Motorsport: Tulloch Motorsport take first endurance race

John McIntyre and Simon Gilbertson take out the Mahindra 3 hour Endurance Race. Photo / John Cowpland
John McIntyre and Simon Gilbertson take out the Mahindra 3 hour Endurance Race. Photo / John Cowpland

Winning Saturday's first of three races for the 2016 North Island Endurance Race Championship is now reality for Southland's Tulloch Motorsport team and their German built SaReNi Reiter Camaro GT3.

Held at Taupo's Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park the majority of the three-hour race was held behind the Safety Car as a thick blanket of fog affected visibility. Emerging to take the chequered flag first team drivers John McIntyre (Nelson) and Simon Gilbertson (Hawke's Bay) worked to a strategic plan - set by team owners Ian (Inky) Tulloch and his wife Annette.

Starting from pole position after dominating the earlier held qualifying session, Gilbertson led the field behind the Safety Car. At exactly one-third of the way through the race he pitted to a strategy McIntyre credited to being the race winning move.

"During that hour Simon had to keep the tyres warm, brakes warm and use minimal fuel to reduce time spent refuelling - just in case there was a break in the weather and the racing started," said McIntyre.

Taking his turn behind the wheel, McIntyre said the speed at which they changed positions was their edge.

"About two hours 20 minutes in the weather lifted enough we got into racing and it was having that quick stop done that meant we had a time bonus."

What followed had those present riveted to the action of the two front runners of McIntyre and V8 champion Simon Evans.

"Simon and I had a see-saw battle - it was fantastic racing. We had multiple passing moves on each other plus working around others racing; add the variable visibility and it really made it exciting.

It really caught people's attention - the hard, fair and clean racing - we really had to work for it."

Lasting for just over 20 minutes McIntyre was focussed on getting a gap on the chasing Evans.

"Our strategy was simple; we had to factor our fuel and pit stop plan would keep us in the lead when and if the fog returned and the Safety Car came out."

That is exactly what happened. With 14 minutes remaining and deteriorating visibility the Safety Car brought racing to a halt and led the field to the chequered flag at the three hour mark.

"The race officials did the best job at coping with the conditions and allowing racing when it was safest.
For us it was the ultimate result. It was an earned result from a pole position start and the best way to begin our title defence.

"As a team it hands Inky and Annette the trophy they set the operation up to achieve - so has a lot of meaning to me, to be able to deliver that as a team."

The series second of three rounds will be contested at the emerging Hampton Downs circuit in three weeks' time. It is the venue where McIntyre and Tulloch scored their first win in the car last season.

- NZ Herald

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