Tulloch Motorsport takes top Kiwi prize at Highlands 101

Highlands 101 Tulloch teamThe weekend’s Highlands 101 race at Cromwell delivered the ultimate result for Mataura’s Inky (Ian) Tulloch and Nelson’s John McIntyre – finishing first Kiwi team home in a field overflowing with Australian GT competitors.

Adding more silverware to their 2015 season of endurance car racing using the German built SaReNi Reiter Camaro GT3, the wholly New Zealand based team were elated to finish with the lucrative title. It is the second successive time they have done so.

Against high specification GT cars contesting the only New Zealand round in the Australasia series, the team had to thread their car in to a mix of professional drivers for the three-hour race.

For team owner and driver Inky Tulloch, it was the overcoming of adversity in the early stages of the race that made the victory so much sweeter: “While we were surprised how much better the cars were at the track this year it was being competitive and coming back from losing so much time at the start of the race that made the win special.

“Consistency was a big factor at getting us that result too – keeping to our plan and working as a team. We were racing with the absolute very best cars and teams Australasia has to offer. The team, across our New Zealand campaign, has learned to expect absolutely every scenario.”

“That was our strength,” said driver John McIntyre “That we’ve now spent a season together as a team competing at endurance events – and dealt with so many scenarios. Even though it was our only event at Highlands for the year we still had a lot of learning to do in a little time. It’s a real commitment track and having a team that works so well together makes tackling the challenges so much easier.”

Of the 31 starters the team finished 14th overall, against a line-up that included race winners Shane van Gisbergen and Kark Quinn driving a McLaren 650S GT3. Many of the leading cars were of the later FIA GT3 specification, including the winning car, the Audi R8 Ultra of second placed Christopher Mies and Ryan Millier, plus the Roger Lago and David Russell Lamborghini, in fifth.

Adding a twist to the typical race start scenario at the starter signal the team’s second driver runs a pre-set distance to the car and has to remove a tethered ribbon before the car can leave.

“At the signal I did the run to the car, and even passed some people as I got closer. By the time I got to the car I had too much momentum and at the first grab missed the ribbon. Thinking I had the ribbon the team unfortunately gave the signal for Inky to go, as I reached for a second grab it was too late – the car was gone,” explained McIntyre.

Incurring a drive-through penalty a second handicap was delivered when, on cold tyres, Tulloch spun the car coming on to the front straight – narrowly missing the trackside concrete walling.
Then swamped by the faster GT cars muscling past it took a number of laps before Tulloch got a clear run to begin a quiet campaign and unleash the potential of the car.
The team elected to pit for the driver change on the 47th lap. Finding a problem with the in-car jacking system they pitted again shortly after for the tyre change and a fuel top-up.

“That ended up being a very smart decision later in the race and while I had to conserve fuel for a few laps it meant we were in a strong position for the finish – particularly when there were a few safety car periods. Not needing to pit in those latter stages meant we didn’t lose any further time and I could really press on – particularly with the fuel level being in our favour.

“We played out our endurance race tactic to get to the end of the race – being there to collect that first Kiwi title,” added McIntyre.

“We treated it like the endurance race that it was and were happy with the car – it was the strongest run we’ve had all season – it ran faultlessly from the first session right through to the end of the race – like a well-built German clock.”

Sunday’s result added to the 2015 North Island Endurance race the team won in July – collecting victories at both ends of the season.

Pukekohe JM TullochEndurance title win for McIntyre and Tulloch at Pukekohe

Winning today’s three-hour endurance race at the Pukekohe Park Raceway cemented the overall 2015 North Island Endurance race title for Nelson’s John McIntyre and Southland’s Ian (Inky) Tulloch.

Heading a field of 36 cars the Tulloch Motorsport German built Sareni Reiter Camaro GT3 ran to a precise plan – including the winning margin of 4.81sec.

Completing 142 laps of the 2.91km circuit came with numerous challenges the team had to overcome.
Noise restrictions resulted in a late change to the circuit configuration – a pill readily accepted by the teams’ ahead of the afternoon race start. That on top of the Tulloch team working through to 2am re-readying the car to be noise compliant added spice to the intensity of competition.

Tulloch started the race and encountered four safety car periods during his stint before handing over to McIntyre after the half-way mark.

“Fact is Inky stretched the car’s fuel out past where I could complete the race without needing to stop,” said McIntyre. “The one-stop strategy gave us the best chance at being competitive at the finish without needing to take risks.”

