Jonny Reid and Neil Foster are national endurance champions once again. Reid exploded away after a late safety car, sauntering to the chequered flag at the end of the three-hour affair.
“I had so much fun today,” Reid said. “It was a big one for Neil and me, being out of the car for nine months. To come back and take a win, we are very, very pleased.”
It wasn’t the smoothest of build-ups to the race. The No.22 Audi R8 needed a gearbox change earlier in the week.
Then, in the race, the car battled some tyre issues during the first stint. But, ultimately, their sheer speed was enough to see them home in first.
It is Reid and Foster’s third national title together.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Foster said.
While Reid blitzed up the road after the safety car, Andrew Waite had difficulty getting past a stubborn Daniel Gaunt for third.
Gaunt kept the second Audi R8 at bay for most of the run home, only losing the position when he got held up behind a lapped car.
With Gaunt stuck behind the DFM Audi A5, Waite snuck up the inside of the pair to snatch second.
“I was trying to bid my time,” he said. “I knew we had the pace, but Dan was not making it easy for me. So, I just let the tyres recover for a little bit, have another crack and then we just got lucky with the Audi.”
Waite eventually built a ten second lead over the Gaunt/Andrew Fawcet McLaren. The latter came under some late pressure by the Pederson/Pederson Mercedes but clung on for the podium finish.
“We had great pace, but we just couldn’t hold onto the tyre in the end there,” Gaunt said.
The McLaren didn’t take new tyres for the final stint, whereas both Audis did.
Behind the Pederson Mercedes, Anthony Leighs and John McIntyre recovered from an early race spin to finish fifth overall in the Nissan GT-R.
Polesitter Greg Murphy and co-driver Shane Helms were sixth on the road, two laps down.
Murphy was the only Pro driver to start the race. He built out a 30-second lead before the first safety car was deployed.
That upset the Renault R.S 01’s strategy. Their race was further compounded by a slow pitstop and they found themselves on the backfoot most of the day.
Rhys Gould spun on his own in his first stint. He buried the No.5 Nissan GT-R in the sand and needed to be dragged back onto the circuit by the recovery crew.
He and co-driver Gene Rollinson recovered to finish seventh, four laps off the leaders.
The only GT3 car not to finish was the Lance Hughes/Chris van der Drift Lamborghini. The team experienced mechanical issues, seeing them park themselves up in the garage at least twice.
As for the other class winners, Steve Brooks and Bill Riding won the GT B title, while Stephen Harrison and Aaron Slight dominated the GT C class, winning by two laps.
*Only those classified as finishers
Images: Matt Smith