INTERNATIONAL MOTORSPORT SEASON ENDS ON A HIGH Jono Lester and Jody Vincent made sure International Motorsport finished the MotorSport New Zealand Tier One season of racing in the Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge on a high note over the...
INTERNATIONAL MOTORSPORT SEASON ENDS ON A HIGH
Jono Lester and Jody Vincent made sure International Motorsport finished the MotorSport New Zealand Tier One season of racing in the Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge on a high note over the weekend, with the GT3's racing as part of the support category line-up for the Hamilton 400.
Lester won the points score for the weekend, while Vincent took victory in the final race around the streets of Hamilton.
From early on in the race weekend, Lester marked himself as one to watch after qualifying his Blackwoods Paykels GT3 in second place for the first race around the maze of streets in Hamilton's Franklin district.
Lining up alongside five-time Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Champion Craig Baird, Lester made a strong start and kept pressure on Baird throughout the twelve lap Race One. The two drove away from the pack with Lester holding his second place over the line, just over half a second behind Baird as the chequered flag was waved.
Lester continued his momentum into Race Two with another second place, before starting the reverse-top-six grid of Race Three from fifth place after recording a time just two tenths of a second slower than Baird. Consolidating on the strong work earlier in his weekend, Lester kept his car clean to score fourth place but more importantly the overall weekend points victory for the non-championship Hamilton 400 weekend.
Jody Vincent's weekend didn't start with as much gusto as team-mate Lester's, after qualifying his Koken Tools GT3 in sixth place. However he did work his way forward to fifth after jumping Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup new-comer John McIntyre off the start line in Race One.
Race two proved to be a rough affair for Vincent, the Pukekohe driver electing to make a mid race pit-stop after his engine temperature rose above normal levels. With the issue fixed, Vincent was back up to full speed, coming home in seventh place, but importantly setting the sixth fastest lap time in the race, which put him on Pole Position for the reverse-top-six grid in Race Three.
Heading into the first corner of the final GT3 race of the weekend, chaos started early with Craig Baird out braking himself into the first corner, then damaging his suspension exiting the first turn. Vincent made the most of his Pole Position to drive away from the field in a dominant performance, ending what has been a sometimes challenging season with a race win.
Qualifying was strong for Palmerston North based young-gun Ant Pedersen, lining his Volvo Construction Equipment GT3 up in fourth place on the grid in Race One. Pedersen also jumped slow starting McIntyre in Race One, driving a clean race to third place.
Problems started in Race Two however, with a broken driveshaft exiting the first corner side-lining Pedersen. After starting Race Three from the back of the grid, a spirited drive from Pedersen allowed him to recover to fifth place by race end.
Qualifying didn't provide the result Mark Russ was hoping for in the Castrol GT3, placing eighth on the grid. With places to make up, Russ put his head down, but also fell foul of a broken driveshaft mid way through the first race of the weekend. Russ recovered to finish fifth in Race Two, staying out of trouble while other drivers ran into problems.
Third place in Race Three was the highlight of the weekend for the Auckland driver, after putting serious pressure on second placed driver Daniel Gaunt.
The only International Motorsport driver taking on 'double duty' at the Hamilton 400 was Darryn Henderson, who not only raced his Radio Sport GT3 in the Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge, but also in the GT1 category. With a tight schedule at times, Henderson's weekend was an up and down one. The Wellington driver secured third place on the grid for the first GT1 race, and ninth place on the grid for the GT3 Cup.
A drive through penalty in the first GT1 race dropped Henderson back to twentieth place, and revealed a problem with his car's clutch which prevented him from starting the first GT3 race. Mechanical issues prevented Henderson from taking part in any further racing action on Saturday, however the International Motorsport crew got to work to make sure the Radio Sport car was back on track for Sunday.
After what was meant to be "one lap to make sure the car was OK", Henderson started the second GT1 race of the weekend from the pitlane, and drove through the field to secure fifth place after some exciting overtaking moves. After Saturday's issues, Henderson was also forced to start from pitlane in the third GT3 Cup race, however he was unlucky in being caught up in the aftermath of incident that claimed Craig Baird, puncturing his radiator and forcing him out of yet another race.
With International Motorsport drivers claiming two of the three places on the podium for the weekend, the team heads into the off-season with a positive mood, as focus now turns to preparations for the 2009-10 season.