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Unlikely Duo Win 3 Hour Endurance Race at Teretonga Park

A Spaniard having his first race in New Zealand and a former D1NZ Drift Champion having his first ever motor race won the 3 Hour race at the opening round of the South Island Endurance Series at Teretonga Park in Invercargill on Saturday.

Spaniard, Alex Riberas, who found himself stranded in New Zealand earlier this year and former drift champ Darren Kelly of the Waikato combined to win the 3 Hour race by a mere .574 of a second after 186 laps of racing in their Aston Martin Vantage GT3.

The winners of the race for the past two years’, Neil Foster and former New Zealand A1GP driver Jonny Reid, led for much of the race in their Audi R8 LMS but an issue at their last pitstop meant Reid had to chase hard over the last half hour of the race falling just short in an enthralling finish.

Neil Foster and Jonny Reid’s, Audi R8 LMS

Third was local driver Brendon Leitch and Christina Orr-West of Whakatane in another Audi after a race that saw Orr-West take the first stint which was interrupted by an unscheduled pit stop for a tyre issue while Leitch ran out of petrol at the pit entry late in the race and had to be pushed along pitlane to be refuelled. Those issues left them 5 laps down at the end.

The other major player in the race, the Simon Gilbertson/John McIntyre Camaro had niggling dramas all day in Friday testing, the team doing a 12-hour stint until 4am on race day to ready the car. They set their best ever qualifying time at Teretonga Park in qualifying only to be penalised after an ABS fault sent the car off the track bringing a red flag and dropping them three places on the grid.

Gilbertson ran third initially and McIntyre maintained position, putting plenty of pressure on the Aston Martin before “zero set up time on Friday meant the tyres went away and faded. Near the end of the race a small oil leak appeared which led to an electrical misfire. It could have been cleaned up but with the risk of fire the car was put away,” said McIntyre after the race.

Simon Gilbertson/John McIntyre’s Camaro

Kelly was elated after the race. “It was a very good day. The Safety Car (just after the first hour mark) was perfect for us for a driver change and managing fuel.

Alex did a double stint and loved the track but it was narrower than what he is used to. The Audi had a pit stop issue at their last stop and we got a buffer but it is a very fast car. We were down on straight line speed in comparison. Towards the end the two cars were very even with tyre wear and the last ten laps were very close. Alex did an amazing job, there was just half a second in it after three hours of racing.”

Earlier in the day Sam Collins and Nick Ross of Cambridge won the 1 Hour race in their Ford Mustang. The duo led virtually all the way, only losing the lead briefly when they took their pitstop.

The Collins/Ross Mustang followed by Martin Dippie in his Porsche 991 GT3 with Ben & Garry Derrick Porsche 991 GT3 close behind & Bruce Davidson’s of Corvette at the rear.

A cracked front brake rotor was found on the Mustang thirty minutes before the start of the race and new rotors were fitted but the team had no time to bed them in. Team Manager, Paul Collins, said the Mustang, “had a slight electrical gremlin in the accelerator but they were able to drive around it and they aimed for consistency throughout the race.”

The Collins/Ross Mustang crossed the line as the hour ticked over having covered 56 laps with Martin Dippie of Dunedin second in his Porsche 991 GT3 Cup Car twenty-nine seconds behind after a good battle with the Ben & Garry Derrick Porsche 991 GT3 which was third just 1.5 seconds behind. Bruce Davidson of Alexandra (Corvette) was fourth, Russell McKenzie of Christchurch (Porsche 991 GT3 Cup) fifth and Jordan Michels of Invercargill rounded out the top six in his Honda Civic TCR Fk7, taking Class B honours.

The Southland Sports Car Club was rapt to be able to host spectators at the event after a late ruling on Friday afternoon allowed it. Despite the short notice a good crowd was in attendance to enjoy the action.

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