Winning today’s three-hour endurance race at the Pukekohe Park Raceway cemented the overall 2015 North Island Endurance race title for Nelson’s John McIntyre and Southland’s Ian (Inky) Tulloch.
Heading a field of 36 cars the Tulloch Motorsport German built Sareni Reiter Camaro GT3 ran to a precise plan – including the winning margin of 4.81sec.
Completing 142 laps of the 2.91km circuit came with numerous challenges the team had to overcome.
Noise restrictions resulted in a late change to the circuit configuration – a pill readily accepted by the teams’ ahead of the afternoon race start. That on top of the Tulloch team working through to 2am re-readying the car to be noise compliant added spice to the intensity of competition.
Tulloch started the race and encountered four safety car periods during his stint before handing over to McIntyre after the half-way mark.
“Fact is Inky stretched the car’s fuel out past where I could complete the race without needing to stop,” said McIntyre. “The one-stop strategy gave us the best chance at being competitive at the finish without needing to take risks.”
Needing to finish ahead of the reliable and potent DeVeth/Smith V8 SuperTourer prototype car to take the series title, the Tulloch Motorsport team kept their race strategy in play despite a late safety car period that bunched up the field behind them.
During the closing laps the dash to the line came with increasing sun-strike, interspersed with cars struggling to make their way round the track.
“It was a risk game I had to minimise the odds on – so I dropped the pace to improve our chances of finishing.”
Winning by a margin of 4.81sec over the Ferrari 430GT of Lester and Smyth, their title rivals finished third.
“Today was a hard-fought result,” said McIntyre. “Getting the race win against such world-class machinery while driving such a special car was a real buzz. Although it really sank in when I got back to the team and could see what it also meant to them – all of them – that we had won the title.
“It was a tough series with hard competition – and we overcame all of that as a team.
“Every race we had lots of challenges – it was never straightforward. And I believe it was the team’s unity that gave Inky and I our best shot at winning.
“Today highlighted how critical it is to finish every race if you want a shot at the title. It is a classic age-old scenario.
“Endurance racing is here to stay and if you’re going to be successful you have to have a good car and a good team.”
Multiple New Zealand champion Tulloch was humbled by the team’s results across the three-round season.
“Our highlight was being competitive against some of the best GT cars in the world. Against Ferrari’s, many late specification Porsches, 2015 Audi R8’s and a Mosler – we out qualified them all and beat them all. While our car is far from perfect you measure things by results.
“We had to overcome a lot of adversity and while the car gave us an equal opportunity to run in the series I think to be fair the team work was pretty seamless. They are all there for that common purpose – it was fun for them. It has been a long time since I’ve been in a team like that.”
McIntyre also picked up on the attention adorned by a swelling fan base: “People see these cars in racing games and on TV – as the elite and cars to aspire to – and here we are, racing them in their backyard. It is starting to get peoples interest – to see what they awe at in the virtual world here in the flesh. It is definitely a new era of racing here in New Zealand.
The pair will return to competition in September for the three-round South Island version – the driving force behind the success of the North Island series.
Three Hour Results (Top 5)
1 222 Tulloch /McIntyre 142 3:00:18.252
2 26 Lester / Smyth 142 3:00:23.063 +04.811
3 23 DeVeth /Smith 140 3:00:59.487 +2 laps
4 911 O’Donnel /Dippie 137 3:01:01.776 +5 laps
5 135 Farmer /Farmer /Martin 135 3:01:16.708 +7 laps