This year’s two-round Golden Homes North Island Endurance Championship will conclude on the ‘traditional’ Pukekohe Park layout, bypassing the complex section that was instigated back in 2013 in time for the return of Supercars.
The decision was determined via a drivers’ vote with the old configuration a seemingly more popular alternative than the 11-turn current configuration.
The championship has previously attempted to re-homologate the original layout back in 2015 but noise restrictions quickly saw any running curtailed and the series was forced to make a hasty return to the new configuration.
Ultimately, the long back straight which leads into the tight Turn 8 hairpin means teams will have to make subtle setup changes to increase top-end speed while ensuring brakes are kept at optimal temperature and wear.
The Three Hour race could prove interesting with cars now forced to run on the speed limiter longer while dealing with a persistent heavy braking zone. Similarly, it will also mean drivers in much quicker machinery will have to be more shrewd when it comes to navigating slower traffic along the straight.
Series organisers also announced earlier in the year a raft of new rule changes aimed at making the championship more accessible and encouraging large entry numbers.
The One Hour race will now be opened to both amateur and ‘Elite’ drivers, the latter of which had previously been banned from entering the class.
Other changes include changes to the pitstop regulations to level the playing field and expanding the One Hour car eligibility regulations to include [by invitation only] fully complying older GT3 cars, running the appropriate FIA approved BOP for the cars period.
Already plenty of entries have confirmed their presence for the championship with former champions Glenn Smith and John de Veth confirmed to run their GT3 McLaren. Meanwhile, the International Motorsport-prepared Audi R8 GT3 piloted Andrew Fawcett and Sam Fillimore are primed as early title favourites.
On Monday it was also confirmed that ex-D1NZ drifting champion Darren Kelly will run an Aston Martin Vantage GT3 in both the North and South Island series’, partner experienced Spanish GT racer Alex Riberas.
The opening round of the championship will be held at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park on the 2.9km National Circuit layout. The event is slated for September 18-19 with the final round at Pukekohe set for October 23-24.
The series will then combine with the top cars from the Carters Tyres South Island Endurance championship for the New Zealand grand finale at Highlands Motorsport Park on November 6–7.