Steele Wins Open Class / Bawden Wins in GT4 in GT New Zealand opener
Rob Steele has crossed the line first to win the Open Class in the Golden Homes GT New Zealand Championship, with Todd Bawden crossing the line to win the GT4 class aboard his McLaren 570S – in what was a drama filled 30-minute encounter at the Hampton Downs circuit.
The Open Class podium was rounded out by the Ferrari of Wayne Leach in second, with the Porsche of Marco Giltrap coming home in third.
The GT4 Class podium saw the Porsche Cayman of Grant Aitken second, with Brent Forman in a McLaren third.
The race action packed from the offset, with pole sitter Kieran Doe getting swamped at the start, slipping back a handful of positions, allowing Marco Giltrap to take the early lead, with Rick Armstrong slotting into second.
GT4 Polesitter, Stephen Harrison was forced to start from the back of the grid, a penalty for not wearing his balaclava during qualifying. This gave McFarlane the immediate lead of the race, and with the drop of the green flag started building a healthy lead in the GT4 class.
With the compulsory pitstop window opening after 10-minutes, some of the leaders began making their pitstops, albeit before the safety car came out to recover the stricken Porsche of Regan Scoullar, who had run off the track and became stranded in the gravel.
After a handful of laps under safety car, the Porsche of Luke Manson lead the field away on the restart, before making his stop shortly after.
There was a wild moment for Paul Pedersen who spun in the middle of the track at turn one. Francois Beziac having a lucky moment, just clipping the stricken Porsche of Pedersen, and himself ending up on the grass, managing to re-join.
Further back in GT4, class leader Jono McFarlane found himself out of the lead, and beached in the gravel trap, overshooting a corner and becoming stranded. This handed the race lead to Bawden, and elevating Aitken into second, and Forman into third.
Back at the front of the field, Steele had clawed his way to the front and held a healthy lead over the Ferrari of Wayne Leach, with Marco Giltrap in a Porsche closing fast which is how they finished once the chequered flag fell.
The top five of Open Class was rounded out by Rick Armstrong, with Paul Pedersen finishing fifth.
The Top five of GT4 was rounded out by Joel Giddy in an Aston Martin with the Ginetta of Allan Sargeant in fifth.
The Golden Homes GT NZ Championship have a one hour race tomorrow morning, with a further 30-minute race in the afternoon.