The opening round of the 2019 Carter’s Tyre Service South Island Endurance Series served up a great day of action at Teretonga Park in Invercargill on Saturday.
Featuring a 1 Hour and 3 Hour race both were eventful and provided their share of great racing.
The feature race, the 3 Hour event, saw Jonny Reid and Neil Foster of Rotorua win for the second year in succession in their Audi R8 LMS after starting from pole position.
The race featured some close racing at the front, particularly between the Reid/Foster car and the similar Audi R8 GT3 Evo of Dale Chapman (Lincoln)/Marc Doran (Queenstown)/Andrew Waite (Cromwell) plus the Aston Martin GT3 of Cromwell based duo Tony Quinn and Damon Leitch.
The race was punctuated by several safety car periods and a red flag after many incidents around the track. Several cars fell foul of the infamous turn one loop while the Porsche 991 GT3 R of Scott O’Donnell and Allan Dippie suffered major damage when it went off at the exit of the corner. Other frontrunners to strike trouble included the Porsche GT3 R of George McFarlane/Jack Milligan, the BMW Z4 GT3 of Marco Schelp/Matt Hamilton which had a fiery engine blow up while the Quinn/Leitch Aston Martin succumbed to a blown gearbox.
Reid and Foster covered 164 laps, setting a new lap record of 55.135 seconds along the way, and took the win by 44.259 seconds from Chapman/Doran/Waite with Cantabrians Paul Kelly and Anthony Leighs in third (Porsche) with Ben Byers (Rolleston) and Christina Orr-West (Whakatane) fourth in an Audi.
The 1 Hour race earlier in the day was also an action-packed affair. The drama actually began on Friday when last year’s winner Chris Henderson of Dunedin had a spectacular roll over in practice, his V8 powered Toyota rolling several times. Henderson was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure and was out of the race.
Johnny/Chris Small of Timaru won the race in their Porsche 997 GT3 Cup car from Scott O’Donnell (Invercargill) and Allan Dippie (Dunedin) in a GT3 Cup S 991 with Danny Whiting of Christchurch third in a 991 Gen II GT3 Cup car. Jarrod Owens of West Melton in a GT3 Cup S was fourth having led until within sight of the chequered flag when he left the track at the hairpin. He did however have the consolation of setting a new lap record with a time 58.364 seconds. The Angus McFarlane/Michael Bushell Porsche retired during the race.
Southlander Jordan Michels finished a fine seventh overall and first in Class B in his new Honda Fk7 TCR car.
The next race meeting at Teretonga Park takes place on Saturday 12 October.