Armstrong and Gilchrist take respective class wins in opening GT New Zealand race at Ruapuna
Rick Armstrong has taken a hard fought win in the Open Class of the Summerset GT New Zealand Championship at Ruapuna this afternoon, while Brock Gilchrist in a McLaren 570S took another win in GT4.
The Open Class Podium was rounded out with the Porsche’s of Paul Southam in second, with local Christchurch racer Steve Brooks in third.
The GT4 podium saw the Ginetta G56 of Steve Scoles in second, with the BMW M4 of Garth Piesse in third.
The Mercedes AMG GT2 of Paul Pedersen went into the lead off the start, taking the lead spot from pole sitter Rick Armstrong.
Armstrong slotted into P2, with Joel Giddy in another AMG GT2 slotting into third. A lap later, Giddy made a bold move into turn four, taking the second-place spot.
Giddy then made his way into the lead, after the sister AMG of Pedersen appeared to have an issue, slowing, and losing a handful of places. The issue for Pedersen seemed to persist, with him pitting on lap seven, and by the time he re-joined, he was at the back of the field.
Behind in GT4, Gilchrist starts to build a considerable lead on the Mercedes AMG GT4 of James Sax.
At the 20-minute mark, the compulsory pit-stop window opened, and a handful of the front runners including Armstrong, Filmore, Manson and Brooks all pitted. As well as Pedersen who was further down the order.
GT4 runners began to make their stops, changing the order at the front of the class leading pack. With the GT4 runners completing their stops, it saw Steve Scoles leading with Gilchrist behind, and the BMW of Garth Piesse in third.
In the Open Class, Paul Southam found himself leading, a good turn of results considering he missed qualifying and started from the back of the field.
With the clock and laps ticking down, Southam’s lead started getting smaller, with a fierce battle behind between Armstrong, Manson, Scoullar and Brooks.
In GT4, Gilchrist was back into the lead followed by Scoles and Piesse, the order settling as the laps counted down.
With 10 minutes to go, Southam still lead, by 2.7 seconds from Armstrong and Manson. Who at this point in the race were lapping around three quarters of a second faster than the leader.
Southam’s lead came to an end however when a Safety Car was called on lap 35, the Porsche of Tony Austin stopping on circuit.
With under four minutes to go, the safety car lights were out, and the race restarted, seemingly for a two-lap dash.
Southam held his lead off the start and fended off a charging Armstrong for a lap.
On the last lap, Armstrong made a bold move into the hairpin at turn four, diving into the lead, and holding on until the chequered flag.
The Summerset GT New Zealand Championship have two 30-minute races tomorrow.