After last year’s truncated two-round season, this year’s Golden Homes North Island Endurance Series returned to its usual look and delivered on the track with exciting races and interesting results.
The main-game three-hour championship title was presented to Alex Riberas and Darren Kelly from The Heart of Racing.
The pair ended the season tied on 280 points with Jonny Reid and Neil Foster but were awarded the title on a countback of pole positions.
Reid and Foster missed the final race at Pukekohe. However, a new rule implemented this season that allowed each entry to drop their worst round meant they were not affected points-wise.
Defending three-hour champions Glenn Smith and John De Veth finished the season third overall, a measly 18 points behind the front two.
Sam Fillmore and Andrew Fawcett were fourth, tied on points with series newcomers Lance Hughes and Chris van der Drift in the ex-Clark Proctor Nissan GT-R GT3.
Steve Harrison and Shane Murland were a noteworthy sixth overall and champions in the GT-B class, driving an Aston Martin Vantage GT8R.
Tony and Seton Head claimed top honours in Class 1 in their Toyota Altezza, benefitting from a costly DNS and DNF for Jono Lester and Matt Dovey.
Were it not for an alternator warning on the warm-up lap, which led to losing several laps in the series finale, Glenn Smith and John De Veth could have sealed a clean sweep of wins.
Instead, they end their title-winning year with three wins from four races and back-to-back championships for De Veth.
Anthony Leighs was a standout second overall on his debut season, driving an older-generation Audi R8 GT3.
The man who calls himself “a bit of a gentleman driver” scored his first win for the car at Pukekohe last weekend and finished each race on the podium.
John Midgley was third and the lead V8 SuperTourer in the field. He may have snatched second in the championship were it not for a tough final race.
Still, Midgley earned the title in the GT-B class.
Gene Rollinson was a super impressive fourth overall and winner in Class 2.
The giant-killing Hyundai TCR i30 N only entered the last three rounds, claiming results of fifth, fifth and sixth against cars with nearly twice the horsepower.
A collected wet-weather drive in the final race ensured Sean Kirkpatrick and James Webb lifted the champion’s trophy in the GT-C class and fifth overall.
Other class winners were Brock Timperley and John McIntyre in Class 1 and Mark Meadows in Class 3.
For the first time in series history, a two-hour clubman race was introduced onto the event programme.
A variety of 2K Cup, V8 Utes, Mazda Racing Series and Honda Cup cars took to the grid.
Inaugural overall champions were Wayne Leach and Paul Burborough in a BMW 235i.
Leach and Burborough did not win a race outright this season. However, their consistency over the year, including three podiums, meant they snatched the crown by ten points.
Second and top in Class 3 were Shane Parsons and Lindsay Lyons, while Todd and Rhys Bawden ended the year third overall.
While not finishing near the pointy end of the points table, Will Kitching and Thomas Mallard deserve recognition for finishing fifth in Class 3.
The two 14-year-olds may well be the youngster pairing ever to start a national endurance race, and they reached the chequered flag in the three races they entered.
Main Image: Neville Bailey