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Christchurch’s Danny Whiting had co-driven his Porsche 991 GT3 to victory in his first race following a successful battle with cancer.
Tim James, of Auckland, had patched his Porsche 911 GT3 together following a crash in practice — with some help from friends — to achieve a runner-up result in his debut race meeting driving the car.
Alexandra’s Bruce Davidson scored a local coup "driving the wheels off" his home-built Chev Corvette C6R to place third, his first podium at a major race meeting in this car.
The hard luck story of the race belonged to Jarrod Owens, of Christchurch, who took a commanding lead in the first 10 minutes of the race in his Porsche 997 GT3. The car’s throttle stopper then came loose leaving him with an unruly machine.
"One minute I’d have not enough revs —and the next minute I couldn’t slow the car down," he said.
Owens pitted early and "jumped out and fixed" the problem himself, aided by his team, and powered back out to finish fourth.
Race winner Whiting took the wheel for the first 15 minutes around the 4.1km track before handing over to professional driver Andy Knight. His classy drive enabled the duo to claim a particularly poignant win.
Whiting said he had been "crook all year" with blood cancer. Now recovered, he was happy to share the Porsche with Knight, whom he has known for many years.
"I wouldn’t trust many people in the car but he’s one I would," Whiting said.
James credited two Mainlanders for lending him Porsche parts — Whiting contributed a front bumper and Invercargill’s Scott O’Donnell provided a radiator — to fix his damaged car.
"If it wasn’t for our southern mates, we wouldn’t have been racing," he said.
A Highlands member, it was his first time racing the car and his ear-to-ear grin summed up how much he enjoyed the new Porsche.
"It was extra, super good," he beamed.
Post-race, Davidson was sprawled across his Corvette’s spoiler, face beetroot red but he was also sporting a huge smile.
"Holy s...," he repeated several times, before proclaiming that he was "rapt" with his third placing and class win for 3500cc+ cars. The temperature had reached 65degC in the Corvette’s cockpit, Davidson’s overalls were drenched and he reckoned investing in a cool-suit might be a good option.
"It was good fun mixing it with those Porsches," he said, panting.
For Davidson, the result was payback for several years of reliability issues after his car was built by a bunch of mates in an Alexandra garage. They toned down the 6.2L, LS3 fuel-injected Chev engine to 550hp and installed a New Zealand made TT Industries six-speed sequential gearbox, all of which has contributed to a trouble-free season.
Grant Aitken was fifth overall in his Porsche GT4 and fellow Queenstown driver Barry Moore had a strong run in his VW Golf GTi to finish sixth and win class 2 (2001cc to 3500cc).
Wanaka’s Gary Ponting was 12th overall in his Honda Civic and won class 3 for 0 to 2000cc cars.