Two exciting endurance races launched the 2017/2018 motor race season at Teretonga Park in Invercargill this weekend.
Series sponsors Matt & Dwayne Carter of Auckland won the feature race on Saturday, the opening round of the 2017 Carter’s Tyre Service South Island 3 Hour Endurance Series, in their Mercedes SLS AMG GT3.
They crossed the line just 29.654 seconds ahead of the Porsche of Allan Dippie (Dunedin)/Scott O’Donnell (Invercargill), both cars having completed 162 laps. Third was Paul Rickerby/Graeme Rhodes of Christchurch in a Ford V8 SuperTourer, 4 laps behind the leaders.
The Mercedes had led initially before the twin turbo Toyota of Scott/Craig McDermid of Blenheim had a brief stint in front. The Carter brothers were back in the lead when the first of three safety car interventions occurred but a light sprinkling of rain at the restart saw the Porsche of Christchurch duo Angus and George McFarlane take the lead, only to spin off shortly after.
When the Carter brothers’ took their pit stop, Dippie/O’Donnell took the lead and at one stage held a two lap margin. Dippie/O’Donnell still led after their own pit stop but the Mercedes reeled them in and despite a quick stop for fuel near the end maintained the lead to the flag.
The brothers admitted they were “worried” when they were two laps behind. Earlier in the race they had let the McFarlane Porsche go. “We decided to let them find the limits and they did,” said the Carter’s later. They also believed they were two laps short on fuel, hence the late pit stop.
Earlier in the day Chris Henderson of Dunedin won the opening round of the 1 Hour Series in his V8 powered Toyota Corolla AE86. The race developed into an enthralling tussle between Henderson and the Falcon of Aucklander Shane Hodgson which was resolved on the final lap when a tyre deflated on the Falcon, pitching it off the track leaving Henderson to win by 32.735 seconds from the Porsche of Steve Parker of Timaru and Dippie/O’Donnell in their Porsche.
Henderson said he could see Hodgson locking up under brakes and applied pressure. “He locked up again when I got by. I’m pretty stoked.” Hodgson said what happened at the end was a “real shame” for series sponsor, Carter’s Tyre Service who own the car. I didn’t realise the brakes were locking initially but the cars performance went backwards. The tyre went flat on the last lap and I was just a passenger.”
Sunday saw racing presented by Downer with Noel McIntyre Drainage Clubmans Saloons and Sports & Racing Cars. Liam MacDonald of Invercargill won the first Clubmans Saloon race in his Falcon and led the second before pulling out with mechanical problems leaving Adam Cullen of Dunedin to win in his Nissan GTR. Cullen and MacDonald were non-starters in the remaining races, both won by Jeremy Skeggs of Invercargill in his Mazda RX7. Skeggs also won the 2501cc & over class in the class race with Rachel Beck of Invercargill taking the 1601-2500cc class, Andrew Muir of Gore the 1301-1600cc class and Todd Blackmun of Invercargill the 0-1300cc class. Scott Milne of Invercargill also placed well throughout the four races.
Jordan Michels, who competed in every race throughout the weekend, won all four Sports & Racing Car races.