John McIntyre and Inky Tulloch have taken back-to-back North Island Endurance series wins after claiming todays 3 Hour race at Pukekohe Park Raceway, in turn giving them the 3 hour Championship win!
The South Island duo headed into the weekend with a slim 7 point lead over the V8 SuperTourer Prototype of John De Veth and Glenn Smith but confirmed why they were on top of the points standings when they claimed pole position this morning followed by the 3 Hour race win.
Tulloch had seemed to struggle with the SaReNi Camaro GT3 during his stint as it was his first time driving the new Pukekohe Layout.
A few cautions and some smart strategies set up a exciting finish to the race after the Trass Family Motorsports Ferrari 430 Challenge car (which was being used instead of the faster 430 GT3 car as it blew an engine on Friday testing) of Jono Lester and Graeme Smyth took the lead at the half way point in the race.
“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.”
With an hour remaining a caution was thrown allowing McIntyre, now in the car, to set up a chase to the TFM Ferrari of former V8ST and Endurance Racing team mate, Jono Lester. Lester’s lead, now 54 seconds, was a big margin for McIntyre to catch although he would be assisted as Lester would restart amounts traffic after making a pitstop.
McIntyre and his “Sledgehammer” smashed their way through to a 8 second gap to the car in front with 25 minutes to go and a few laps later had caught the back of Lester.
Eventually the pass for the lead was made in Dramatic style by McIntyre has himself and Lester drove across the mountain on either side of a Lapped car.
A late caution have Lester a final chance to grab the win at the restart but the straight line speed of the GT3 Camaro was no match for Lester’s 430 Challenge as McIntyre soon reclaimed the lead on the straight.
McIntyre went on to claim the race win with a seven second margin and that was enough for the Tulloch Motorsport team to take the championship win!
De Veth and Smith rounded out the podium and gave them second place over all in the championship after a steady run in the series.
“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.”