Needing to finish ahead of the reliable and potent DeVeth/Smith V8 SuperTourer prototype car to take the series title, the Tulloch Motorsport team kept their race strategy in play despite a late safety car period that bunched up the field behind them.

During the closing laps the dash to the line came with increasing sun-strike, interspersed with cars struggling to make their way round the track.
“It was a risk game I had to minimise the odds on – so I dropped the pace to improve our chances of finishing.”

Winning by a margin of 4.81sec over the Ferrari 430GT of Lester and Smyth, their title rivals finished third.

“Today was a hard-fought result,” said McIntyre. “Getting the race win against such world-class machinery while driving such a special car was a real buzz. Although it really sank in when I got back to the team and could see what it also meant to them – all of them – that we had won the title.

“It was a tough series with hard competition – and we overcame all of that as a team.

“Every race we had lots of challenges – it was never straightforward. And I believe it was the team’s unity that gave Inky and I our best shot at winning.

“Today highlighted how critical it is to finish every race if you want a shot at the title. It is a classic age-old scenario.

“Endurance racing is here to stay and if you’re going to be successful you have to have a good car and a good team.”

Multiple New Zealand champion Tulloch was humbled by the team’s results across the three-round season.

“Our highlight was being competitive against some of the best GT cars in the world. Against Ferrari’s, many late specification Porsches, 2015 Audi R8’s and a Mosler - we out qualified them all and beat them all. While our car is far from perfect you measure things by results.

“We had to overcome a lot of adversity and while the car gave us an equal opportunity to run in the series I think to be fair the team work was pretty seamless. They are all there for that common purpose – it was fun for them. It has been a long time since I’ve been in a team like that.”

McIntyre also picked up on the attention adorned by a swelling fan base: “People see these cars in racing games and on TV – as the elite and cars to aspire to – and here we are, racing them in their backyard. It is starting to get peoples interest – to see what they awe at in the virtual world here in the flesh. It is definitely a new era of racing here in New Zealand.

The pair will return to competition in September for the three-round South Island version – the driving force behind the success of the North Island series.

Victory for McIntyre and Tulloch at Hampton Downs three-hour race

JMR at Hampton Downs

Nelson’s John McIntyre and Southlands Ian (Inky) Tulloch claimed an Australasian first today at Waikato’s Hampton Downs motor race circuit by winning the three-hour endurance feature.

Driving the Tulloch Motorsport German built Sareni Reiter Camaro GT3 car the pair claimed a lights-to-flag result, finishing 40 seconds ahead of an Audi R8 and endurance specification SuperTourer. Only three Reiter Camaro’s exist in Australasia and today’s result is the first race win for the purpose built car.

The second of three rounds for the 2015 title, today’s win and the opening round second placing puts McIntyre and Tulloch at the top of the series standings.

“Absolutely stoked,” said McIntyre, who started the race at the front of the 39 car field.
“It was special to be the first to get a win in this GT race car.
“We had to work hard all day against some tough competition and came through with a faultless performance.”

Rain early in the day left the track damp for the race qualifying session. Swapping times with a debuting Mosler car McIntyre snared the fastest time at the end of the 30 minute session – setting a time 1/10second quicker.

Due to the large number of cars starting the race the field was held under yellow caution conditions until the lead car got to the fifth turn.
“It made the start of racing very safe and emphasised how critical it was to be that front car if you wanted to win.

“Our plan for the race was to sprint for the first two hours and get as much of a lead as possible so at the driver swap Inky could focus on getting to the finish first by a comfortable margin.”

Effecting that plan, a safety car period while they were a couple of laps ahead then negated the team’s gains. Back to a margin of three laps at the pit stop driver swap Tulloch quickly settled in to a race winning pace as the remaining hour un-wound.

Regarded as New Zealand’s toughest circuit for brakes the Camaro started to run short of stopping ability in the closing minutes. A close call just prior to the finish allowed the second placed car to close to within a lap.

Taking the finishers flag first the Tulloch Motorsport crew cheered as reality sank in at what the team had achieved.

For McIntyre the car’s reliability allowed him to focus on setup gains in a quest to produce an even quicker car.
“We’ve got a much faster car this weekend compared to the opening round. As the competition is heating up we need to get even more from it.”

The top ranked team has four weeks until the third and final round for the season. The final race will be held at Pukekohe on Saturday 25 July.

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