Auckland brothers Matt & Dwayne Carter won the 2009 ASKO Appliances South Island Endurance Series when the final round took place at Powerbuilt Tools Raceway, Ruapuna in Christchurch on Saturday
It was a very close finish in a day of high drama at the Canterbury circuit.
The duo were on target to take an easy race win plus the title as they dominated the Southern 300 in their Ford Falcon V8 Supercar, building a massive 7 lap lead until disaster struck just minutes from the chequered flag. A blown gearbox in the final moments cost them the race, allowing the Christchurch duo of Gary Cliff and Hayden Knighton in a Porsche 911 to snatch a last minute victory by just over 17 seconds from Lindsay O'Donnell and Mark Dwyer in another Porsche. Dunedin duo Warren Good and Arron Black capped a good drive in their BMW with third place.
The Carters believed that their failure to complete the race had cost them the championship but disappointment turned to elation when they discovered at the prizegiving that they were indeed the 2009 ASKO Appliances South Island Endurance Champions.
Once the dust had settled it transpired that the Carters, Scott O'Donnell of Invercargill and the Christchurch based team of Dale and Dennis Chapman were all tied on 182 points. A countback was employed to find a winner and while both the Carters and O'Donnell had each taken one victory and one second placing a further countback was used to separate them, the tightest of series finally going to the Carter pairing. O'Donnell had been in second place in the race when the clutch failed on his Porsche RSR after coming into the round equal on points with the Carter car.
Meanwhile the Chapmans had been consistent throughout the series and ironically could have taken the championship had it not been for a pitstop that went wrong during Saturday's race. Dale Chapman brought the BMW into the pits only to find Dennis was not ready. The resulting delay cost the team the championship as they finished 8th, 2.8 seconds behind the 7th placed car. Had they been able to gain one more place then the series would have been theirs. To further demonstrate how close it was Bruce Davidson/David Garden in their Chev C5 Corvette were just one point behind the tied trio. Series secretary Chris Dunn summed if up perfectly when he said the series was "tight coming into the round and even tighter as they came out of it!"
However it was difficult to deny the Carter team. They were on track to blitz the race records for laps covered at both Teretonga and Ruapuna during the series only to be thwarted on each occasion. At Teretonga the race was shortened after a crash and of course at Ruapuna they failed to finish. Ironically, despite their late race retirement at Ruapuna, they still covered one more lap than the eventual winners. The brothers were also under the Endurance lap records at every circuit in practice and qualifying.
Several drivers had arrived at the final round with a chance of taking the overall series but the two main protaganists were the Falcon V8 Supercar of Matt/Dwayne Carter and the Porsche RSR of Scott O'Donnell, paired again for this round with Andy Neale of Christchurch. The Carter's and O'Donnell arrived at the finale with 182 points each and the anticipation of a showdown was further increased when the two cars qualified side by side on the front row, the Falcon on pole and the Porsche alongside.
From the rolling start the Falcon, with Dwayne at the wheel, romped away to a huge lead looking to build a gap to allow for an extra pitstop. Scott O'Donnell was chasing in second place although the Porsche was suffering from a slipping clutch. The Porsche was in the pits after 22 laps, and although it returned to the race briefly it retired soon after due to the problem.
Already out at that stage was the Wadsworth/Croft Commodore, a seized oil pump ending its race after just 7 laps.
Behind the Falcon and initially, O'Donnell in the Porsche, there had been some good racing between the Corvette of Bruce Davidson/David Garden, the Lindsay O'Donnell/Mark Dwyer Porsche GT3, Cliff/Knighton, Craig McDermid/Evan Thomas in the Toyota Levin and Allan Dippie/Stephen Grellet in another Porsche GT3. Lindsay O'Donnell worked his way through to third ahead of Grant Williams in his Mazda RX7, the leader of the one-hour race. McDermid/Thomas were next ahead of Davidson/Garden, Cliff/Knighton, Dippie/Grellet, the Chapman BMW and Good/Black. The Lindsay O'Donnell Porsche was second after the demise of his nephew Scott's car while
McDermid/Thomas had a stint in third followed by Davidson, Cliff and Dippie. Cliff climbed his way to third place soon after while Dippie too was climbing his way through the pack.
The Toyota of Patrick Heagney/Scott McDermid began blowing smoke at around the 30 lap mark and eventually retired with a gearbox problem.
On lap 44 Carter put two laps on the Lindsay O'Donnell Porsche before pitting shortly after at the 1 hour 8 minute mark. Matt Carter took the wheel and the Falcon retained the lead. Meanwhile the good run of McDermid/Thomas came to an end due to a wheel bearing problem.
At the halfway mark came a flurry of pitstops. Lindsay O'Donnell was one of the first to stop, handing over to Mark Dwyer. Then the Davidson/Garden Corvette took their stop followed by Dippie/Grellet and Cliff/Knighton. When the order settled Carter still had a healthy lead from Cliff/Knighton, Davidson/Garden, Dippie/Grelllet, Chapman/Chapman, Lindsay O'Donnell/Mark Dwyer, Good/Black, Matthew O'Donnell/Lee Dwyer, the McFarlane Toyota Altezza and Chris Adams/Dave Stewart.
The Matthew O'Donnell/Lee Dwyer BMW was out with a broken halfshaft after 71 laps while Lindsay O'Donnell/Mark Dwyer had the Porsche climbing again to be in third after the two hour mark behind Carter and Cliff.
The race looked set to run its course but the final drama awaited the Carter Falcon. The Cliff/Knighton Porsche crossed the line for an unexpected win followed by Lindsay O'Donnell/Mark Dwyer and Good/Black. Dippie/Grellet were fourth followed by Angus & George McFarlane with Davidson/Garden in sixth.
The Carters also won the ASKO Appliances GT Class while the Southern Finance Class 1 (3501cc & over) went to Davidson/Garden. The Chapman's had the Hagley Building Products Class 2 (2001-3500cc) sewn up prior to the final round while another BMW, that of Good/Black won the Burnside Contractors Class 3 (0-2000cc). Ken Sinclair/Dennis Ham won the McFarlane Group Class 4 for cars of 0-1600cc.
The ASKO Appliance One Hour Race Series, which has been run in conjunction with the 3 Hour Series, went to Dave McLean of Gore from Stu Black of Dunedin.
The Williams/Buist Mazda RX7 took the Southern Finance Class 1 (3501cc & over) title while the Classic Porsche 911 SC of Roger Carter won the Hagley Building Products Class 2 (2001-3500cc). McLean took the Burnside Contractors Class 3 (1601-2000cc) title while the McFarlane Group Class 4 (0-1600cc) went to Stu Black.
The 1 Hour race had seen the Mazda RX7 of Christchurch pair Grant Williams and Brent Buist take victory by 2 laps from Jeremy Grice of Christchurch in his Subaru Legacy. Dave McLean of Gore was third in his Honda Integra earning him the overall 1 Hour Series. Stuart Black of Dunedin was fourth in his Toyota Starlet followed by Graham Rhodes/Paul Rickerby of Christchurch in a Mazda RX7 and Nelson's Dougal McGibbon in a Toyota Starlet.