March 31, 2019
Porsche ace Matt Whittaker won the opening one-hour race of the ENEOS North Island Endurance Series in his last-gen Porsche 991, overcoming a solid challenge from Nick Chester’s monster Holden Commodore VX to take honours in the first round of this year’s championship at the Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Taupo.
It was advantage Chester in qualifying with the iconic Holden blasting round in an impressive 1.28.379 to eclipse Whittaker in his new charge by nine tenths of a second. At the start, however, and with both cars on full tanks, it was Whittaker and the red Porsche who took the initiative from the rolling start at turn one and led out of the corner after a brave lunge down the inside by Whittaker.
Chester was far from ready to give up however and having harried Whittaker for the entire first lap, he managed to muscle his way past don the straight after the duo had fought out the turn 11 sweeper side by side. From there Chester established a narrow margin before pitting for his compulsory pit stop, which allowed Whittaker to grab the lead back.
As the race entered its final few minutes, Whittaker was one of the last to pit, and with a great pit stop emerged from the pit lane still some seven seconds to the good ahead of Chester. The fight went all the way down to the flag, but try as he might and with traffic a constant challenge, Chester had to settle for second just five seconds away from winner Whittaker.
“I’m happy, very happy, but by we won that one by the skin of our teeth I think,” said Whittaker after the race. “We almost had a massive crash halfway through the race, and I’m pretty keen to go back and look at the video how we managed to save it. The car was a bit of a handful actually. I had a lot of understeer. We probably didn’t get the right set up for the race but we thought we’d try and tune it so it had plenty of rear grip, but it ended up being the front that was an issue.
“But it was a great battle. That thing is a beast and Nick is a great driver. It’s great to tussle with someone who has a great awareness of their surroundings. It was a lot of fun.”
An impressive third was Andy Duffin making his New Zealand endurance racing debut in his familiar flame-spitting triple rotor Mazda RX7, while Simon McLennan was fourth, having kept Duffin in sight for much of the early part of the race. Jarrod Owens completed the top five, after a great drive from the back of the grid.
Media release: Richard Gee
Photo: Matt Smith
ENEOS North Island Endurance Championship – One Hour – Round 1 Taupo Result
|1||Matt Whittaker||Porsche 991.2||Class GT B|
|2||Nick Chester||Holden VX Supercar||Class GT B|
|3||Andy Duffin||Mazda RX7||Class 1|
|4||Simon McLennan||Holden Commodore||Class GT B|
|5||Jarrod Owens||Porsche 997||Class GT B|
|6||Brian McGovern||Porsche 997||Class GT B|
|7||Blair McDonald||Holden Commodore||Class GT B|
|8||Sean Kirkpatrick||Porsche 997||Class GT B|
|9||Charles Rollo||Toyota AE86||Class 1|
|10||Darryl Clarke||Ford Falcon||Class 1|
|11||Todd Murphy||Hyundai i45 ST||Class GT B|
|12||Cam McCormack||Porsche 997||Class 1|
|13||Garry/Ben Derrick||Porsche 996||Class GT B|
|14||Brock Timperley||Ford Falcon BF||Class 1|
|15||B. Kirk-Burnnand||Ford Mustang||Class 1|
|16||Deon/Rick Cooper||Ssangyong Super Ute||Class 1|
|17||Wade Stevenson||Subaru Legacy||Class 2|
|18||Simeon Woolsey||Honda Integra||Class 3|
|19||Todd Foster||Toyota TR86||Class 3|
|20||Jake Stoneman||Ford V8 Ute||Class 1|
|21||Nick Archibald||Subaru WRX STi||Class 2|
|22||Pavlos van Aalst||BMW E30 M3||Class 2|
|23||David Rogers||Mitsubishi Evo X RS||Class 2|
|24||Simon Ussher||Ford V8 Ute||Class 1|
|25||Cullern Thorby||BMW 318Ti||Class 2|
|26||Stuart Monteith||Holden V8 Ute||Class 1|
|27||Brendan Murphy||Holden Commodore||Class 1|
|28||Paul Verryt||Honda Integra||Class 2|