Alexandra Whitley reviews her racing in the SsangYong Racing 3 Hour Endurance Championship at Pukekohe over the weekend…..
It was the maiden SsangYong Endurance championship Saturday the 6th of May at Pukekohe Park Raceway. Almost the whole field teaming up with co-drivers I completed the gruelling 3 hours on my own.
The sun was shining, the track was fast and the competition was hot! Being the only driver to achieve the podium in both races was a fantastic accolade.
My weekend started a month ago at our last round and we found out we were going to do a SsangYong endurance race. Working closely with Alastair from Formula Fit and a nutritionist whom I met through the New Zealand Elite Motorsport academy were definitely all factors in getting me over the line and on the podium. And also my new sponsor Anytime Fitness Takanini, I have been training extremely hard to get myself ‘endurance fit” in the short amount of time we had.
Our races were split into two as this was the maximum single driver time allowed. Pulling 10th position in the marble draw was a great starting position; all I had to do was keep it clean and consistent and push hard until the end. I was moving forward through the field and then 2 cars headed into turn one weren’t going to go and I veered too far left, hit the marbles and as I came back online I hit another competitor and completely spun out.
Having a spin so early on meant I had a big challenge ahead. I dropped back to about 15th and started the slow climb forward. Our pit window was almost over so I headed in, having a lightning pit stop I came out on track in first place. I drove the wheels off my Waikato SsangYong ute until the flag dropped and finished third.
Race two was a complete reverse grid which meant I was now placed 24th from 26. The race stopped as quick as it started having a red flag in the first lap. We were soon back underway and I started the charge forward.
The car was hot and my own sweat was dripping into my eyes, but that wasn’t going to stop me as I pushed my ute to its limits. Another blistering pit stop helped me to jump a few places up the ladder. I crossed the line in third place making me the only driver to finish both races on the podium. I was really able to put into practice and see how far I’ve come since the academy, the races today tested both my mental and physical abilities as we don’t have cool suits and prove that I’m willing to do what it takes.
Due to a post-race change of rules that saw the last race be awarded double points I finished second overall instead of the overall win. However this is a fantastic result and was the icing on the cake to my hard work thought the year and lead up to this event. As always this wouldn’t be possible without the people who help and work behind the scenes. Especially Gary Pederson and Cameron Rydon who got me over the line this weekend.