Flooding forces final endurance fight to Sunday

The ENEOS North Island Endurance Series field will have to wait another day to find out the title winners of the One and Three Hour series, after Saturday’s racing was rained out.

Pre-weekend forecasts predicted rain for Saturday’s event, but the overnight deluge was too great for South Auckland’s Pukekohe Park facility to handle.

“That was a lot of rain last night and it’s flooded the track in a few places,” North Island Endurance Series organiser David Dovey said.

“There’s a couple of places on the track that are creating a stream. It’s probably 15mm deep running across the track.

“If you’re going across the hill at 160kph, you don’t go through that easily and the race cars will straighten up.”

With the support of the stewards, teams and 90 per cent of the drivers, officials decided the circuit was too dangerous to compete on by midday.

Several parts of the track were inundated with flooding, most visible was that of turn one where two pools of water covered the inside and outside of the track. There was only enough room for one line through the turn the road rises in the middle.

“The water comes right up to the top of my shoe, you can’t hit that at 200kph.

“There’s one dry line there which is one car width wide. As soon as it rains hard there’s no dry line at all. It’s way too dangerous.”

The straight exiting the hairpin was littered with streams and pools, while several streams from the top of ITM Hill caused a significant aquaplaning hazard leading onto the front straight.

A drivers meeting was called well after the start of the One Hour race was scheduled to be run. Of the drivers who voted, the majority wanted to race on Sunday. Some wanted to race on Saturday, despite the conditions.

Organisers sought the advice of NZ Touring Cars title winners Simon Evans and ex-A1GP driver Jonny Reid. Having seen the pools around the circuit the experience drivers suggested efforts be made to drain the affected areas.

With no rain forecast overnight and into Sunday there are hopes the circuit will be dry enough to compete on.

“You’re going to end up with someone in the wall, off the track or out with some damage in those conditions.

“We’ve cleared the drains and tried to divert some of the water. The main issue is the top of the hill and they’re sandbagging the hill to try and divert the water from not going across the track.”

Negotiations between Pukekohe Park track management and race organisers eventually came to an agreement to run the race on Sunday. The One Hour race is scheduled for a 10:00am start, with the Three Hour set for 11:30am.

Dovey believed the likelihood of getting a race in on Sunday was high with parts of the flooding to be mitigated as the rain eases. He said he’s excited for tomorrow’s battle for the overall and class honours, which will be decided.

“I’m confident we’re going to have a race tomorrow. All the way through the field there’s lot of fights, it’s going to be good so bring it on.”

The final round of the ENEOS North Island Endurance Series takes place at Pukekohe Park on Sunday July 23. For more information visit the North Island Endurance Series Facebook page.

Flooding forces final endurance fight to Sunday

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