No repeat of last seasons early success for Harrison and his GT8R at New Zealand GT opener

Monday, January 16, 2023


It was to be an eventful but sadly unrewarding opening round of the 2023 New Zealand GT Championship for Stephen Harrison after three fast and furious opening races at Highland Park at the weekend.

Thanks to an increased grid of over twenty Cup and GT4 cars, last year’s GT4 runner up was left smarting from avoidable contact during the weekend’ opening one long hour race after rear quarter contact from the #22 Mercedes AMG GT4 left the Race Lab prepared Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT8R with a popped drive shaft joint which cost him time in pit lane for repairs to eventually finish P17 overall.

The first thirty-minute sprint race could have been the same as a spinning Ferrari Cup car narrowly avoided the rear of the yellow #78 car as the race would enter a lengthy Safety Car period for its recovery. Running P14 ahead of the stop, Harrisons shorter BoP mandated minimum pit stop time did allow him to make up for lost ground to come out as high as seventh overall to eventually finish eighth overall (P4 in class at the end).

Sundays final thirty-minute race was again effectively shortened in race distance with an immediate Safety Car after two Porsche’s contacted, shooting one into a nearby gravel trap at a vast rate of knots. Again, early places taken after the restart allowed Harrison to move up to eighth from his P13 starting position to come out of the pit window in fifth with little over ten minutes remaining.

Sadly for the Englishman abroad, the gap back to the charging Porsche Cup cars wasn’t enough to avoid them swallowing him up in the closing laps for him to round off the opening weekend in eight overall.

The next round of the four round championship will see them run at Hampton Downs at the start of February.

Photo credits – GT NZ
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