Lamborghini wins drama-filled Hampton Downs 101
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Pole-sitters David Russell and Roger Lago have won the inaugural Hampton Downs 101 in a drama-packed race at the North Waikato track on Sunday.
A number of safety car interventions changed the fortunes of the race but the Lamborghini R-EX, with Russell behind the wheel, won a mad dash to the line in the dying stages sneaking past the Ferrari of Peter Edwards and Graeme Smyth.
A last lap incident saw Smyth's Ferrari spun around as the chasing cars fought for position. Australian GT Endurance Championship leader Nathan Morcom, who partnered Grant Denyer in a McLaren, was the guilty party. They continued to cross the line third behind the Porsche of John Martin and Duvashen Padayachee though would later incur a 30-second penalty for the clash — dropping them to fifth.
Their loss was Garth Tander and Daniel Bilski's gain; the penalty promoting them to the third step of the podium.
A safety car eight laps earlier threw the race into chaos as it saw Edwards' lead of 15 seconds evaporate and bring the pole-sitters back into contention.
Kiwi driver Dominic Storey and his co-driver Peter Hackett were penalized after they failed to stay stationary long enough during their final pit stop. All cars are given a minimum time that they must be stopped for based on their combination's driving experience.
The mistake proved costly for the Mercedes drivers as they looked like they would have been in the box seat to win the race but were forced to come back in to the pits as a result.
It also hurt their championship chances — a win at Hampton Downs would have catapulted them up form fourth in the standings.
Storey lowered the lap record a number of times late in the race, further underlining how likely a race win would have been.
An early safety car right as cars took their first pit stops caught out those cars that had yet to enter the pits, including Kiwi star Greg Murphy, driving alongside track owner Tony Quinn in his Aston Martin.
The season finale is at Highlands Motorsport Park near Cromwell in a fortnight.