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Three hour endurance result hangs in the balance amid protest

Winter motor racing can be unpredictable at the best of times. Saturday’s (almost) three-hour opener of the ENEOS North Island Endurance Series at Hampton Downs delivered a little of everything — fast-changing weather conditions, multiple lead changes, strategic intrigue and some controversy.

What the entertaining race didn’t have late on Saturday afternoon was a confirmed result.

Five different teams led the race and there were nine lead changes. Much of the shuffling came in the opening 20 minutes with teams guessing and second-guessing tyre choices following a rain shower just before the start. During the early laps an inspired tyre choice became a tactical miscue in the space of five minutes.

One team to play the long game was the Gilbertson JMR Porsche 911 MR of Simon Gilbertson and John McIntyre which had qualified fifth[pictured above], just off the dry weather pace of the full-house GT3 cars and Kiwi V8 specials.

While teams swapped tyres in the opening laps Gilbertson stayed out, trod carefully when he needed too, made time when he could and skilfully managed the Porsche up to second place as the rain came and went. That became the race lead when Chris Hanley had to stop with a flat left rear tyre on the leading Holden Commodore he was sharing with Simon Evans.

With 1 hour 25min completed there was a well-timed safety car and Gilbertson pitted from a lead of just over 20secs. After the pit-stop shuffle the race went green again with Evans in front having taken over the Commodore from Hanley.

With a dry line evolving Evans edged away. A quicker approach was shown by fourth-placed Commodore VZ Supercar of Nick Chester and Cameron Jones. They were the first of the quick cars to swap to slick tyres and immediately began lapping almost 5secs quicker than the leaders.

With just under 75 minutes remaining there was a safety car and the leaders dashed into the pits and made the switch to slick tyres.

The skies lightened and darkened but the rain stayed away and the track was close to dry with teams able to lap just a touch off qualifying pace. In these conditions Evans had a 1.5secs per lap performance advantage and twice built a comfortable lead only to have it reduced again by safety car interventions.

With 30 minutes left to run Evans led by 30secs from McIntyre with Chester and Jones just over a lap down in third place and battling with Brendon Leitch and Christina Orr-West in the ITM Mike Racing Mercedes SLS GT3.

The penultimate safety car came out with 19mins remaining and the restart came with McIntyre trailing by 3secs. But a look to the sky suggested the weather would have one more intervention.

Rain arrived with 13 minutes left on the clock and McIntyre made a dash for the pits and wet weather tyres. A lap later it was already torrential when Evans dived for the pitlane. It was scruffy stop that saw him overshoot on the wet concrete apron before the car was rolled back and wet tyres fitted.

McIntyre’s stop had been much quicker and put him into the lead. But there was chaos on-track with cars in the gravel traps at at least three corners. First the safety car was deployed and moments later the race was red-flagged with nine minutes remaining.

Then the confusion began. Initially the Gilbertson JMR Porsche was parked in the winner’s position having taken the chequered flag.

Provisional results posted at 134 laps showed Evans and Hanley ahead of the Porsche by a margin of 5.9secs. The Gilbertson JMR team immediately filed a protest based on the chequered flag being shown at 133 laps when they held a lead of 10.5secs and the timing data is to be officially reviewed this week.

Chester and Jones were one lap back in third while a late-race drive through penalty dropped Leitch and Orr-West a further lap down to take fourth. The Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Neil Foster and Jonny Reid had shot to an early lead then made two early pit stops and fell as deep as 16th place. They climbed back to finish fifth, three laps down on the winners while the SaReNi Camaro GT3 of Glenn Smith and John de Veth completed the top six.

Round two of the ENEOS North Island Endurance Series is at Pukekohe on Saturday June 16.

Provisional race results, overall top 10*

1. Simon Evans/Chris Hanley —134 laps
2. Simon Gilbertson/John McIntyre +5.912
3. Nick Chester/Cameron Jones + 1 lap
4. Brendon Leitch/Christina Orr-West + 2 laps
5. Neil Foster/Jonny Reid + 3 laps
6. Glenn Smith/John de Veth + 5 laps
7. Michael Neville/James Kutia + 6 laps
8. Simon Sceats/James Kirkpatrick + 6 laps
9. Hayden Johnston/Damon Jackson + 9 laps
10. Bryan Symes/Lochlan Fitzgerald/Symes + 13 laps

McIntyre brings Porsche power to Nelson

JMR Porsche

Nelson racing driver John McIntyre will present the 2016 991 GT3 Porsche to sponsors and supporters at Nelson's MS Ford prior to the first race of the South Island endurance series at Invercargill.

Nelson motorsport driver John McIntyre has a new race car – a 2016 Porsche 991 GT3.

While racing at Germany's Nurburgring ten years ago, McIntyre visited the headquarters of Manthey Racing to marvel at the company's development of Porsche racing vehicles.

He is now just days away from racing its 2016 Porsche 991 GT3 Cup MR model at the South Island Endurance Series in Invercargill.

"I never imagined I'd be racing one of their cars in New Zealand, that's for sure," he said.

