GT4 of Steve Scoles and Piesse, caused by a brake failure from the former. The BMW returned to the track, but the Ginetta required a tow to the infield.
Armstrong led off the restart but was overcome by Fillmore at Turn 1 and found grief while battling amoung the chasing pack, taking contact from Hodson that put him onto the Turn 4 grass.
Fillmore went on to take the win ahead of Luke Manson (Porsche 992) and impressive teenager Reagan Scoullar (Porsche 991.2).
Giddy held off a late Gilchrist challenge for GT4 honours, while Allan Sargeant picked up third in the Ginetta G55.
Fortune was finally on the side of Armstrong in Race 3, seeing him take his maiden GT New Zealand Championship race win over Fillmore and Paul Southam (Porsche 991.2).
Gilchrist has found himself right at home in the class, taking his second GT4 win of the weekend ahead of Giddy and Piesse.
Before the final race had even begun, there was drama, with Scoles and Paul Pedersen (Ford Mustang) forced to withdraw, the former having not resolved his brake issue and the latter having an unresolved problem.
Rob Steele also opted to sit the race out, reporting delayed concussion symptoms following a heavy crash in Friday’s practice. Southam filled in for Steele and drove to the podium.
Hodson jumped the start of the race and was forced to serve a drive-through from the lead, with running over the first 20 minutes remaining clean until disaster struck for pole-sitter Manson entering the final 10.
Looking set for a podium, Manson fell victim to the conditions at Turn 1, running long and sliding into the tyres, which absorbed the impact and resulted in minimal damage to the Porsche.
Out front, Armstrong controlled proceedings over the final minutes once the Safety Car was called in, taking a well-earned victory over Fillmore and Southam.
The GT New Zealand Championship returns to action in the new year, with Round 2 taking place at Manfeild on January 26-28.