Defending Champion Retains ASKO 3 Hour Title
Defending Champion Retains ASKO 3 Hour Title As Carter and Van Gisbergen Take Final Round
Defending champion Paul Kelly of Christchurch retained his ASKO Appliances 3 Hour Series title after a few nervous moments at the final round of the series at Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell on Saturday. Kelly, with Melbourne based kiwi co-driver Daniel Gaunt sharing the duties at Cromwell, went into the finale with the series lead but an accident during the race required a lengthy pitstop before the car resumed to finish twenty-fourth after losing a lot of time as mechanics replaced an upright.
Dwayne Carter of Auckland along with kiwi Australian V8 Supercar star Shane Van Gisbergen won the race in the Carter family Falcon V8 Supercar, six seconds ahead of Andrew Bagnall (Auckland)/Anthony Pedersen (Hamilton) in a Porsche 997 GT3 with Simon Ellingham (Napier)/John McIntyre (Nelson) third in another 997 GT3.
Carter and Van Gisbergen had qualified on pole position but encountered problems early on, dropping down the order and piitting early. The Ellingham/McIntyre Porsche held the early lead but lost ground on lap 23 allowing the Rick Armstrong/Matthew Hamilton Porsche into the lead at around the 3/4 hour mark. Initially Armstrong/Hamilton led from Angus McFarlane/Michael Bushell of Christchurch in their Porsche GT3R and Kelly/Gaunt but soon after Kelly hit the wall in the GT3 and was forced to pit to replace a suspension upright, Gaunt resuming after a lengthy delay. At the end of the first hour the Porsche GT3 of Armstrong of Christchurch and Hamilton led from McFarlane/Bushell, 1 Hour race winner George McFarlane/Grant Silvester of Christchurch in another GT3 with Allan Dippie (Dunedin)/Scott O'Donnell (Invercargill) in fourth in their GT3 Cup S. The order stayed that way until a safety car period at around half distance when the Class 2 leading turbocharged Toyota of Patrick and Ryan Heagney of Blenheim stopped on the track.
After racing resumed the Bagnall/Pedersen Porsche climbed into third place while at the two hour mark the Carter/Van Gisbergen car had ominously clawed it's way back up to fourth place. The final 40 minutes saw the Falcon make it's way into the lead with Bagnall/Pedersen and Ellingham/McIntyre making their way through to second and third respectively. Armstrong/Hamilton dropped back to fourth at the line followed by McFarlane/Bushell, McFarlane/Silvester, Dippie/O'Donnell with John De Veth/Phil Hood in yet another Porsche eighth.
Carter and Van Gisbergen won the GT Class by virtue of their victory from Bagnall/Pedersen and Ellingham/McIntyre while Christchurch pair Paul Rickerby/Graeme Rhodes in their Mazda RX7 V8 were the first Class 1 car home in ninth place overall, making a clean sweep of the class for the series with Clark and Steven Kirk-Burnarnd eleventh overall and second in the class with Warwick/Andre Mortimer third in class and fourteenth overall.
Class 2 was led home for this round by Malcolm Niall of Perth and Aaron Harris in tenth overall in their Seat Leon Supercopa, one place ahead of Andrew Simms(Auckland) and Chris West (Timaru) in their EVO 9 with Kevin Gallichan/Sam Fillmore third in class, thirteenth overall in another Seat. Grant Aitken of Queenstown was the first Class 3/4 car home in fifteenth ahead of Paul Coghill/David Hunter of Dunedin in their Honda Civic Type R and Tim Stanton/Michael Fitzpatrick in a Peugeot 106 Clubsport.
Kelly, the overall series champion, was awarded the ‘South Canterbury Toyota Cup’ at the prizegiving on Saturday evening. Thanks to Series sponsor ASKO Appliances as well as Mobil 1, Paul Kelly Motor Company, Hagley Aluminium & Southern Finance Ltd, the series featured a prizemoney pool of $30,000. Full points standings will be available in the next few days.
For information on the South Island Endurance Series, entries, or to be added to the South Island Endurance Racing Drivers Club’s e-mailing list, please contact Chris Dunn via e-mail at email@example.com Club information can also be found on facebook at www.facebook.com/sierdc, and for more information on the series sponsor ASKO, please visit www.asko.co.nz.