McIntyre races for Gilbertson JMR and team owner Simon Gilbertson bought the car from specialist European Porsche Team FACH Autotech. FACH Autotech had previously taken Kiwi Earl Bamber to the Porsche Supercup title.

One of only two in New Zealand, the car recently arrived from Switzerland where it had has already raced and won the Porsche Cup race at the Monaco Grand Prix.

"The first drive we had in the car, it's kind of a pleasant surrounding to be in from a race car point of view – It just does things very nicely."

"Being a factory-built race car [Manthey Racing] make a lot of the base cup cars – hundreds of them each year, so you know it's done right."

McIntyre said there had been a number of modifications required to get the Porsche ready for endurance racing in NZ because of different rules here.

As well as cooling systems for body and helmet, some telemetry and GPS sensors had also been installed to get more information out of the car.

"It's a lot of small things that add up to quite a bit ... a huge amount of work and not a lot of time for testing," McIntyre said.

Prior to the first race of this year's South Island Endurance Series in Invercargill, McIntyre will present the car to sponsors and supporters at Nelson's MS Ford on Monday evening.

"MS Motors and Talley's have been my longest-serving sponsors – 18 years and counting – not many race cars come through Nelson of this calibre, so I thought we'd bring it through and get a bit of attention and show it off."

McIntyre said while an opportunity for a joyride was unlikely, he hoped those coming would be interested in the intricacies of the car or the driver aids crucial to long stints behind the wheel.

"The car will only just get into the showroom in regards to how low it sits – you'd probably take the cat's eyes off the centre of the road if it was there."

"Unless they've been lucky enough to go for a ride in a race or hot lap situation, it's really hard for people to comprehend the g-forces, heat and concentration [while racing] – you're always moving one part of your body."

McIntyre will then transport the vehicle to Invercargill for two days of testing before racing on September 9.

McIntyre hoped the Southland leg would provide him with a successful return to driving Porsches, three years since his last race in the sports car.

"It should come back to me pretty easily – it's easily the fastest Porsche I've driven – it's always exciting to be going faster than slower as you get older."


Homecoming for champion McIntyre and Tulloch Team

Tulloch team 2016It will be a homecoming for now Nelson based driver John McIntyre who returns to his home circuit of Manfeild near Feilding for the season’s final round of the three-hour North Island Endurance Race Series, in the Tulloch Motorsport Camaro.

Joined by Hawke’s Bay based Simon Gilbertson for Saturday’s 23 July title decider, it will be the first time the pair will race the German built SaReNi Reiter Camaro GT3 at Manfeild – the circuit where McIntyre began his multi-championship winning career.

“It will be fastest car I have driven there,” says McIntyre. “Of all the cars I’ve raced at Manfeild the Tulloch Motorsport Camaro has the most horsepower and grip – I can’t wait. It’s been an honour to have the opportunity to race alongside Inky (Ian) Tulloch and in his absence it is our quest to turn this opportunity in to a result at a place I know so well.”

The then Hawke’s Bay based McIntyre made his racing debut 26 years ago at the age of 13. McIntyre says Manfeild is a circuit that will suit all types of car.

There are 32 entered to the three-round endurance championship series. McIntyre and Gilbertson won the opening round at Taupo, and clawed back to finish third in the previous round at Hampton Downs.

“The Camaro will be hard to beat on the three straights at Manfeild whereas the likes of the lighter-weight Audis will have an advantage under braking. So the racing will be very very close and I predict the title will be won or lost in the strategy decisions around the pit stops. Each driver must drive a minimum of one hour and a maximum of two, so the aim is to stop only once in the three-hour long race.”

McIntyre last raced at Manfeild in 2012 – in the JMR V8 SuperTourer.

“In the first race of that weekend we came home in second place behind Jonny Reid – the winner of the previous endurance race at Hampton Downs (Audi R8). So Jonny and I have a bit of history that I’m keen to reverse at Manfeild – particularly since we are now tied on overall points.”

Sitting at the top of the table alongside Reid with 181 points, McIntyre highlights the third placed car (Ferrari) isn’t far behind.

“There is a lot at stake and it’s more than just being the fastest car. With so many cars on the track all at different speeds the first focus is on finishing,” added McIntyre.

The race is to start at 1pm (admission is FREE) with the season champion to take the chequered flag at 4pm.

Schedule SATURDAY 23rd JULY

9.45 – 10.05am: Qualifying for 1 Hour Race
10.15 – 10.50am: Qualifying for 3 Hour Race
11.00am: One Hour Race Starts
12.00pm: One Hour Race Finishes
1.30pm: Three-hour race start
4.30pm: 3 Hour Race Finishes

How to follow;
LIVE Timing; www.race-monitor.com

JMR Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/JMR47/

Tulloch Motorsport is supported by Active Electrical as naming rights sponsor, plus Waterloo Business Park Christchurch, Talley’s, USG Boral, Castrol Edge, Energizer, Phillips and Schneider Electrical also join the team for the new season.

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