SsangYong Utes
Saturday, Jun 8 06:45pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Foster/Reid win Three Hour but Smith/De Veth win the title

As the saying goes; to finish first, you must first finish. Glenn Smith and John De Veth may not have won every race, but the ensured they were there at the checkered flag.


Having scored the runner-up spot in the opening round of the series at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park in Taupo, a title challenge looked unlikely for the pair. Rival pairing Neil Foster and Jonny Reid looked unbeatable in their tapped Audi R8 LMS GT3. However, their fortunes soon changed.


Round two of the title race at Pukekohe Park saw Smith and De Veth claim their first win of the season in their McLaren 650S GT3 after their Audi rivals failed to make the start of the race.


With a second place and a win in the bag all they needed to do was finish the final. And that they did to bring home their first championship together.


“A win in the series is really good,” Smith said.


“I don’t think anyone was going to catch Jonny Reid in the wet. It was phenomenal. I just had to watch him keep coming past me.


“We had wet tyres on, as soon as it dried out we lost pace. They did hang in there the whole way through. I’m rapt with the car. It didn’t miss a beat. It was perfect.


“You had to be cautious around lapped traffic and not go for a gap you’d normally poke it in. Connal caught me when I was struggling on tyres so I thought I’d let him go. It wasn’t worth fighting. But as soon as it rained he started struggling.”


De Vety said: “Oh it’s awesome, I loved it.


“We put slicks on at the end and it was just beautiful. It’s just an awesome car.”


The three-hour final at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park was a well and truly wet affair. From the outset the conditions proved tricky with the safety car called out on lap one after Paul Kelly spun the car he was sharing with Anthony Leighs down at the Turn 5 hairpin.


With a smaller 22-car field for the race there weren’t many safety car periods throughout the race. From the outset Reid established a handy lead while Smith fought to keep Connal Dempsey behind in his modified Porsche 911 GT3 Cup MR. The pair swapped positions as the conditions changed, but ultimately Smith got the better of him and cemented second.


Warwick and Andre Mortimer fell foul to the tricky conditions. The BMW E46 they were driving suffered a big hit out of the Turn 4 hairpin, which stoved in the right front corner.


Nick Ross and Paul Radisich were contenders throughout the race for Class 1 honours but their day came to an end late in the race. Mechanical woes meant they lose drive.


A late race incident with half an hour to go caused the most concern when the Noel Anderson/Trevor Strong Honda Civic Type R clattered into the right rear of the Dempsey/Penny car. The ambulance was briefly brought out onto the circuit but both drivers were uninjured.


With a five-minute dash for the flag Foster and Reid came home a lap ahead of the field. Smith and De Veth claimed second while the Udy/Udy driven Audi R8 LMS GT3 claimed third in an all-GT3 podium.


GT-B class honours went to Jono Lester/Matt Dovey in the Hyundai i45 V8 SuperTourer who claimed fourth overall. In fifth was the leading Class 2 car led by Gene Rollinson and Jordan Michels. They were also first of the TCR cars with their Hyundai i30 N TCR.


John McIntyre and Matt Penney were sixth in the Honda Civic Type R FK1 TCR. Seventh and top of Class 1 was Shane Helms and Rob Bolland in their Audi TT RS VLN.


Rob Williams claimed eighth and second in the GT-B class. Kent Baigent and Ben MacDonald were third in GT-B in the leading GT4 entry, their BMW M4.


Rounding out the top 10 was Wayne Leach and Paul Burborough in their BMW 235i Cup car.