Guns come out this weekend for GT1 at Hampton Downs
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This weekend's round of the Speedworks Motorsport Championship at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park signals the penultimate round of the 2016-17 TradeZone GTRNZ calendar.
The category houses a vast collection of race cars spread across four classes; GT1, GT2, GT3, and GT4. This weekend it opens the door to two more machines -- Logical Motorsport's Nissan Nismo R35 GT-R and Smeg Racing's Audi R8 LMS.
Both cars will compete in GT1 against the likes of Glenn Smith's Daytona Prototype Porsche and Cameron Jones' rotary-powered Chevrolet Camaro trans am. The pair plan to use the weekend as an opportunity to test their FIA GT3-specification cars ahead of the endurance championship calendar.
Smeg Racing will race its car [pictured below] at next weekend's New Zealand Endurance Championship finale in Christchurch, and both cars will take on the Eneos North Island Endurance Series and the Carters Tyre Service South Island Endurance Series later in the year.
"It'll be quite interesting to measure where we're actually at in terms of pace," said Logical Motorsport's Clark Proctor.
"I love GT1. I just think it's just a fantastic expression of New Zealand's inspiration and collective creativity.
"You sit around a shed and decide to start with something fairly standard and then over time it takes shape and gets developed into a bit of an animal."
Proctor campaigned his GT-R in the final two rounds of the 2016 Australian GT Endurance Championship -- claiming the crown of first Kiwi home and seventh overall at Hampton Downs with co-driver Andrew Porter. A crash at the series finale denied them the chance to go two from two, and also damaged the GT-R. Thankfully the damage was cosmetic.
Proctor praised Nissan New Zealand for its support of the campaign, as the amount of GT3-spec cars in the country continues to grow.
"I'd have to say that they have embraced the concept of the car and gotten behind it, and we're looking forward to having a great bloody year with their help," he said. "I think it's an acknowledgement perhaps that it could be considered to be the way forward for motorsport in New Zealand; to go towards GT3 and GT4.
"That doesn't take anything away from GTRNZ, but it creates that next level for people who want to pay a similar amount of money to V8 touring cars, perhaps, but build reliability into the game and take some of the cost out.
"It's all become expensive, and anything that can make the cars safer, more reliable, and cheaper to run has got to be good."
Other categories competing at the Hampton Downs meeting include the Toyota 86 Championship, the Portergroup V8 Utes, and the BNT NZ Touring Car Championship -- with this weekend representing the final round of each respective title's season.