Misfortune of others cost Heart of Racing a win in North Island Endurance Series

Saturday, June 12, 2021


The penultimate round of the 2021 New Zealand North Island Endurance Series from the Bruce McLaren Motorsport Part in Taupo earlier has left the #52 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT3 crew of Darren Kelly and Alex Riberas with an “all or nothing” scenario as the Series heads to Pukekohe’s finale in two week’s time.

After having to settle for second place behind the #22 Audi last time out at Hampton Downs, hopes were again high for today’s race as the #52 car claimed pole position, five places ahead of the #22 car going into today’s three-hour race with both cars tied for the Championship lead on 185 points each.

Also in the race again was the AMR Australasia Vantage GT8R of Steve Harrison and Shane Murland after their unopposed class B win at Hampton Downs two weeks ago.

Despite this event being Kelly’s and Riberas’ first competitive visit to the circuit, Riberas was soon off into the sunset as others held themselves up around a twisty, tyre punishing circuit but soon throttled back to conserve those tyres for the full expected hour duration of his stint. In the meantime, the Reid/Foster Audi R8 had moved up from P5 to P3.

Pitting from the lead at the seventy-minute mark, Riberas handed over to Kelly for what would be his only stint of the race again, but the #22 Audi stayed out in an attempt to gain track position.

Just before the halfway mark, a sickening looking accident for a young driver within a brand-new McLaren 570s GT4 with apparent brake issues brought out an immediate Safety Car. Losing the best part of an hour whilst the safety barrier and debris was repaired, another two-car spin on the green lap race left a two-horse race to the flag for the #52 and #22 cars but with each owing a final stop.

With forty-two minutes remaining the #22 assumed the race lead whilst the #111 car continued at the head of the non GT3 classes and would go on to take another class win.

For the #52 crew and Riberas short on minimum drive time by just one minute, their final stop came with less than three minutes remaining but unfortunately the damage had already been done with the #22 Audi having looked after its tyres more than the Aston to create a big enough gap to retain the lead and ultimately, the race win.

This result has Reid and Foster take the overall lead outright with just one round remaining!

Photo credits – HoRT / NIES


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