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Impressive Porsche debut by Bewley in One Hour Enduro

Defending Toyota 86 champion Tom Bewley made an impressive debut in a Porsche GT3 at the final of the North Island Endurance Series at Hampton Downs.

The 16-year-old from Havelock North qualified his Dura-Seal sponsored car on pole and took the chequered flag in second place after an epic battle for the podium places over the closing laps.

Bewley’s drive was even more impressive after feeling unwell on race day and sitting out the first practice session. However, he bounced back to top the timesheets in the next session and then after a see-sawing qualifying session held in damp conditions, grabbed pole position in the final minute.

“I wasn’t feeling well at all in qualifying so it was definitely a bonus to get pole,” said Bewley.

With the cars on the front row starting the endurance race on a mixture of wet and slick tyres, Bewley’s Mackenzie Motorsport team opted for wets but it wasn’t long before the track started to dry and Bewley’s lead from pole soon evaporated as the slick tyre runners hunted him down.

“It was all about damage limitation and keeping the car on track until the 20-minute mark when the pit window opened.”

Luckily a safety car period came just before the pit window opened and when it did Bewley dived into the pit to have his Dura-Seal Porsche changed onto slicks. He then set about driving himself back into contention.

“It was the first time I’ve ever driven on a brand new tyre so I’ve still a lot to learn about that but I had an awesome battle fighting through to the front.”

Heavy rain returned on the last lap with Bewley putting in a gutsy drive to snatch second place on the run to the chequered flag behind two-time Hampton Downs endurance race winner Joel Giddy in a Mercedes AMG GT2 car.

“I had to make sure to keep the car on track and just tip toe my way around to the finish.”

The battle for the final podium positions were between Bewley and fellow former Toyota 86 young gun William Exton, both in Porsche 911 GT3 cars, who battled over position for much of the hour-long race.

Bewley, who is eyeing up a future in Porsche racing, said there was also a personal satisfaction seeing the gold and black GT3 on the podium for owners Raana and Lynnaire Horan, the parents of one of his best mates Brooklyn, who died tragically in February.

“First of all I can’t thank Raana and Lynnaire enough for allowing me to drive and to carry on what Brooklyn loved doing. They’ve had some tough months so I hope this brings a little joy,” said Bewley.

“I’d like to keep driving a Porsche if that’s possible and learn faster cars, aero and slick tyres. I’ve had a taste of it now and I really like it!”

A variety of make and models made up the twenty-eight cars that contested the third and final round of the 2024 NIERDC.

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