Andrew Bagnall and Ant Pedersen won an exciting opening round of the 2014 ASKO South Island 3 Hour Endurance Series at Teretonga Park in Invercargill on Saturday.
The duo, driving a Porsche GT3, held off the fast finishing Porsche of multiple series champion Paul Kelly and his vastly experienced co-driver Craig Baird by 4.377 seconds. The Kelly/Baird Porsche was gaining 3 seconds a lap in the closing stages after a safety car intervention but ran out of time to hunt down the Bagnall/Pedersen Porsche. The exciting finish was set up when rain swept across the circuit twenty minutes from the end of the race. Most pitted for wets while the safety car intervened after several cars left the track. Racing resumed but the safety car reappeared with seven minutes to go and when it pulled in it was a sprint to the finish with the Kelly/Baird car making big inroads into the Bagnall/Pedersen car’s lead.
Third place went to the Sam Fillmore/Danny Stutterd Porsche, the pair backing up from their fourth place in the earlier one hour event. Fourth was Allan Dippie/Scott O’Donnell in a Porsche GT3 Cup S after an eventful race. The Dippie/O’Donnell car spun on the first lap leaving debris on the circuit which damaged the windscreen of the George and Angus McFarlane Porsche. The Dippie/O’Donnell car recovered to salvage fourth while the McFarlane Porsche pitted to have the front and rear windscreen removed. However the car succumbed to problems later in the race.
Fifth was Mike Driver (Timaru)/Guy Stewart (Christchurch) in their Seat Leon Supercopa after a good drive while John De Veth of Cambridge and John Hepburn of Timaru also recorded an impressive effort in the V8 SuperTourer prototype that won the recent Mahindra North Island Endurance Series. The car had not qualified and started from the rear of the grid and despite some alternator problems during the race the duo brought it home sixth.
Prominent non-finishers included the Craig Innes/Simon McLennan Porsche, the Matt & Dwayne Carter Falcon V8 Supercar which suffered alternator problems and the Robin Gray/Jono Lester Ferrari F430 Ferrari which broke an exhaust manifold. The Craig/Scott McDermid twin turbo Toyota Supra went off the track cuasing much damage. Sadly the much anticipated debut of the Tulloch/Aitken Camaro did not occur, the car not starting the race due to gearbox issues. The Lindsay O’Donnell/Phil Mauger Porsche also had an off after touching another car in the high speed loop.
Overall victory secured Bagnall/Pedersen the GT Class from Kelly/Baird and Fillmore/Stutterd while 2011 and 2013 class champions Paul Rickerby/Graeme Rhodes of Christchurch won Class 1 in their updated 6.8 litre Mazda RX7. Class 2 honours was the reward for the fine performance of Driver/Stewart who took the class from Steve Parker/Matt Jackson in their turboocharged Honda S2000. Garry Cliff/Hayden Knighton of Christchurch took out Class 3/4 in their factory-built Mugen Civic Cup car from Paul Coghill (Dunedin)/Kynan Yu (Cromwell) in a Honda Civic Type R and class regulars Ken Sinclair/Dennis Ham in their ultra-reliable Peugeot 106.
The series is again excited to have ASKO Appliances as its naming rights sponsor and along with series sponsors Mobil 1, Pacific Invoice Finance, Paul Kelly Motor Company and Hagley Aluminium they have managed to secure a significant prize money pool to pay out to series competitors. We have $30,000 in cash that we will pay out across the classes in both the 3hr & 1hr Series said series secretary Chris Dunn. Plus we have a magnificent Norm Sinclair original painting valued around $10,000 a set of new Michelin tyres and goodies from ENDLESS brakes that will all be given away as spot prizes, so its again NZs biggest prize and prizemoney package. The Series has been awarded NZ Endurance Championship status for 2014.
The ASKO Endurance Series now moves to Mike Pero Motorsport Park, Ruapuna, Christchurch on 4 October before the Series grand finale at Levels Raceway, Timaru on 18 October, where the overall 3 Hour Series champion will be awarded the South Canterbury Toyota Cup as well as the New Zealand Endurance Championship title
For more information on the South Island Endurance Series, entries, or to be added to the South Island Endurance Racing Drivers Clubs e-mailing list, please contact Chris Dunn via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org ph 021-107-9293. Club information can also be found on facebook at www.facebook.com/sierdcnz, where there are free tickets plus a hotlap to be given away. For more information on the series sponsor ASKO, please visit www.asko.co.nz