When Andrew Kitching watched his son Will take the chequered flag at Highlands Motorsport Park on Saturday, he couldn’t be prouder.
The father/son combo had won their class in their first three-hour endurance race together.
“I’ve been involved in motorsport and racing for a long time now,” Kitching told Velocity News. “But that was my most enjoyable race ever.
“To do it with Will is just so special. It’s something I’ll remember for quite a long time.”
Will has only been racing cars for two years. The Timaru teenager made his Formula Ford debut earlier this year and is competing in the series again over the summer.
He had never driven at Highlands before, while Andrew had done a club event on a different track configuration.
“We decided why not and take our first foray into the three-hour.
“[Highlands] is a bigger circuit and with the Auckland guys not racing on the weekend, there’d be less numbers. So, I thought it would be the safest round for Will to race in.”
The Kitchings were racing their trusty Honda Civic on a grid that boasted some of the country’s fastest GT3 weapons.
A stock fuel tank meant they would have to make at least three stops for fuel across the race.
Friday testing was limited by several red flags and stoppages. Ultimately, Andrew and Will got roughly 45 minutes between them to learn the circuit.
Still, by the end of the testing day, Will was within three-tenths of his father’s fastest time. And it seemed Will was only going to get quicker.
“On his fourth or fifth lap in the race he was already faster than me. Something like two-seconds faster,” Andrew laughed. “I was pretty proud of him.”
Andrew and Will were in Class A for the three-hour. Three entries made up the class, all of which were father/son teams.
The smaller fuel tank was always going to hinder the Kitchings’ race. But when everyone else started to run into trouble, they stayed clean and ran at their own pace.
With 40 minutes remaining, Will unlapped himself from erstwhile class leaders Terence and Darryl Phillips.
After one last top-up of fuel, Will laid down a tally of lightning laps and soon took over the class lead.
From there, it seemed like a leisurely cruise to the finish. However, that was far from the case.
“We only had one set of new tyres, and they were down to the second steel belt by the finish,” Kitching said. “They only had about ten minutes of life left.
“Will was also in fuel conservation for the final few laps.”
But nothing could upset the pride and joy Kitching was feeling after the race.
“Our goal was just to finish the race. But to win, with Will, is border on emotional.”
The duo finished 11th overall. But Kitching believes they could have come home a few places higher were it not for all their fuel stops.
“Without the two extra stops, we maybe could have finished eighth or ninth overall.
“The car just didn’t miss a beat all race.”
The Kitchings had only planned to do the one round at Highlands. But why stop when you’re on a winning streak?
“So, we will be going to Timaru for round two now.
“We will take it round by round. And who knows? Maybe we might do all four rounds. Though I will have to take Will out of the car for one of those races because it clashes with Formula Ford.”
The second round of the South Island Endurance Series in Timaru is on October 15-16.