The ever-calm John Midgley was all smiles after the first round of the North Island Endurance Series where he walked away with second overall in the one-hour race.
Midgley hopped into his Ford Falcon SuperTourer for the first time in several months over the weekend at Pukekohe.
Placing himself on the front row of the grid in qualifying, Midgley then resisted a late charge by Anthony Leighs in an Audi R8 GT3 to secure the second step on the podium.
“There were some unknowns heading into practice on Saturday,” Midgley told Velocity News.
“I hadn’t driven the car since October last year. So, I was a bit green.
“There were some minor set-up changes done since then. But the car was essentially the same as what it was the last time I drove it.”
Qualifying was held on late Saturday afternoon, with the cool, dry track conditions the best the drivers had experienced all day.
Midgley put in a stonking personal best lap, but even he says there was still lots of room for improvement.
“Practice felt good,” he said. “I was quickly back on terms with the car.
“Then I chucked on a set of greens in qualifying and went half a second quicker than I had gone before.
“Though I was left a bit frustrated with the lap. Watching it back, I was like a nana going over the hill and left quite a bit on the table.”
While practice and qualifying were mainly in the dry, Sunday’s race began on a damp circuit.
Midgley now had to decide on whether to start on the wet tyre or risk it out on the slicks in hope the track dried quickly.
With the SuperTourer having five stud tyres, Midgley opted to start on the wet tyres with the intention of preserving their life over the race.
In the race, Midgley lost an early position to John McIntyre in the other Ford SuperTourer. However, he regained the spot following the pitstop phase.
He then had to grapple with a small comms drama before dealing with a hard-charging Leighs in the Audi.
“I had lost my radio at the pitstop. The wire had somehow fallen out of my helmet.
“So, I wasn’t too sure who was behind me and where.
“But when I looked in my mirrors and saw the Audi catching me, I thought it must be for position.
“He then only really caught me on the final lap. All I had to do was get a clean run onto the back straight and then make myself reasonably wide.
“I think the margin between us looked closer on TV than what it actually was.”
The next round of the Golden Homes North Island Endurance Series is at Hampton Downs on May 28-29.
Main Image: Matt Smith