Luke Manson has driven a superb race to claim victory in the 1-Hour of the Golden Homes North Island Endurance Series at Hampton Downs.
A fierce battle for second saw just .005 second separating Shaun Varney (BMW 318i) Nick Chester (Marc GT), the duo locked in a thrilling drag to the line.
Ultimately, it was Varney who held on for the spot, a well-deserved reward following an excellent drive.
For Chester, third was also hard-fought, the new Marc GT clawing into the gap from Varney ahead in the dying stages, falling agonizingly short of second.
The best of the Class 4 & 5 competitors was the pairing of Ayrton Hodson and Brett Sullivan, who drove a superb race in a Z4 M Coupe. They finished 11th overall, dropping out of the top 10 in the dying stages.
It wasn’t to be for the pole-sitting #910 Porsche 991.2 Cup MR of Heremana Malmezac or their sister #909 car; both Porsches had difficulty at various stages throughout the race.
Both cars, however, were extremely quick in the opening stint and had looked likely for a strong result. Even after early incidents, they were able to power back through towards the front, pressuring Manson before eventually falling back.
A late off for the #909 saw it sustain damage to the right rear, eventually forced to retire, while the #910 became stranded off-track on the final corner late on, needing a tow out to return four laps down to finish thirteenth.
Adam Julian (Porsche 997-2) should be commended for his drive to fourth overall, dropping to the back of the field early on following an off before charging forward for the remainder of the race to come home just 2.5 seconds shy of the podium.
He was just ahead of Nick Ross, the iconic #007 Nissan Altima running clean to pull clear for a lonely fifth.
Clay Osborne (BMW M2) was another driver who kept it clean in the tricky conditions, coming home in sixth as the last car on the lead lap.
The exception Highlands Porsche GT4RS, driven by Grant Aitken, finished sixth, while Sam Cotterill (Mercedes-Benz GT4), Martin Neill (Porsche 991.2 GT3 Cup) and Russell McKenzie (Porsche 991 GT3 Cup) rounded out the top 10.
Scott Smith was superb behind the wheel of the Seat Leon, coming home in twelfth, with Chris Wall and Layton Hammond pairing up to deliver a tidy performance in their Honda Civic to Class 5 honours in fourteenth.
Cormac Murphy (Toyota 86) was also extremely tidy, improving lap-after-lap to come home fifteenth.
The Raymond Mallin and Daniel Connor-shared Honda Integra rounded out classifications with three non-finishers.
The Wolfbrook Porsche of Steve Brook and Bill Riding didn’t make the start following an accident in practice when the hydroplaned over the wet surface.
Image: Neville Bailey