Less than a week after the first Hampton Downs 101, circuit owner Tony Quinn was reflecting on an outstanding weekend of racing after 18 months of hard work.
“We had a great weekend and the feedback from the teams, drivers and motorsport fans was overwhelmingly positive,” said Quinn. “The Gods must have been smiling down on us because we had three days of dry, warm weather after a very wet winter. I’m looking forward to the Highlands 101 now. Highlands to me is like going home. We’ve hosted the Highlands 101 for the last three years so we know what we’re doing. I hope we get a big, big crowd to enjoy the Australian GTs because they put on a great show at Hampton Downs.”
Australian pairing David Russell and Roger Lago were the first names on the Hampton Downs 101 trophy after Russell kept his cool to overtake South Auckland’s Graeme Smyth in the closing laps in front of thousands of spectators.
The scene for a great Sunday afternoon’s racing at Hampton Downs was set up with a pre-race grid walk which saw the fans soak up the atmosphere on the start/finish straight. That was followed by a stirring rendition of the national anthem by actor Temuera Morrison and a haka for the 24 drivers lined up on the start/finish line.
When the racing got underway David Russell and Roger Lago, who started the race in pole position after winning the Top Ten Shootout on Saturday afternoon in the Lamborghini R-EX, opened up an early lead on the field. Matthew Simmons, the former Australia Post courier driver who got his break in motor racing by winning the Nissan Playstation GT Academy in 2015, took over from Michael Caruso in the Nissan Nismo GTR GT3 after the first compulsory pit stop 30 minutes into the race. Simmons and the Nismo were looking in good shape until the young Australian went into the back of a tail-ender and the resultant steering damage forced them out of the race.
The lead changed hands a number of times in the mid-section of the race with the pairings of Nathan Morcom and Grant Denyer, John Martin and Duvashen Padayachee and Peter Hackett and Dominic Storey, taking turns at the head of the field. Denyer led the race before he pitted on lap 74 and his co-driver Morcom came out in second just behind the unlikely leaders, Peter Edwards and Graeme Smyth.
Smyth, a fabricator from South Auckland and his co-driver Edwards, who owns the Ferrari 458 GTS and began his motorsport career doing track days with Maranello Motorsport in Melbourne, started from 20th on the grid but steadily made their way through the field.
The pair opted for an early pitstop strategy and as several of the more fancied drivers struggled they slipped under the radar to take the lead on lap 74. They held a lead of over 20 seconds at that stage but a safety car just 11 laps from the end proved to be a game changer. Smyth’s lead of 14 seconds was cut to nothing and Russell piled on the pressure to force a mistake and sneak down the inside of Smyth’s Ferrari on lap 97 to claim the win.
On the last lap Smyth’s day went from bad to worse when he was denied second place after a collision with Nathan Morcom. The incident left the Smyth stranded in the middle of the circuit with a DNF next to his name while Morcom and Denyer had 30-seconds added to their race time. It meant the championship leaders ended the race fifth, with John Martin and Duvashen Padayachee in second and Garth Tander and Daniel Bilski claiming the final podium position.
Klark Quinn and drifting star Mike Whiddett ended the race eighth, one spot back from Peter Hackett and Dominic Storey who ruined their chance of a race win with a pitstop penalty.
Greg Murphy raced his way to a top ten finish with Tony Quinn, the pair’s Aston Martin delayed by an incident when the Christopher Mies and Tony Bates Audi suffered a puncture on lap 67. Father and son duo Andrew and George Miedecke were also caught up in the incident, their Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3 taking minor damage which proved sufficient to end their race.
Local pairing Clark Proctor and Andrew Porter put in a fine performance in their first competitive outing in the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3. Consistency throughout the course of the 101-lap encounter saw them end the day in a solid eleventh place, the highest placed New Zealand entry in the event.
Morcom and Denyer continue to head the standings as the Australian Endurance Championship now heads to Highlands Motorsport Park for the traditional end of season Highlands 101 on November 13. It will mark the fourth and final round of the 2016 season, and the first time the Highlands 101 has been a championship event since its inception in 2013.
HAMPTON DOWNS 101
|1||Lago / Russell||2:48:19.522|
|2||Martin / Padayachee||4.024||2:48:23.546|
|3||Bilski / Tander||5.945||2:48:25.467|
|4||Talbot / Fouracre||29.484||2:48:49.006|
|5||Denyer / Morcom||35.789||2:48:55.311|
|6||Bates / Mies||1:28.253||2:49:47.775|
|7||Hackett / Storey||1 lap||2:48:27.145|
|8||K.Quinn / Whiddett||1 lap||2:48:34.766|
|9||Samadi / D’Alberto||2 laps||2:48:27.771|
|10||T.Quinn / Murphy||2 laps||2:48:37.145|
|11||Proctor / Porter||2 laps||2:49:08.046|
|12||Deitz / McConville||3 laps||2:48:29.609|
|13||T.Koundouris / Marshall||3 laps||2:49:13.872|
|14||Ellingham / Miles||3 laps||2:49:14.844|
|15||Richards / Twigg||4 laps||2:48:35.115|
|16||Chester / De Veth||9 laps||2:48:51.568|
|17||G.Taylor / Antunes||13 laps||2:48:25.932|
|DNF||Edwards / Smythe||2:46:49.290|
|DNF||Griffith / Perkins||2:46:11.839|
|DNF||Moore / Longhurst||2:29:27.844|
|DNF||Macpherson / Shiels||2:00:32.673|
|DNF||G.Miedecke / A.Miedecke||1:49:08.521|
|DNF||Simmons / Caruso||1:14:58.643|
Zade Quilter November 3, 2016
Posted In: News