Neil Foster and Jonny Reid have gone from facing the wrong direction at Turn 1 to victory three hours later in the final round of the Carters Tyres South Island Endurance Series at Levels Raceway in Timaru.
The duo were engaged in a heated race-long tussle with the Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Alex Riberas and Darren Kelly. The two rivals traded lap records as they shared time at the head of the queue.
Ultimately, the final race result would only be determined in the final twenty minutes following a hefty crash for John McIntyre in the JMR Gilbertson Camaro.
The Camaro was en route for a podium result but instead ended up buried in the barriers at Turn 4.
The safety car was immediately deployed as race officials addressed the situation. Fortunately, McIntyre was seen exiting the car but it would take some 20 minutes before the race was resumed again.
“As we were going up the back straight we had the Aston Martin GT4 ahead and another car. I the thought I had enough room to get by but as I have gone up the inside I think he hasn’t seen me. It wouldn’t be intentional”
“It is very hard at that speed. It is all happening very quickly and we were committed [to the move] and going probably 20-30km/hr faster, so a real shame.”
The full course caution saw Riberas dive in for a splash and dash, relinquishing the lead back in the process to the Foster/Reid car who ambled along behind the safety car.
Once the McIntyre accident was cleared, the two contenders then proceeded to duke it out for the victory. But while chasing down the Audi, Riberas ran off the road at Turn 4, falling over 20 seconds behind the leaders, eventually settling for second best.
Nonetheless, two wins and second place finishes this season crowns Kelly and Riberas as the 2020 South Island Endurance three-hour champions; an accomplishment both were overjoyed to have achieved.
“The overall result was awesome for us today,” Kelly said. “For both of us in our first season it is just an awesome result.
“Stoked with second today. Alex drove amazingly well, and it was tough out there, it is a really challenging track to get around and there is a lot of traffic. But stoked with the end result.”
“We were going for the win today, but very happy and so proud of the team for clinching the title. In our first time to win, I think nobody at the Heart of Racing expected that,” added Riberas.
For the race winning Foster, it could well have been a very different tale to tell after surviving a Turn 1 collision with Kelly. Car owner Neil Foster moved across into the path of the Heart of Racing Aston Martin on the dash to Turn 1, thinking that he had cleared the Aston, but unfortunately for Foster he came off second best, with the two made front-to-rearcontact with the Audi spearing off the circuit, dropping a handful of positions as Kelly powered on carrying only superficial bodywork damage.
Kelly seized the advantage of the situation to bolt away from newly promoted second-place Camaro of Simon Gilberston, but they had their arms full with the Audi R8 of Scott O’Donnell in the Track Tec machine, before losing another spot to the older-generation Dayle ITM Racing R8 of Christina Orr-West and Brendon Leitch.
The race then ran comparatively cleanly for the next two hours, the older Dayle ITM Audi unable to match the pace of O’Donnell in the latest spec Audi R8 GT3 car that has in excess of 50 BHP advantage over the Dayle ITM Audi, of Orr West. Orr west and Brendon Leach eventually took the chequered flag only 11-seconds adrift, with Waite fending off a very determined Leitch for the final podium spot.
A favourite in the TCR class, Jordan Michels and Hayden Paddon spent the first half-an-hour cycling the pitlane as the attempted to resolve a fuel sensor issue that was playing havoc with the Hyundai’s electronics. Consequently, they dropped several laps on class leaders Rowan Shepherd and Lochlainn Fitzgerald-Symes.
Shepherd and Fitzgerald-Symes were then able to run an untroubled race to clinch top honours in Class B, four laps ahead of the Driver/Hood VW Golf GTi TCR.
Class D was claimed by the Porsche 911 Cup car of Anthony Leighs and Paul Kelly. The pair finished twenty seconds ahead of Martin and Allan Dippie who only hours earlier was crowned this year’s one-hour series champion.
Cameron Davies and Flyn Mitchell dominated a depleted two-car Class C in their Mazda RX8. While class A was won by Terence and Darryl Phillips in the Honda Civic.