It was a four minute dash to the line at the end of the South Island Endurance Series Class 4 & 5 One Hour at Teretonga yesterday, James Penrose claiming the victory after a post-race penalty was awarded leader Warren Black.
Scott O’Donnell who was promoted to second as a result of Black’s penalty for a restart infringement in the final five minutes. Despite the penalty, the Audi RS3 TCR of Black was able to hold on to a podium in third.
Penrose, in an Audi LMS TCR, had started at the front of the field alongside the Toyota 86 of Andre Simon and held on to second from the start after a great getaway from Simon.
The pace of Penrose’s Audi was evident as he quickly hunted down the Toyota, taking the lead at the end of the main straight at the start of the second lap.
O’Donnell followed through past Simon in the same place the very next lap, Cole Askew also following to make it into third.
The field set into its rhythm with battle packs throughout the circuit, only a few minor incidents early including a spin for the RX8 of Cory Stewart and Simon struggling for pace with mechanical difficulties and forcing to withdraw.
Penrose quickly built a lead of four seconds over O’Donnell by Lap 8, Askew able to make a move on the latter for second place at the same point.
This changed when a safety car intervention was required after 15 minutes for the stricken RX8 of Kristopher Mackie, the majority of the field coming for in their compulsory stop.
Penrose, O’Donnell and Black all went into the lane whilst Askew remained out in the effective lead of the race.
The restart saw Askew pull away from Penrose whilst Black worked his way to third over O’Donnell at the hairpin.
Black then worked his way into second after Penrose went wide exiting the hairpin passing lapped traffic.
It was a period of misfortune for Penrose, who was awarded a drive-through penalty after passing under the earlier safety car, emerging down in fifth behind the BMW M3 E46 Coupe of Russell McKenzie.
Black took the lead after the halfway point and built an eight second lead over the not-yet-stopped Askew, O’Donnell 11 seconds off the lead at this point and Penrose, having moved past McKenzie, in fourth 25 seconds off top spot.
Now up to third, Penrose went about putting in solid lap times to make ground on the leads. Things worked in his favor when a late safety car brought the field back together, effectively creating a 4 minute dash for the line.
Lapped traffic separated the leading three cars of Black, O’Donnell and Penrose for the restart, but this proved no issue for the latter who went on to catch and pressure O’Donnell before getting the move done with two minutes remaining for second on the track.
Reports emerged, however, that Black had breached safety car regulation and jumped too early with the investigation set to conclude post-race.
The Audi went on to claim honours ahead of Penrose and O’Donnell, yet was penalised for the breach following the investigation after the race, gifting Penrose the win.
Images: Neville Bailey