New Zealand's new Super GT Series season opener unfortunately blighted with track incidents and accidents

Sunday, January 16, 2022

The new for 2022 Super GT New Zealand Series kicked off its opening meeting of their four round season this weekend from the picturesque Highlands Park Circuit on the South Island.

Competing amongst the confirmed twenty-seven car, multi-class grid were two Aston Martin Racing GT8R race cars from the Race Lab team with solo drivers Shane Helms and Steven Harrison behind the wheel of the #77 and #78 cars respectively.

Starting in the southern hemisphere’s mid-summer season, temperatures were just into their thirties as the team prepared for Free Practice and Qualifying before the first thirty-minute round on Saturday, another on Sunday morning before an hour long race to round things off later in the day.

Due to the grid make up of GT4, Porsche Cup and a few GT3 cars, the balance of performance between the classes was to be via each races compulsory visit to pit lane – not necessarily to change drivers as most cars were single drivers, but to recover time between the fastest and the slowest on track. The faster you were – the longer you sat in pit lane making for a sprint – enforced short break – sprint racing scenario.

All great in theory but unfortunately the nett result was probably not what the race organisers had first intended as Saturday’s first raced was scratched from the results after multiple incidents (thankfully non serious for the driver) lead to it not fulfilling its 75% race distance criteria for it to be called a result by the Stewards after it was red flagged due to an incident.

Sunday morning’s second half hour race did at least reach another un-natural conclusion after yet more multiple Safety Car required incidences blighted the racing with another distance shortened race. In that race, Harrison however was able to be listed as finishing P5 overall with Helms further back in P16.

Then again later on Sunday, the headline one hour race suffered something much the same after multiple Safety Car interventions and red flags soured and curtailed what should have been a great race. Whether that was all down to the characteristics of the circuit and/or drivers been slightly green from their elongated winter/COVID restricted break we might only find out when the series moves onto the Mike Pero Motorsport Park Circuit next weekend for another three races.

If nothing else, the two Aston’s looked great in the sunshine!!

Photo credits – Super GT NZ

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