Christchurch driver pairing Paul Kelly and Kevin Bell made it two from two when they won the second round of the 2011 ASKO Appliances South Island Endurance Series at Powerbuilt Raceway at Ruapuna in Christchurch on Saturday
After a hard fought victory at Teretonga in the opening round a week ago the duo backed up with a good drive on their home circuit in their Porsche 997 GT3. The closest challenge came from a new addition to the field, the Ferrari F430 driven by Craig Innes of Taupo and Sam MacNeill of Palmerston North, the Porsche and the Ferrari engaging in virtually a nose to tail battle during the first hour of the race. As the race went on the Kelly/Bell combination managed to pull away and at the chequered flag the Ferrari, which had earlier been driven to second place in the One Hour race by its owner Tim O’Connor, was two laps behind the Porsche. Third, after a good performance, was the father and son combination of Mike and Seadon Baker. The Bakers actually led the race during the first round of pit stops in their Porsche 997 GT3 and finished on the same lap as Innes/MacNeill.
Gary Cliff/Hayden Knighton crossed the line fourth in their Porsche GT3 ahead of Paul Rickerby and Graeme Rhodes of Christchurch in their V8 powered Mazda RX7 followed by reigning series champions Allan Dippie and Grant Aitken of Otago in yet another Porsche GT3. The top ten was rounded out by Peter Van Eekelen and Kane Lawson (Porsche 996 GT3), Arron Black/Warren Good of Dunedin in a BMW E46, Bruce Davidson/David Garden of Alexandra in a Chev Corvette C5 and Cantabrians Brent Esler/Andy Neale in another BMW M3.
Kelly and Bell now lead the series with one round remaining on 180 points. Defending champions Dippie and Aitken are second equal along with Mike and Seadon Baker on 129 points. Rhodes and Rickerby are one point behind with Esler and Neale on 123 points.
Major casualties in the race included the NASCAR engined BA Ford Falcon of Dean Perkins and Grant Silvester which broke a roller rocker and the Lindsay and Matt O’Donnell Porsche 997 GT3 which went off the circuit late in the race bringing out a safety car. Phil Hood and Andre Heimgartner missed the start of the race due to axle and diff problems after qualifying an impressive third fastest in their Porsche GT3, the car emerging later to complete a small number of laps.
Scott and Craig McDermid of Blenheim were forced to step into the vehicle they planned to tackle the One Hour race in after suffering problems in qualifying while Allan and David McCormick of Ashburton (BMW), Stuart Black of Dunedin and Perry Scarfe of Australia (Ford Falcon Ute) and Timaru drivers Brent Beatson and Grant Waters (Renault Megane) also failed to finish.
George McFarlane and Geoff Ball of Christchurch completed insufficient laps to be classified in their Toyota Altezza while the Holden Commodore of Blenheim competitors John Wadsworth and Warren Croft tore a rear suspension mount in the warm up and finished at the back of the field.
Canterbury pairing Angus McFarlane and Michael Bushell were again non starters as they wait on parts to arrive for their hybrid twin turbo Porsche.
The victory also ensured Kelly/Bell clinched the GT Class for the second week in succession while in the 3501cc+ Class 1 the Teretonga victors Paul Rickerby/Graeme Rhodes took class honours again in their V8 Mazda RX7 ahead of the runners-up from Teretonga last week Davidson and Garden in the Corvette.
Dunedin drivers Arron Black/Warren Good took an exceptionally pleasing victory in the 2001-3500cc Class 2 after a heavy accident the previous weekend at Teretonga Park. They rebounded to finish eighth overall this week to head off last week’s class winners Brent Esler/Andy Neale.
The 0-2000cc Classes 3 & 4 featured a repeat by last week’s winners Steve Parker/Matt Jackson in the Honda S2000.
The ASKO Appliances One Hour Race was won by Grant Williams and Brent Buist in a V8 Mazda RX7. It was the first appearance of the duo in this years’ series but they were dominant and led all the way finishing a lap clear of Tim O’Connor in the beautiful Ferrari F430. Dougal MacGibbon of Nelson, who was forced to retire from the One Hour race at Teretonga Park a week earlier, bounced back this week to finish third, a further lap behind the Ferrari after a drive through penalty late in the race. Last week’s winner Stuart Black of Dunedin had his Toyota Starlet expire on the warm up lap while last week’s third placegetters, Lee & Jamie Hodgins, also of Dunedin failed to finish.
Paul Wright of Christchurch in a Porsche 996 GT3 qualified well and was prominent in the race until a late race pit stop dropped him to sixth at the end.
Grant Molloy of Invercargill who finished second last week and eleventh on Saturday now has the One Hour Series lead with 127 points, four clear of fellow Southlander Bradley Dawson. Ian Clapperton is next on 100 points followed by Black on 96 and MacGibbon on 90.
The third and final round of the series will take place at Levels Raceway in Timaru on 15th October, where the dash for the cash will be decided.
Thanks to Series sponsor ASKO Appliances as well as class sponsors Hagley Aluminum, Southern Finance, Burnside Contractors, Southern Demolition and Allied Petroleum / Mobil 1, the Series will have the richest prize money pool in NZ Motorsport, with $30,000- that will be paid out as prize money for 2011. With $10,000- up for grabs for the overall 3hr Series winners, the balance will be paid out on class points across both the 3hr & 1hr Series. As well as a cheque for $10,000- the overall 3hr series champion will be awarded the ‘South Canterbury Toyota Cup’ and there are also numerous other trophies, prizes and awards for the series. The Club has again been donated an original watercolor painting by High Country artist Norman Sinclair valued at approx. $10,000- which will be given away at the Series prize giving as a spot prize to a competitor in either the 3hr or 1hr Series.
Entries are still available for both the Three Hour and One Hour series’ and for more information on the South Island Endurance Series, entries, or to be added to the South Island Endurance Racing Drivers Club’s e-mailing list, please contact Chris Dunn via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org ph 021-107-9293. Club information can also be found on facebook at www.facebook.com/southislandenduranceseries, for more information on the series sponsor ASKO, please visit www.asko.co.nz