Malmezac / Lester Take Open Class Round Win, Cremer / Liefting Claim Honours in GT4
Heremana Malmezac and Jono Lester have taken the round victory in the Open Class of the Golden Homes GT New Zealand Championship at Highlands Motorsport Park today, while the pairing of David Cremer and Jason Liefting took the honours in the GT4 class.
Joining the Porsche of Lester and Malmezac on the Open Class Podium for the round saw Marco Giltrap second, and Rick Armstrong third – also in Porsche’s.
The GT4 round podium saw Jono McFarlane in a Mercedes AMG second, with Grant Aitken third in his Porsche Cayman.
Earlier in the day, the 23-car field tackled a 30-minute race, where the victors were Paul Pedersen in his Porsche winning the Open Class, while Jono McFarlane took a second victory for the weekend aboard his Mercedes AMG.
It was drama for the Porsche of Paul Southam late in the race however, making heavy contact with a concrete wall on the straight after turn nine – the incident was investigated post-race. The damage to the Porsche severe enough to take the car out for the rest of the weekend.
The final and third race of the weekend saw Marco Giltrap from pole, with Jono Lester starting in second.
From the start Lester took the lead, while there was trouble behind when there was high speed contact between Luke Manson and Rick Armstrong. The contact caused the front right tyre on Manson’s Porsche to deflate, sending him into the gravel trap. A safety car was called, condensing the field while they recovered the stricken Porsche.
With a number of laps on under the safety car, racing got underway again, and with the pitstop window opening on lap 6, most of the leaders elected to pit, including Lester and Giltrap.
With the Porsche of Lester having to serve a 50-second compulsory pit-stop, it was a hard fought battle to reel in the leaders, before eventually passing Liefting and Aitken who were battling at the front. Lester making the pass with two laps to go, going on to win the race by 17-seconds.
Liefting made a last lap move on the Porsche of Aitken to clinch victory in GT4.
For Lester, it was two victories, having also won Saturday one hour race, partnering with Heremana Malmezac.
“I love those traffic type of battles, that we get in this kind of series with multi class racing. That is one of the positives of a compulsory pit stop and making things fair, is getting you there and to race. There wasn’t a lap there where I wasn’t peeling back, I had a minute to claw back,” said Lester.
For Liefting, the win capped off a great weekend, having finished second yesterday in the 1-hour race partnering David Cremer.
“That was really hard work. Grant is a hell of a battler around here, he knows all of the tricks at this place, super hard to pass. It was a good battle.”
In reference to some controversial comments on social media about the parity in the series, Liefting responded by stating that the racing on track had delivered.
“Anyone who says it doesn’t work, hasn’t watched enough of the racing.”
The next round of the Golden Homes GT NZ Championship round will be at the New Zealand Grand Prix event at Hampton Downs on February 3-5.