Thrilling opener in GT New Zealand Championship at Taupo
The Summerset GT New Zealand Championship has seen a thrilling opening race of the season at Taupo this afternoon, with Ayrton Hodson taking the win in the Open Class with Brock Gilchrist winning in GT4.
The Open Class podium was rounded out by the Porsche of Luke Manson with Rick Armstrong also in a Porsche third.
In GT4, Joel Giddy in a Mercedes-AMG was second with the Ginetta of Steve Scoles third.
With rain falling across the circuit for most of the day, the start of the race saw Armstrong starting from pole with Hodson alongside.
Gilchrist was further back in the field, with the pole for the GT4 runners.
On lap one, there was an early spin for Paul Southam in a Porsche on the approach to turn four.
With tricky conditions getting worse throughout the race, the pitstop cycles began at the 20-minute mark. Leader Armstrong one of the first to make his compulsory stop.
Re-entering the race, he had a spin at turn one a lap later while battling the wet and tricky conditions.
With 25 minutes to go, the leader was Hodson, followed by Manson and Armstrong.
The GT4 Class was lead by Gilchrist, Giddy and the BMW of Garth Piesse.
Back at the front of the field, the battle for the lead started to heat up, with Armstrong making a move on Manson to take second, then gradually closing in on Hodson who was around d 3.5 seconds in the lead.
With 10 minutes to go, Armstrong made his move, to get by Hodson. Only to see Hodson fight back a corner later, taking back the lead.
From there Hodson was in defence mode, holding off a much faster Armstrong.
Passing some back markers, and looking to close in on the back of Hodson, Armstrong locked his rear tyres, sending his Porsche into a spin, and sitting stationary on track for a few moments. Allowing Manson to sneak through into second place.
Hodson going on to take the win from Manson, with Armstrong recovering to finish third.
For Hodson, his debut in the championship couldn’t have gone any better.
“It was definitely tough out there. You had to be so patient, especially battling Rick. We didn’t have the straight line speed of his car, and had to work really hard to keep him behind me positioning my car as best I could,” said Hodson.
“Great way to start the season, two more races tomorrow which will be tough, but if it’s wet, it should even the playing field again.”
For GT4 winner, Brock Gilchrist, he was thrilled to get his first win aboard the Giltrap backed McLaren.
“I really enjoyed it, and adapting to the conditions. Car felt amazing, over the moon to win the first race,” said Gilchrist.
“I probably over heated my tyres a little to start with battling with some other cars, so ahead of tomorrow probably just need to refocus a bit more and not battle so hard.”
The Summerset GT New Zealand field, have two 30-minute races tomorrow.