The first round of the 2017 ENEOS North Island Endurance Series at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park in Taupo is set to feature a bumper grid come May 20.
Over 60-cars will take to the central North Island circuit this weekend across the One Hour and Three Hour races.
The GT class will be the talking point with the class this year split into GT A and GT B. The former will cater to FIA homologated GT3 racing cars. Two Audi R8s, a Reiter Engineering SaReNi Camaro, one Ferrari 458 and a soon to be confirmed GT3 entry will feature in the Three Hour GT A class.
Alongside Sam Fillmore, Dan Gaunt will be looking to continue Trass Family Motorsport’s winning form. However, he will be hard pressed by the Smeg Racing crew of Simon Evans and Gene Rollinson who come into this weekend off the back of a New Zealand Endurance Championship win.
GT B is for all GT cars which aren’t FIA GT3 specification. Nick Chester’s ex-V8 Supercar Holden Commodore, and the NZ Touring Car Commodores of Callum Quin and Simon McLennan, James Urquhart and Richard Moore, and Lance Hughes alongside Andre Heimgartner are part of the front running field.
The Simon Sceats and James Kirkpatrick Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car will also be in the mix of GT3 and V8 machinery in the GT B class.
Classes Three, Two and One cater to cars with 1600cc to 2000cc, 2001cc to 3500cc, and over 3500cc respectively. An eclectic mix of cars will take to each grid, with 36 cars for the One Hour and 28 for the Three Hour.
North Island Endurance Series coordinator Kel McBeath said he’s looking forward to the forthcoming season.
“The club are really excited about how the heries is shaping up for 2017,” McBeath said.
“Both Taupo races have large fields packed with quality cars, which will make for action packed racing.
“It is really a spectacular sight seeing the faster machinery carve their way through the field while individual class battles are also being closely fought.
“It requires a lot of skill from both the faster and slower cars, which is what makes endurance racing such a unique experience for both the competitors and spectators.”
The series has perhaps the widest variety of vehicles with Nissan, SEAT, Toyota, Holden, Ford, Ferrari, Audi, SsangYong and many more manufacturers represented on the grid.
The GT B Class within the One Hour race will likely see some of the fiercest competition. 11 cars will line up, including reigning One Hour title holder and Pirelli Porsche Racing Series champion Matt Whittaker.
He’ll be hard pressed by Paul Verryt though, who will be campaigning his Holden Commodore VE NZ Touring Car, in what will be his second season beginning this weekend.
Tim James will be another face to look for. His Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car recently arrived on New Zealand shores, formerly in the hands of Patrick Dempsey. Ian Hayr will also be pushing hard for the One Hour title in his GT3 Cup car too.
Action begins at 10:00 am on Saturday morning with the first qualifying session, before the One Hour race kicks off at 11:15 pm.