First race podiums for the Race Lab AMR Vantage GT8R's in the Super GT NZ Series

Monday, January 24, 2022

The second round of the Super GT New Zealand took place at the weekend from the Mike Pero Motorsport Park and marked a distinct contrast in racing and racing fortunes for the mixed GT4, Cup and GT3 field.

After the something of a ‘crash-fest’ of the opening weekend last week from Highlands Park, it took something of a stern talk and dressing down from the series Driving Standards Officer to convince the remaining field of drivers arriving at the Ruapuna circuit of the need to respect others on track and give all racing room.

Thankfully that did the trick as the twenty-four grid went from Free Practice and into Qualifying for the two half hour races and the latter headlining hour long finale for an otherwise clean weekend. Both the Race Lab Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT8R’s were again competing with Shaun Helms and Stephen Harrison taking charge of the #77 and #78 cars respectively.

After some adjustments to the series BoP defining mandatory pitstop (the faster you are the longer you wait in pit lane) had things teetered up for a great finish in the opening half race on Saturday afternoon as the #77 car of Helms was perfectly placed to score his first class podium finish in P3 after brake failure for one of the Porsche GT3 lead to that race being red flagged on the final lap.

Sunday morning’s second half hour race was almost a wash out as heavy rain flooded from the sun hardened infield and onto the track. Starting again from the midfield, both Astons struggled in the conditions for this time Harrison to come home first between them in P4 with Helms just behind in P6.

Luckily for the hour-long race, the rain had passed and the track had dried although temperatures remained lower that those at the start of the meeting. 

Again the widened pit window allowed the twenty four cars to run their own race with many of the faster GT3 car electing to pit earlier than you would have otherwise expected and that allowed the GT4 runners to move to the front of the pack with certainly the two Astons picking up a two minute advantage.

With Helms assuming the race lead and Harrison not far behind in P3 with just twenty minutes remaining, it was to be a close-run thing to the flag with the faster cars closing in at a vast rate of knots. Unfortunately upon the penultimate lap, a large pack of tail enders was enough to distract Helms at the hairpin for him to spin off and into the midfield.

Whether he would have had the pace to take the overall race win we will never know but they gap to their peers behind was enough for the Race Lab crews to take P1 and P2 in the GT4 Class.

The third of the four round series will be on the North Island at Hampton Downs in mid-February.

Photo credits – SuperGT NZ
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