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Whittaker and Gould win respective One-Hour races in South Island Series opener

Matt Whittaker (Porsche GT3 Cup 992) has won a dramatic Class 2 & 3 One-Hour race while Rhys Gould put on a flawless performance to win the separate Class 4 & 5 race at the opening round of the 2023 Carter’s Tyre Service South Island Endurance Series in Christchurch on Saturday.

Having qualified in sixth, Whittaker made the most of opportunities that unfolded as his Class 2 (GT Type) and 3 (>3,501cc) race developed. Initially, for over half the race, a battle ensued between Nick Chester (Marc GT) and fastest qualifier Jarrod Owens (Porsche Cup 991.2MR) with Whittaker, Adam Julian (Audi R8 GT3) and Seb Manson (Porsche GT3 Cup 991.2) settling in behind.

A safety car period, as a result of a coming together of Manson and Jordan Michels (Marc II Mustang), saw the leaders dive into the pits for their compulsory stops. While they initially emerged in their previous order, slower traffic played its part giving Whittaker the opportunity to first overtake Owens and then pressure leader Chester. Contact between them saw Chester retire from the race with Whittaker taking over the lead which he held until the checkered flag.

“Thrilled with that,” commented Whittaker. “I always had the speed if I hustled the car but I was just using too much tyre so the boys got on the radio and told me to calm down. These cars are really good. We didn’t have a great qualifying so not a good indication of where we are at.”

Owens unfortunately made a mistake taking to the dirt and dropping to fourth overall. Hodson took over second and defended his position from Julian who eventually had to defend his third spot from a hard charging Owens.

“Absolutely thrilled with the result, particularly for a Gen 1 car” said Hodson. “We’ve got the smallest (Porsche) motor in the field and it wasn’t looking great from the start qualifying in eighth. But really cool to get the result. I was just running my own race and having to defend a lot at the end.”

“It’s still learning for me, the first race meeting in this car since the (Porsche) 997,” said Julian. “We know the car is fast, now it is a matter of race craft and fitness on my part. Jarrod (Ownes) is a much quicker driver so pleased to take the podium and the points.”

Joel Giddy (Mercedes Benz AMG GT4) finished in ninth overall, winning Class 3 (2001-3500cc) from James Paterson (Audi R8 Turbo) with Steve Scoles (Ginetta G56) third.

In the separate race for Class 4 (2001-3500cc) and 5 (0-2000cc), previous series race winner Rhys Gould (Hyundai i30N TCR ) drove a flawless race to come home first in Class 4 and overall. Strategy, speed and an error-free drive saw him win by over 25 seconds to Barry Moore (VW Golf TCR) with rookie Pel Arnott (Hyundai i30N TCR) third.

“Pleased with the win,” commented Gould. “Started from the back due to a gear selection issue earlier in qualifying, so real happy with the result.”

Both Gould and Moore along with several other competitors elected to take their compulsory pitstop early under the second safety car period, dropping down the field. This left Arnott to lead for most of the race from Cole Askew/Grant Askew (VW Golf TCR), Scott O’Donnell (Hyundai i30N TCR), Warren Black (Audi RS3 LMS TCR) and Russell McKenzie (BMW M3).

With no more safety car periods the pack was shuffled around as pitstops took place eventually seeing Gould take over the lead with Moore in second. What could have been a battle of the win, Moore’s chances were dented with an off-track excursion.

“I think there was oil on the track as one of the other TCR’s went sideways,” said Moore. “I went completely sideways and ended up bouncing over the gravel and hitting the tyres. It’s a shame as I was having a great wee battle with Rhys (Gould).”

The Class 5 (0-200cc) win went to Chris Wall (Honda Civic) ahead of Donovan Isted (Honda Civic) and Rhys Turner (Honda Civic).

The second of three rounds take place 23 September at Teretonga Park in Invercargill.

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