Motorsport Wrap: Hartley breaks WEC drought in Germany
Hartley and van Gisbergen winners on opposite sides of the globe
It was a very busy weekend for Kiwis in motorsport (busier still when meant to scribe about all of it spends most of their weekend stranded in Feilding without phone or internet reception ...). And unlike some of the other weekends in the recent past, just about everyone was able to take home some kind of silver lining.
Brendon Hartley and co get 2016 monkey off the back
Photo / Porsche
Took 'em long enough!
After a somewhat muted start to the 2016 World Endurance Championship, reigning champs Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard, and Brendon Hartley took victory overnight at the fourth round of the season at the famously infamous Nürburgring.
Starting from third, the #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid squad overcame Audi's charge. If anything, their main competition was the series-leading #2 Porsche. After they incurred the wrath of a slow-puncture, they lose the race lead to their 919 teammates. But, an incident with a slower car saw the #2 car get handed down a penalty, helping gift the lead back to Hartley's crew — ultimately earning themselves a 53-second win over the next best #8 Audi.
Fellow Kiwi Richie Stanaway finished fifth in the GTE-Pro class, after his campaign with Aston Martin co-driver Darren Turner hit a snag when their team had to replace a door.
Cassidy's 'what if?' weekend at Sugo
Photo / sourced
After a breakthrough Formula 3 win last weekend, Nick Cassidy most likely entered the latest round of the Japanese Super GT championship on cloud nine. And that would've only been strengthened after he was able to plant his and co-driver Daisuke Ito's au Lexus RC-F in fourth place on the GT500 grid.
Come race start, Cassidy got as high as third before ultimately having to serve a pre-determined stop-go penalty in pit lane for a monocoque infringement that officials had located on the Lexus between sessions.
Fading back to 13th, Cassidy — then teammate Ito — persevered to eventually finish seventh. A fine drive, but a podium would've been finer ...
SVG and Chris Pither stamp Kiwi names on Ipswich
Photo / Super Black Racing
After joining Super Black Racing for 2016, Supercars Championship rookie Chris Pither has endured a mixed season. It started with huge crashes at the Clipsal 500 and Tasmania SuperSprint, but was balanced by several strong drives; including a great weekend at Barbagallo Raceway.
Things reached a new peak in qualifying on Saturday after he claimed a maiden pole position for race one at Ipswich in Queensland — the first pole too for the Kiwi Super Black Racing team. The race itself didn't quite go to plan, with the driver only able to finish 11th, but the pole is still a huge step for someone debuting in the series with a team that's almost just as young.
In his absence, fellow New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen won the opening race of the weekend — snatching the lead off his Red Bull teammate Jamie Whincup in the second to last lap. Race two was won by a dominant Craig Lowndes, in a weekend where Triple Eight's Commodores were definitely the machines to have.
It was van Gisbergen's fourth win of the season — he being the only driver to claim that many with the next best drivers being series leader Whincup, Lowndes, Scott McLaughlin, and Tim Slade all on two.
Lester back on the Lamborghini podium
Photo / sourced
Aucklander Jono Lester was back to his best at Thailand's Buriram circuit on the weekend, taking a pole and two podium finishes with Direction Racing teammate Yasuyuki Uchida.
But things could've been better, with Lester and Uchida in the box seat to win both races. Sadly a pit-stop drama in race one and a spin in race two put paid to both results. Still, their hunt for a championship win looks strong at the season's halfway mark.
“Our main rivals have a lead now equivalent to a race win (of points) so we really need them to suffer a DNF to bring us back into play now,” said Lester.
“The biggest challenge moving forward is mastering a bunch of new circuits, of which Chang was one, but given the perfect pole run so far we seem to be doing OK with that!”
Everyone's a winner at the Mahindra North Island Endurance finale
Emotions were a little mixed among Trass Family Motorsport and International Motorsport after a unique twist in the tail of the three-hour 2016 North Island Endurance Series saw both teams tie on championship points — resulting in both factions having to share the title honours.
Initially it looked like neither would take the crown after Tulloch Motorsport's John McIntyre and Simon Gilbertson put together a blistering performance to lead comfortably with the end in sight. But rear damage forced the team to make a late pit stop for repairs, putting them out of the race and title hunt in heartbreaking fashion.
Instead, 'amateur racers' (not to discount them, they both raced like pros on the day) Sam Fillmore and Danny Stutterd grabbed the race win for Trass Family Motorsport, and thus equaled International Motorsport's Jonny Reid and Neil Foster at the head of the points standings.
Crews now prepare themselves for the impending combined New Zealand Endurance Championship finale, which is scheduled to take place in Christchurch early next year.
Up and downs for carnage dodger Evans
Photo / GP2 Series
Former Toyota Racing Series and GP3 Series champion Mitch Evans continued to toil away over the weekend at the latest GP2 Series event in Hungary.
Evans struggled in initial qualifying, only starting the first race from 14th. That became 10th in the race, though it still wasn't enough for him to register points for his Campos Racing team
Race two was markedly better. Starting from ninth, he marched to fifth by just the second corner after a multi-car stack unfolded just in front of him. Narrowly avoiding the drama, he then progressed to fourth when the race was restarted; passing Russia's Artem Markelov for the place. Markelov eventually got him back, but fifth was still a good result for the team after a difficult weekend.
Read more about Brendon Hartley and Richie Stanaway at the Nürburgring: qualifying / race
Read more about Nick Cassidy's Super GT top-seven
Read more about the Supercars at Ipswich: race one / race two
Read more about Jono Lester's run in Thailand
Read more about the North Island Endurance Series finale on Driven
Read more about Mitch Evans' GP2 Series weekend