Adam Julian has been crowned South Island Endurance Series Class 2 & 3 1-Hour champion after a post-race penalty relegated winner Matt Whittaker to second in yesterday’s race at Levels Raceway in Timaru.
Whittaker, who won the opening round at Ruapuna and finished third at Teretonga, entered the round with a one-point advantage over his rival, who finished third in the season-opener and second in Southland, creating a winner-take-all battle for championship honours.
Teretonga winner Jordan Michels set the time to beat in qualifying, putting his Marc II Mustang on pole over the Marc GT over Nick Chester. Julian took the advantage over his rival, qualifying the #84 Audi R8 GT3 on the second row, next to Heremana Malmezac (Porsche GT3 Cup 991.2MR), with Whittaker left on the third row in fifth.
Chester would take the advantage off the start, while Michels received contact entering Turn 1, which broke a left rear damper and forced him to retire from the race.
With the pole-sitter gone from contention, Whittaker jumped to second ahead of Malmezac and Julian before a daring pass under braking to seize the lead from Chester on lap five.
Malmezac went on to suffer a similar fate to Michels laps later, with the #910 Porsche pulling off with smoke coming from the rear and forced into retirement, bringing out a Safety Car after just 12 minutes of racing.
Whittaker continued to lead Chester and Julian off the restart, with Ayrton Hodson (Porsche GT3 Cup 991.1) and Luke Manson (Porsche GT3 Cup 992) moving into the top five, ahead of Steve Brooks (Porsche GT3 Cup 992).
Manson’s charge would also be cut short with the Porsche pulling onto the grass and bringing out a second Safety Car at the race’s mid-point.
Hodson lost out on the caution, having just come in for a stop, dropping him down the order as others pitted under Safety Car conditions.
Chester also lost ground after a right rear brake nipple worked loose, putting him two laps down after an enforced second pit stop.
Whittaker continued to lead off the restart with 20 minutes to run but had a 10-second penalty hanging over him from an infringement while under the first caution period.
With Chester now two laps down, Julian only needed to remain within 10 seconds to secure the win, which he managed to do over the final 20 minutes to secure the victory, coming home just 2.8 seconds behind.
Bill Riding, meanwhile, had taken the wheel off Brooks following their stop and took and held third off a charging Allan Dippie (Porsche GT3 Cup S) before pulling clear and securing a podium for the pairing.
Dippie would come home fourth, ahead of a fast-finishing Grant Silvester (Ford Mustang), the first of the Class 3 competitors.
Glen Brazier (Porsche GT3 Cup 992), Scott Flanagan (Porsche GT3 Cup 991.2), Marty Neill (Porsche GT3 Cup 991.1), Hodson and Francois Beziac (Porsche GT3 Cup 991.2MR) rounded out the top ten.
Steve Scoles (Ginetta G56) finished 11th overall and second in Class 3, securing the 2023 title.
Header Image: SIERDC