Teething trouble for Murphy/Penny Aston Martin in Three-Hour NI endurance round

| Photographer Credit: Neville Bailey

Drivers John Penny and Ronan Murphy are feeling optimistic about the remaining races in the 2022 Golden Homes North Island Endurance series, despite things getting off to a bumpy start at the opening round at Pukekohe Park, held over the weekend (7th – 8th May).

The duo made their co-driving debut in an Aston Martin AMR Vantage V8 GT3, sponsored by Penny Homes and Aston Martin Auckland, and were able to adapt quickly to the new car despite it only having arrived into the country a week prior.

“It was almost straight out of the container and onto the race track,” Murphy explained. “The RaceLab crew didn’t have a lot of time to prepare the car and did an amazing job with such limited time.

“We knew it was going to be a matter of just getting straight out there and learning as much as possible, as quickly as we could. We were quite fortunate we didn’t have any major issues during practice, so we did get that time to really focus on getting comfortable with the new car and finding our footing.”

The success of Friday’s practice session carried over into the following day, with Murphy setting the 3rd fastest time of the 30 minute session.

Pits top for John Penny (exiting the car) and Ronan Murphy

The 3-hour endurance race was another story, however.

Penny piloted the Aston Martin for the first stint but just before the first scheduled pitstop an issue with the cars low fuel alarm left him seemingly stranded on the side of the track. Running on fumes, he was eventually able get the V8 Vantage back to the pits.

“We were very much in the hunt up until that point, but that put us two laps down and was ultimately what cost us,” Penny says. “The key things we took away from the weekend were that the car uses a bit more fuel than we were hoping, so we’ll have to work on that — that’s just engine mapping.

“The other issue was with our chassis set-up, which still needs perfecting. Although these are things that you walk away feeling concerned about, they’re also positive — they tell us that really there’s a lot more in the car.”

Murphy took up the helm for the second stint, with Penny then bringing the car home in 5th position just behind Greg Murphy, who also competed in the 3-hour race alongside Shane Helms. Andrew Waite and Sam Fillmore took out the top spot, followed by Ant and Paul Pederson, then Daniel Gaunt and Andrew Fawcett in third.

“We were disappointed, obviously, but there are some real positives to take away as well,” says Penny.

“Ronan did a fantastic job in qualifying, and he really stepped up so that was great to see him in a good space and showing his potential.”

20-year-old Murphy came away from the first race feeling positive despite the hurdles faced.

“It was a really enjoyable experience for me and it was a weekend with a lot of firsts. Pukekohe is an exciting track to race at and it’s also very high risk, so you definitely have to be cautious and very methodical in the way you approach it.

“The car was incredible to drive though – I’ve never driven something with that much power or downforce. It has a lot of potential which we’re yet to unlock.”

The team has plenty of data to go through before the second round of the 2022 Golden Homes North Island Endurance Series kicks off at Taupō Motorsport on May 27th-28th.

Three-Hour Race Results + points

1/ Andrew Waite/Sam Fillmore (Audi R8 LMS GT3) – 95
2/ Ant Pedersen/Paul Pedersen (Mercedes AMG) – 90
3/ Daniel Gaunt/Andew Fawcett (McLaren 720S GT3) – 86
4/ Greg Murphy/Shane Helms (Renault R.S.01) – 82
5/ Ronan Murphy/John Penny (Aston Martin Vantage GT3) – 79
6/ Jason Leifting/David Cremer (McLaren 570 S GT4) – 76
DNF Bill Riding/Steve Brooks (Porsche 991 Gen 2) – 20
DNF Heremana Mameza/Francois Beziac (Porsche 991 MR) – 20
DNF Chris van de Drift/Lance Hughes (Lamborghini Gallardo R-EX GT3) – 20

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