A late race drama for the Ferrari F430 Challenge driven by former race leaders Robin Gray and Jono Lester gifted the lead of the final round of the Mahindra North Island Endurance Series to the older Porsche 996 911 Cup car of Craig Innes and Mike Maddren – a lead they wouldn’t surrender in the closing hour.
The three lap lead enjoyed by Lester and Gray’s Ferrari F430 Challenge would evaporate with just over an hour to go – a missing wheel-nut and subsequent drama’s for the former leader losing them not only the race lead but also many laps.
Chief among the beneficiaries was the 996 911 of Innes and Maddren – taking the lead, then maintaining their lead over the final two hours.
Fillmore and Stuttered’s second place finish didn’t come easily – their Porsche coated in scratches and dents following an incident-packed race, which included a spin on the exit of the turn six hair-pin. Still, despite the issues they were able to make up one lap of margin from the eventual winners – finishing two laps behind.
The Australian combination of Malcom Niall and Mark Pilatti completed the podium, making it a Porsche 1-2-3.
The Lester/Gray Ferrari did eventually return to the track with just over half an hour remaining in the race, but by that stage they had slid to fifth position – behind the reliable giant-killing BMW 3 series of Kayne Barrie and Colin Jones. After initially attempting to take down the BMW to make it a Motorsport Services 1-2-3-4, the Ferrari looked to have retired with fifteen minutes remaining. But the team would send Lester back out to complete a lap in the final minutes of the race in order to be classified as a finisher – they would eventually finish in sixth position.
In a race of attrition, only eight cars would take the chequered flag – the Subaru Impreza shared by Marcus Heke and Graeme Smyth would finish in fifth following a clean race. The silver Mazda RX7 driven by Dave Goodwin, and Arie and Bruce Brooks would finish in seventh, with the V6 Mazda Lantis of Adam Carpenter and Vivian Eden rounding out the field.
Over the six hours, winners Maddren and Innes would lap the Hampton Downs facility 288 times – proving the worth of consistency and reliability.