Clay Osborne took the Open Class win in a thrilling display in the one-hour race of the Summerset GT New Zealand Championship at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon on Saturday, while Brock Gilchrist took a commanding win in GT4.
The Mercedes AMG GT2 of Paul Pedersen started off the pole with Osborne alongside in his Porsche 991, with the sister AMG GT2 of Joel Giddy behind in third.
In GT4, it was the McLaren of Brock Gilchrist starting at the front of the class from James Sax in an AMG GT4, and the BMW GT4 of Garth Piesse.
Off the start, Pedersen held the lead, with Giddy slipping by Osborne to take second place.
On the start of lap two, Luke Manson went wide in his Porsche 992, dropping a handful of spots once he’d re-joined back onto the track. In GT4, Gilchrist led from Sax and the Ginetta of Allan Sargeant.
Lap six saw a change of position up the front, with Osborne passing Giddy for second place.
With the field settling into a rhythm, the pit-stop window opened, and the front runners of Pedersen, Giddy, Filmore, and Manson dived in within a couple of laps of each other.
With the pitstop cycles complete, Pedersen found himself back in the lead, with Giddy second and a fast-charging Osborne in third.
With the tyres on the AMG’s starting to wear, Osborne took advantage and quickly applied pressure to the bumper of the Giddy Mercedes. The pair then engaged in a position-changing battle for the coming laps before Osborne managed to slip by and went in pursuit of Pedersen.
Osborne caught the back of the green AMG of Pedersen and managed to get by at turn one, and from there, built a 4.5-second lead.
He pushed on, and with 5 minutes to go in the race, his 4.5-second lead evaporated when a safety car was called to recover the stricken BMW of Garth Piesse, which was in the gravel at turn one.
On the restart, Osborne made a good getaway and held off the AMG, who seemingly had run out of tyres over the long one-hour race.
With the chequered flag waved after an hour of racing, it was Osborne in first, with Pedersen second and the Porsche of Regan Scoullar third. Joel Giddy finished fourth, and Sam Fillmore fifth.
Celebrating his first win in the championship, Osborne was ecstatic.
“I was pushing pretty hard when I was behind the two AMGs trying to get in front of them. I didn’t think it was going to be possible at the start because of the power they had down the straight,” said Osborne post-race.
“But I picked my moment when I thought I could get past them. The moves worked, and from then on, I just focussed on building a lead.”
“I’ll have to be honest, I wasn’t entirely happy to see that. There may have been a few words said in my head! But, on the restart, I managed to get a good start and held on to win.
“Really happy to get the win, for my supporters and my family. My mum gets really nervous especially watching, she might have been more nervous than me!”
In GT4, Gilchrist was pleased to be able to not only avoid some of the carnage but also manage his tyres over the long one-hour race.
“Started off just trying and build a gap as we have a long pitstop time, also trying to look after the tyres and not work them too hard,” said Gilchrist.
“Towards the end, the tyre wear was getting up there, but I felt like I did a decent job at looking after them.”
“Then, after the safety car at the end, there was a bit of carnage with all the GT2 and 992 guys swamping me on the restart. But I managed to get out of the way and avoid it.”
The carnage Gilchrist was referring to was the three-car contact between International Motorsport teammates Luke Manson, Sam Filmore and Rick Armstrong.
Gilchrist was followed to the line in GT4 by the Ginetta of Allan Sargeant and the AMG of Sam Cotterill. Sax and Garth Piesse rounded out the top five.