Marco Schelp has claimed his second successive win in the Carters Tyres South Island Endurance Series with an emphatic lights-to-flag drive in the final race at Levels Raceway.
Meanwhile, fifth overall was enough for Martin Dippie to edge out Ben and Garry Derrick for the overall championship. The two entries came into the round level on 176-points each, with Dippie claming the spoils in a race where traffic navigation determined who ruled the roost.
“It has been three great races and it is all about strategy isn’t it,” said Dippie. I was a little bit relived this morning when the Derrick entry spun which gave me a little bit of breathing space. But I have really enjoyed it this year, it has been a great series.”
Schelp set the tone in the morning’s 30-minute qualifying session. The only driver to crack the 1.01 barrier, the ex-pat German ace put his Porsche Cup car eight-tenths clear of the field as he romped to pole position.
From there, traffic was the only nemesis Schelp had to deal with as he swiftly built out a steady margin before making his only pitstop late in the race. The gap between himself and the second-placed Collins Motorsport Mustang of Sam Collins was just over 20 seconds at the chequered flag.
“It was a cool race, really cool,” said Schelp.
“But there was quite a bit of traffic. I estimated over the radio how many cars I overtook, and it must have been about 400-500 maybe. But it was really fun and everyone was racing cleanly.”
From pole, Schelp established a comfortable margin over the challenging pack. Martin Dippie and Chris Henderson squabbled over the final podium positions, but both were powerless up against the superior horsepower of Collins ex Nascar V8-engined Mustang bodied sports sedan.
Starting seventh, Collins had scythed his way to third by the end of Lap Four, separated by roughly ten seconds, the margin between Schelp and Collins ebbed and flowed as the pit window opened after the opening ten laps.
However, Collins’ race rapidly unfolded when he got loose on Lap 24 along the back straight, spinning back across the circuit before regathering himself on the outfield.
The incident didn’t cost Collins a spot but he did drop over a lap behind Schelp before the German made his sole pitstop on Lap 40.
The deficit was over 50 seconds but a collision between the Horne/Horne Holden SuperTourer entry and the Danny Whiting Gen-2 Porsche 991 resulted in the race’s first and only safety car intervention.
With lapped traffic to protect his advantage over Collins, Schelp sauntered home for the final two laps after the restart to clinch his second win of the series. He also keeps his 100% winning record in New Zealand for 2020.
Collins made amends for his early race spin to come home in second, claiming victory in Class C along the way. Chris Henderson was third overall on the debut of his Toyota 86 GT despite a small electric scare which threatened to end his race.
“It just shut off coming into [Turn 1]. So we hit control-alt-delete and got it back online and carried on.
“But just to finish was a win! We did 50 laps on these old tyres yesterday and left them on for today. We rolled in with this car on Thursday night about 6 pm and it has just been a mammoth effort by the guys to get us here.”
An interesting development was unfolding in Class B, the un-official TCR class which saw the Team Williams Honda of Jordan Michels qualify on pole. However, despite an ultra quick early pitstop, just a few laps later over heating issue’s saw Michels having to short-shift his cars engine in what was ultimately a vain attempt to bring the water temperature back down before finally having to stop a second time in order to attempt to rectify the growing over heating issue. In the end it was to no avail and the car was retired with some 20 minutes remaining. Michels retirement handed the Class B win to Christchurch’s Dennis Chapman.
Class A (0-2000cc) was won convincingly by Daniel Cropp in the Honda Civic. Third in class for the Gibson and Booth Honda Civic was enough for the duo to claim the championship in class.