Saturday, Mar 24 11:56am
AUTHOR: Matthew Hansen

South beats North: Hodgson grabs nail-biting one-hour enduro crown

South Island campaigners Shane Hodgson and the Carter's Tyres Motorsport squad have won the ENEOS New Zealand Endurance Championship one-hour event in their Ford Falcon ex-V8 Supercar, after fending of a spirited drive from John DeVeth and Glenn Smith. 


The run to the flag was an exciting one, seeing Hodgson and DeVeth swap the lead on two occasions as they navigated traffic and safety-car restarts. 


“We got to where we needed to be, it wasn't an easy run but it pretty much went to plan,” said Hodgson.


“It's awesome to get the Carter's Falcon up the front here where it probably deserved to be. Down in the South Island we were plagued with issues and mechanicals; some my fault, some not my fault. I'm really stoked.”


Click here to watch the ENEOS New Zealand Endurance Championship live stream.


V8s dominated the starting order for the one-hour race; John Midgley, John DeVeth, and Shane Hodgson all in the top four with the one lonely Porsche of Ben Byers separating them in third place. Despite discussions of rain, the race kicked off in dry conditions.


Midgley took the lead off the start, with Smith and Hodgson in tow. The best start came from Matthew Griffin from the third row, diving on the inside with two wheels on the grass to take fourth. 


Smith lost second to Hodgson at the end of the back straight after making a brief mistake. Hodgson pressed on, and soon established a battle with Midgley at the front of the field. 


The move for the lead was made on lap three; Hodgson grabbing the lead on the back straight after overcoming Midgley's defence. As traffic began to be a factor for the leaders, Smith was able to also pass Midgley by the race's 10-minute mark.


By this point Hodgson held a huge lead. Smith and Midgley had their own dice still going for second, and Griffin, Byers, and Jarrod Owens were fourth to sixth. 


With 17 minutes gone, the Lotus Elise of Mark Meadows had a mechanical failure on the back straight — stopping on the grass out of harm's way. At the same time, Griffin became the first of the leaders to make their compulsory pit stop. 


Smith was the next leader to stop, doing so at the 30-minute mark. Byers did the same a few laps later. Hodgson had the race firmly in control by this point. The race continued to run smoothly, with a near-miss off in the grass for Gary Morrell and his Honda Integra at the final corner representing the only incident of mid-race.


This was until Bruce Kett went off at turn two; hitting the tyres front on with his ex-NZV8 Falcon and getting beached. This prompted the first safety car of the race, which was a free kick for Midgley and Hodgson. Moreso for the former, who was able to get his stop under way at an earlier point. 


The net result, with the lead order now purified, was Hodgson back in the lead with just one lapped car separating him with DeVeth in second place having registered a quicker time in his stint than the leader. Midgley was third, Owens was fourth  (a lap down), and Griffin was fifth. 


The race restarted with nine minutes to go; DeVeth immediately getting around the lapped car before grabbing onto the back of Hodgson's Falcon. He sat on the bumper of the Falcon, and then got a good run out of the hairpin and this helped him set up for a confident move at turn one on the inside. 


DeVeth immediately threw down the quickest time of the race; a 1:05.797. But the fight wasn't over as the minutes started to count down. Hodgson initially looked down and out, but fired back with four minutes left to go at turn three. 


Hurling the Falcon up the inside, the duo banged doors. And with DeVeth getting briefly sideways coming off the corner, Hodgson was able to snatch the lead. But like before, DeVeth was able to close back in on Hodgson as traffic once again was a factor, but Hodgson was able to hold on to win by a second. 


Midgley finished third, ahead of the Porsches of Owens and Byers. Griffin had been holding down fourth place, but a high-speed spin in turn one with the chequered flag in sight cost him two spots at the end. He crossed the line in sixth, as Jonas Paterson, Rick Cooper, Cameron McCormack, and Stuart Black completed the top 10. 


Results (top 10)


1. Shane Hodgson (Ford Falcon)  50 laps
2. Glenn Smith/John DeVeth (Holden Commodore)  +0.988
3. John Midgley (Ford Falcon)  +18.390
4. Jarrod Owens (Porsche 911)  +1 lap
5. Ben Byers (Porsche 911)  +1 lap
6. Matthew Griffin (BMW M3)  +1 lap
7. Jonas Paterson (Porsche 911(  +2 laps
8. Rick Cooper (Ford GT)  +2 laps
9. Cameron McCormack (Porsche 911)  +2 laps
10. Stuart Black (BMW M3)  +4 laps