Preview: North Island Endurance Series takes on Pukekohe Park
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After a chaotic, weather-affected round one, round two of the ENEOS North Island Endurance Series kicks off tomorrow at Pukekohe Park.
With showers again looking like a possibility, organisers will be hoping to avoid some of the treacherous weather that changed the complexion of round one at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park.
Rain had been present for much of the day, but a deluge in the final 15 minutes turned the race upside down as multiple cars speared off the track into various sand traps. A red flag was called and Wet & Forget Racing’s Simon Evans and Chris Hanley were declared the race winners — only for the GilbertsonJMR Porsche 911 MR crew (headed by drivers John McIntyre and Simon Gilbertson) to launch a protest into the result.
At the time of writing the ongoing protest is in the hands of MotorSport New Zealand.
Like round one, two races are set to unfold tomorrow — a one-hour curtain-raiser punctuated by a plethora of Porsche 911 GT3s and former BNT V8s machines starts at 11am, followed by the headline three-hour race at 1pm. You can read the full timetable below.
After much pre-season promise, MIKE Racing endured a difficult round one in its two GT-A class Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS GT3s — the best of its finishers being ITM’s Brendon Leitch and Christina Orr-West in fourth place (ironically, collecting a class victory in the process).
The team will gain support from Brendon Leitch’s brother, Damon Leitch. Also a former driver in the Castrol Toyota Racing Series, Damon will aid the team as a crew chief.
“It’s a bit different from driving by myself, but still there’s that competitive element that I’ll still be using,” said Damon.
“I’m there to help from the other side of the fence rather than behind the wheel. It’ll be an interesting change and a bit of fun.”
MIKE Racing adds a third car to its stable, too, in the form of a 997-generation Porsche 911 GT3 Cup driven by SsangYong Race Series graduates Elliot Andrew and Rowan Shepherd.
It joins a packed GT-B sub-class punctuated by the Evans/Hanley Commodore, Gilbertson/McIntyre Porsche, and the impressive McLaren 570S GT4 driven by Hayden Johnston and Damon Jackson.
One new-to-New-Zealand GT4-based models will also join the class this weekend; the Ford Mustang GT4 of Rick and Deon Cooper. While another new GT4-spec machine — Kent Baigent's BMW M4 — will take on the one-hour race.
GT-A, meanwhile, is again bolstered by the SaReNi Camaro GT3 of Glenn Smith and John de Veth, and the International Motorsport Audi R8 of Johnny Reid and Neil Foster.
Reid and IMS (along with co-driver Andrew Fawcett) are fresh from a stellar performance at the Phillip Island 101 enduro, where they finished an impressive fourth.
Overall, almost 60 cars are set to tackle the two races.
● Watch live streaming of the ENEOS North Island Endurance Series tomorrow at Driven.co.nz
Full Saturday timetable:
9.15–9.35am: Qualifying session 1 for 3 Hour Race
9.40–10:10am: Qualifying for 1 Hour Race
10.15–10.35am: Qualifying session 2 for 3 Hour Race
11.00am–12.00pm: One Hour Race
12.15–12.45pm: Lunch break
1.00–4.00pm: 3 Hour Race