Jonny Reid and Sam Fillmore (Audi R8 GT3) have cemented their place at the top of the South Island Endurance Series 3-Hour championship at Levels Raceway in Timaru after securing their third win in as many races.
Reid brought the race home 38.4 seconds ahead of Bill Riding (Audi R8 GT3), with Glenn Smith and John De Veth (McLaren 650S) rounding out the podium places.
Steve Brooks and Riding had qualified on pole for the race as the only competitors to go under the one-minute mark. Fillmore secured a front-row start for the newly-crowned 2023 New Zealand Endurance champions, with the Hayden Knighton and Kane Lawson pairing (Mercedes AMG GT3) and Paul Rickerby and Graeme Rhodes on the second row.
Smith and De Veth failed to set a competitive time in qualifying and started from the rear of the 13-car grid.
Brooks would lead the field to green, keeping Fillmore at bay over the opening stages and building a slight gap. Fillmore would eat into this before the hour mark, resulting in a battle for the lead that lasted over 15 laps.
The fight up front brought Knighton into the equation, and he would benefit when Fillmore nudged Brooks into a spin just after the hour mark. Despite slowing and taking to the grass to avoid the Audi, he would take the lead as Fillmore came in to serve a drive-through penalty for the contact.
Brooks returned to proceedings in third, with Smith working from the rear of the field to sit fourth after an early charge, nearly a lap behind.
Knighton handed the lead over to Lawson just before the halfway mark, while Riding took over from Brooks and Reid took over from Fillmore at the same point.
Reid quickly moved into second place, eventually taking the lead off Lawson on the 100-minute mark and beginning to pull clear.
The race’s sole Safety Car would come just after the two-hour mark when Lawson, who was running second, and Heremana Malmezac (Porsche GT3R 991.2) came together while the latter was being put a lap down.
Both cars were forced from the race, with the Mercedes able to limp to the lane but the Porsche requiring removal from the outfield.
Reid pulled clear of Riding off the restart and would continue to increase the gap on the way to the chequered flag. Riding was the only other driver on the lead lap, with De Veth and Smith coming home in third a lap off the pace.
Martin Dippie and New Zealand racing icon Greg Murphy (Porsche GT3 Cup 992) were the first of the Class 2 cars home in fourth overall, one spot ahead of title rivals Matt Spratt and Hugh Gardiner (Porsche GT3 Cup 991.2). The result was enough to see Dippie crowned SIERDC 3-Hour Class 2 champion.
Rickerby and Rhodes turned a solid qualifying performance into a good result, finishing in sixth, ahead of Scott O’Donnell and Allan Dippie (Porsche GT3 Cup 992).
Christina Orr-West and Bree Morris were the first of the Class 3 cars home in eighth overall, as the final pairing to complete all three hours. The result sees the duo secure the Class 3 title.
Grant Moore and Matthew Moore (Toyota Altezza) won the Class 4 title, completing 101 laps in just over two hours before retiring from the race.
Thomas Mallard and Peter Vodanovich (Toyota 86) were not present at the event but secured the Cass 5 title based on their strong performance at Ruapuna.
Header Image: SIERDC