Mercedes 1–2: Youngsters grab Pukekohe endurance win
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After plenty of plot twists came at round one of the ENEOS North Island Endurance Series, round two has delivered more of the same at Pukekohe Park.
MIKE Racing, a fresh endurance arrival to New Zealand's motorsport shores, claimed a 1–2 finish — Toyota Racing New Zealand graduates Reid Harker and Jack Milligan taking the win ahead of Brendon Leitch and Christina Orr-West.
The drama actually began overnight, when officials confirmed that the results of round one at Hampton Downs were set to swap after a lengthy inquiry. John McIntyre and Simon Gilbertson were announced as the winners, over Simon Evans and Chris Hanley (who were originally declared the race winners).
Evans and Hanley would be non-starters for today's racing, too, with engine problems sidelining them and their monstrous Wet & Forget Racing Holden Commodore.
The four drivers and their two Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS GT3s sat in third and fourth for much of the race (despite Harker claiming pole position). But they became the early race contenders both ran into problems.
The first was the Chesters Plumbing Holden VZ Commodore ex-V8 Supercar of Nick Chester and Cameron Jones. They dominated proceedings early thanks to superior straight-line speed, but suspension failure saw Jones crash out at the halfway mark.
This gave the lead to the Elf Oil SaReNi Camaro GT3 of Glenn Smith and John De Veth. But their requirement to make a second pit-stop (compared to everyone else's single-stop strategy) handed first to Harker for the run to the flag.
A late safety car saw Leitch close right in on Harker after nearly going a lap down, and initially the pairing battled and fought. But just as it looked like Harker had the race under control, Leitch encountered fuel problems, and the gap swelled from about three seconds to nine seconds by the time the chequered flag flew.
Smith and De Veth were able to recover to finish third, while round-one winners McIntyre and Gilbertson and fellow Porsche pilots Michael Neville and James Kutia completed the top five.
McIntyre and Gilbertson's result doubled as class victory in GT-B, while Andre Mortimer/Glen Chappel (BMW M3 GTR), Bryan Symes/Lochlainn Fitzgerald-Symes (SEAT Leon Supercopa), and Stefan Calcott/Shane Drake (Honda Integra Type R) represented the class winners across Class One, Class Two, and Class Three respectively.
Earlier in the day, former BNT V8s driver Tim Edgell took first by two laps in the one-hour endurance race in his ex-NZ SuperTourers Holden Commodore. He led home Matt Griffin and Marco Schelp, both in BMWs.
Results (top 10)
|1. Reid Harker/Jack Milligan (Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS)||146 laps|
|2. Brendon Leitch/Christina Orr-West (Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS)||+9.152|
|3. Glenn Smith/John De Veth (SaReNi Camaro)||+43.857|
|4. Simon Gilbertson/John McIntyre (Porsche 911 GT3 MR)||+49.904|
|5. Michael Neville/James Kutia (Porsche 911 GT3 Cup)||+ 1 lap|
|6. Simon Sceats/James Kilpatrick (Porsche 911 GT3 Cup)||+2 laps|
|7. Kent Baigent/Bob Siewright (BMW M4 GT4)||+2 laps|
|8. Andre Mortimer/Glen Chappel (BMW E46 M3 GTR)||+3 laps|
|9. Bryan Symes/Lochlainn Fitzgerald-Symes (Seat Leon Supercopa)||+4 laps|
|10. Bruce Kett/Shane Johnston (Ford Falcon)|