Hampton Downs full international circuit will be the perfect venue this Saturday for the clash of the GT titans as the best endurance racers in the country battle it out for honours in the New Zealand Endurance Championship final.
Recently crowned South Island champs Jonny Reid and Neil Foster in their International Motorsport run Audi R8 LMS GT3 head the entry alongside North Island Endurance series champs Glenn Smith and John De Veth in their McLaren 650s. Reid and Foster will be looking to revenge a defeat in the North Island champs after their final round was blighted with technical issues.
Twenty five plus cars are lined up for the three hour race, which will see a domestic endurance event run for the first time on the full 3.8km International Circuit. The GT specification cars, as well as some of the V8 powered machines, should be on the limit of their potential with the two long straights and challenging curves of the North Waikato track.
One of the most interesting cars in the field this weekend will be the latest from the Racer Products stable. Gene Rollinson and Rhys Gould qualified for the final following a notable campaign in the TCR Hyundai but they get a major upgrade for the weekend debuting the Gallardo Extenso R-EX.
Designed by Reiter Engineering to comply with GT3 regulations and launched as the last in line of the racing Gallardos before the introduction of the Huracán, the car features a rear track widened by five inches to make it over 80 inches in width.
Reiter wrapped it in full carbon fibre bodywork and reworked the engine with new camshafts for more torque and stronger engine internals. The most extreme Gallardo ever built also comes with an engine sound specifically tuned by Reiter for both performance and fans’ ’emotions’.
Another interesting inclusion in the three hour field this weekend is the Byers Motorsport first generation R8 LMS Audi. The team has been working flat out to cure a gearbox issue that reared its head at the final round of the South Island series a fortnight ago. Drivers Ben Byers and Christina Orr-West are desperate to race in the final in the Dayle ITM-backed machine having turned a few heads with both their speed and determination.
Securing third overall in the South Island championship after the dramas they experienced proved to be a popular result and Orr-West particularly will be looking to demonstrate once again the pace and racecraft that has arguably made her New Zealand’s all-time best lady racer.
Jared Owens, Nick Chester and Tim O’Connor should be right at the sharp end in the one hour final in their Porsche, Holden Supercar and Ferrari machines respectively, while Andy Duffin is sure to be a crowd favourite in the screaming fire breathing triple Rotor Mazda RX7. The quick and underrated John Midgley, however, might just be the man to put them all to the sword in the one hour encounter. Either way, it should be quite a race.
Practice takes place on Friday with qualifying and race action getting underway on Saturday morning.