Alex Riberas and Darren Kelly driving the Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 have overcome a drive through penalty to win the opening round of the Golden Homes North Island Endurance Series from Neil Foster and Jonny Reid in second and Glenn Smith and John de Veth in third.
Jonny Reid led the opening stages of the race as the field settled into the race. Chris van der Drift would inherit the lead after the half hour mark when Jonny Reid pitted to hand over his Audi R8 to Neil Foster and Darren Kelly making his first scheduled pit stop.
The Steve Harrison and Shane Murland pitted in the first 1hour to fix their rear defuser as it had came apart from the car however shock would rip through the paddock when the Penny Homes/Racer Products Lamborghini driven by John Penny had suffered a violent crash on the front straight while trying to pass lap traffic.
While the Lamborghini suffered to much damaged to be fixed John Penny was able to get out of the car without help from paramedics.
Chris van der Drift would hand over the Hamilton Asphalts Nissan GTR to car owner Lance Hughes during the safety car period as well as Darren Kelly who handed the Heart of Racing Aston Martin to Alex Riberas after Kelly had completed his mandatory 60minute stint.
Rain would fall during the middle hour as Riberas was able to pass Lance Hughes from over 2Laps down however they would be given a drive through penalty when the second safety car was called when the Todd and Rhys Bawden BMW 235i had got stuck on the turn 4 curb and Riberas was caught passing the safety car when the safety car lights were on.
Luckily Riberas had built a big enough gap where he didn’t lose a position in the process. Neil Foster handed the car back to Jonny Reid and Hughes had handed his car back to Chris van der Drift after they had completed their compulsory 60-minute stints.
The third safety car of the race was caused by Toyota Altezza of Seton Head who had a coming together with another competitor at turn 5 and couldn’t get his car restarted but was able to make it to the finished.
A podium was looking likely for Lance Hughes and Chris van der Drift in Lances first race in the Nissan R35 GTR GT3 but a off in the last hour caused significant damage to the front splitter causing the team to make two unscheduled pitstops in the dying stages of the race.
Alex Riberas cruised to victory with Jonny Reid recovering from as low as 5th to finished second while John de Veth was able to salvage third after a though afternoon at the office after multiple spins during the race. Rob Williams and Don McIntyre won GT-B while Wayne Leach and Paul Burborough won Class 1.
Overall and GT-A
1st 52 Alex Riberas/Darren Kelly Aston Martin AMR GT3 Heart of Racing
2nd 22 Neil Foster/Jonny Reid Audi R8 LMS International Motorsport
3rd 1 Glenn Smith/John de Veth McLaren 650 S GT3 SBT Motorsport
1st 24 Rob Williams/Don McIntyre Porsche 997 Appletree Motor Inc
7 Wayne Leach/Paul Burborough BMW 235i Winger Group