Motorsport: Fairytale finish for Kiwi ends in disaster at 101

By Matthew Hansen

Graham Smythe drives the Ferrari at the Hampton Downs 101. Photo / Matthew Hansen
Graham Smythe drives the Ferrari at the Hampton Downs 101. Photo / Matthew Hansen

A clash with Nathan Morcom on the last lap of the Hampton Downs 101 saw a fairy-tale podium finish slip out of Kiwi Graeme Smyth's reach; with the move currently under the eye of officialdom.

"I was just trying to defend my position and just hang onto second. Just driving defensive; I was driving the inside line, [and] you're allowed to do that on the last lap," Smyth said to Driven.co.nz.

"I don't really know what to say, to be honest. It's not really on, but what do you do."

"I was struggling a little bit with the car, but you're allowed to defend. I was in no place to challenge for the lead, I'd already lost that.

"Then, half-way around turn nine I was getting on the power to get out, and next minute I'm turned around and I'm facing the wrong way."

Smyth and co-driver and car owner Peter Edwards emerged as leading contenders mid-race after the final pit cycle, holding a lead of more than 20-seconds over their nearest rivals.

"We didn't qualify very well, which was partly because of car set-up and partly on my behalf.

"We tuned it up a bit, and knew we had a good car for the race. We managed to get back up into the top 10 for that stint. Handed over to Pete, and he did a great job. He was on the money.

"We had some safety cars and stuff with the CPS and what not play into our favour, but I think everyone just did an awesome job."

Smyth's pace appeared strong enough that he would be able to maintain the race lead to claim a maiden race victory in the series, but a safety-car in the closing laps erased his margin and placed the quickest driver/car combo of David Russell and the JBS Lamborghini Gallardo on his tail.

"If we didn't have that last safety car, we would've been in for sure. I was just maintaining the gap. It was only really changing through traffic, and without the safety car we would've come through with the win, no worries.

"David Russell, he qualified on pole and was rocket-ship fast, and he's good in everything he drives. I knew I was going to be up against it. I gave it a good crack, [and] he actually got through because I made a mistake."

The spin was capped off by subsequent contact that gave Smyth's Ferrari terminal damage that saw it unable to complete the final lap and record a race finish.

It was only Smyth's second race meeting of 2016, after he took a sixth-place finish at the Phillip Island 101 earlier in the year with Tony D'Alberto. Last year the young Kiwi, who works as a fabricator at SMS Fabrication, had the opportunity to win both the Phillip Island 101 and Highlands 101 with Trass Family Motorsport and Jono Lester, but was denied both times.

"There are a lot of positives to take out of it, but it's hard to look at those at the moment.

"The car is an old 2014-spec car, and we're racing against a lot of current cars. But at the moment I'm just devestated.

"Again, I can't seem to get a break in a 101 - I'm sure it'll come one day, but today was going to be that day."​

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 30 Apr 2017 08:10:39 Processing Time: 526ms