A tight GT New Zealand race at Highlands has seen Paul Pedersen hold off a strong Luke Manson charge to take victory by less than a second.
The battle for third was just as hotly contested, Marco Giltrap flying through the second half of the race to pip Rick Armstrong for the final podium spot with a final lap pass.
Jono McFarlane was the quickest GT4 car on track once again, taking class honours and fifth overall ahead of Nigel Cromie who bounced back well from yesterday’s puncture. Todd Bawden rounded out the GT4 podium in seventh overall, Stephen Harrison unlucky to miss out by the narrowest of margins.
Heremana Malmezac was ninth overall, and fifth in open, whilst Francois Beziac rounded out the top 10.
A rolling start saw Giltrap pounce once again, a monster launch seeing him build quickly over the stunning array of GT machinery.
Armstrong also showed his form from yesterday had carried over, pipping Malmezac around the outside on the entry into the chicane.
Wayne Leach will be counting his blessings after his Lap 2 spin, dropping his wheel into the grass entering the final chicane and spinning through the turn and stopping just inches short of the wall.
A Safety Car followed to allow for retrieval of the beached Ferrari, the Highlands team quick in doing so to allow racing to resume with 20 minutes remaining.
Giltrap got away well from the restart as did Malmezac, who got through Armstrong to return to second place.
The two leaders were the first to box after 13 minutes to put Armstrong as the provisional leader over Luke Manson and Paul Pedersen.
A congested pit lane saw a tight battle for the exit, Allan Sargeant seen to be released in an unsafe manner into the path of a fast-reacting Cromie who did well to avoid major contact.
Armstrong followed the field a lap later for his stop for Manson to take the lead over none-other than Tony Quinn in his return to racing.
The handicapping system worked to great effect in the 30 minute race, creating a highly competitive event with the field in close proximity with work to do relative to car performance.
What transpired was nothing short of a spectacle, tight battles throughout the field with passes for position throughout the pack.
Pedersen had worked his way into the lead with eight minutes remaining, getting past GT4, and overall, leaders Todd Bawden and Nigel Cromie to take the overall lead.
Armstrong and Giltrap were also working their way forward in the pack, the former with a spectacular three-wide overtake to make two positions entering the bridge with five minutes to go.
Armstrong moved past Cromie to get to the podium as Giltrap started to build pressure on the leaders from behind with incredible pace.
Pedersen continued to lead well in the closing minutes with Manson hot on his tail, holding on to take the chequered flag.
Giltrap put in an incredible final lap to pip Armstrong for the final spot on the podium, the latter unlucky to miss out on silverware after a display of racing which is sure to impress his IndyCar driving son.
A massive shunt for the Wolfbrook Porsche, driven by Paul Southam, as time ran out left the car with major damage on-track right before the bridge.
Quinn was an impressive 12th overall just months after his accident, some 30 seconds off top spot.
GT New Zealand return for one final 30 minute race at 3.20 this afternoon.
Header Image: Paul Pedersen held off late challenges for the victory. Image: Shots By TayB