Auckland Ferrari outfit rebound from crash to take Highlands honours
Auckland-based race team Trass Family Motorsport have bounced back from a disastrous Hampton Downs 101 event to claim a top-10 finish at the Highlands 101 with their Ferrari 458 GT3.
In finishing the race ninth, the team and drivers Sam Fillmore and Danny Stutterd were also awarded the title of first New Zealand Invitational Team home.
“It's been a whole year since we started the journey, but it's been a great year,” said Stutterd.
Though Fillmore and Stutterd are classified as ‘amateur’ drivers, the pair have won two national titles — taking home the Mahindra North Island Endurance Series and Carters South Island Endurance Series in the build up to their assault on the final two rounds of the Australian GT Endurance Championship.
The duo's growth in experience over the course of the year was further bolstered by the addition of Dunlop Development Series driver and former AGT champion Richard Muscat as a driver coach.
However the team had to endure a tough run at the Hampton Downs 101, after an incident early in the weekend meant they had to sit out the remainder of the weekend.
“It was pretty hard to swallow the problems that we had at Hampton Downs,” said Fillmore.
“[But] the disappointment of Hampton Downs, it happens. You look at the BMW next door to us, it happens in motor racing. But that's what makes these moments so good.
“To come back strong is a nice way to finish the season off.”
The pair's weekend started with competing in the two final races of the Australian GT Championship's sprint season, finishing 22nd and 13th in the two races respectively.
They then put in a determined drive in the Highlands 101 event to outrace and outlast a number of more fancied teams and drivers to crack the top 10 — Craig Baird and Greg Murphy finishing first and second in their respective Australian entries.
“Our goal was to go and mix it up in the AGT sprint races. In the first race we had a bit of trouble with cars hitting us and bits and pieces, but then we came back strong in the second race,” said Fillmore.
“Our goal was to try and get in the top 10 within the 101, which we did.”
With New Zealand's endurance racing scene continuing to grow, Fillmore and Stutterd expect to be back again to defend their three respective titles in the new year.
“We're looking forward to doing it again, no doubt about it,” added Stutterd.
I think our disappointment though really after winning the North Island Endurance Series, South Island Endurance Series — if you're going to have a disappointment the one we could swallow was Hampton. But to come back strong is a nice way to finish the season off.