Motorsport: 'Owner, promoter, winner'

Aussie V8 Super Car driver Shane Van Gisbergen pushes the limit in his Ford Falcon during the...
Aussie V8 Super Car driver Shane Van Gisbergen pushes the limit in his Ford Falcon during the South Island Endurance Series three-hour race at the Highlands Motorsport Park on Saturday. Photos by Gregor Richardson.
Winning the feature endurance race - the just over three-hour Highlands 101 - at his own track yesterday was a fitting end to the weekend for Highlands Motorsport Park owner Tony Quinn.

Not bad for a man who describes himself as a ''someone who runs a company but drives pretty handily'' and who held myriad roles over the three-day debut race meeting at the Cromwell track.

• Slideshows: Motorsport at Highlands: Day 2Motorsports at Highlands: Day 3 

''Current owner, event promoter, category shareholder, a competitor and a winner,'' he quipped on the podium.

Quinn shared the driving of his Aston Martin Vantage GT3 with Australian V8 Supercar driverFabian Coulthard, a Kiwi, and led for the final 25 laps to beat a trio of Australian drivers in an Audi R8 - Rod Salmon, Liam Talbot and Jason Bright - by 34.103secs.

Australian Ferrari 458 pairing Peter Edwards and racing legend John Bowe were third.

Next best of the New Zealanders was Greg Murphy, driving with Australian motorsport commentator Neil Crompton, in the Highlands McLaren MP4-12C, who finished fifth. The first all-Kiwi pairing were young guns Andrew Waite and Simon Evans, who took sixth in the International Motorsport-run Highlands-owned Aston Martin Vantage GT3.

The first major casualty was for top qualifiers Craig Baird, driving Klark Quinn's Porsche GT3 R. He was 64 laps into the race and passing a slower car through the tunnel when the car moved over into him, causing Baird to hit both sides of the tunnel and extensively damage the Porsche.''

It was a pretty simple accident, one that shouldn't have happened'' a disappointed Baird said afterwards. Dunedin's Allan Dippie had a scare five laps later, scraping sideways along the pit lane wall hard enough to force the retirement of the Porsche GT3 Cup S he shares with Invercargill's Scott O'Donnell.

A safety car period meant his tyres had gone cold and, upon restart, he was jostled between an Aston Martin and a Ferrari and exited a corner half a metre ''wider than I wanted to be.''

''It was a big hit,'' Dippie, who was shaken but unhurt, said.

He had just moved into ninth before the accident on his 69th lap.

Otago drivers who completed the race were Grant Aitken, in 18th, co-driving his Toyota 86 with Aucklander Mike Eady, and Dunedin's Paul Coghill and David Hunter, who were 20th out of 21 finishers in their Honda Civic Type R.

The entry list for the Highlands 101 was not known until late on Saturday when the fastest 42 cars from Saturday's races had the option of contesting the race.

As expected, the Australian GT Championship cars, racing in New Zealand for the first time, dominated the front of the field with 16 of the exotic cars in the entry list.

Seventeen of a possible 26 cars from the one-hour and three-hour South Island Endurance Series fields elected to enter, making a 33-strong starting grid.

Each team had to make two compulsory pit stops and at least one driver change; all had to refuel and most changed tyres.

The Le-Mans style start which required co-drivers to sprint 250m to their stationary car and release it with the starting driver safely harnessed in the car, set the scene for an exciting and extraordinary 101-lap race for the 12,000 spectators yesterday.

Highlands 101
Top 10

1. Tony Quinn/Fabian Coulthard, Aston Martin Vantage GT3, 3:02:04.471 (Australian GT)
2. Rod Salmon/Liam Talbot/Jason Bright, Audi R8, +34.103 (AGT)
3. Peter Edwards/John Bowe, Ferrari 438 GT3, +1:20.977 (AGT)
4. Andrew Taplin/Dean Canto, Ferrari 438 GT3, 1 lap (AGT)
5. Greg Murphy/Neil Crompton, McLaren MP4-12C, 1 lap (AGT)
6. Andrew Waite/Simon Evans, Aston Martin Vantage GT3, 1 lap (AGT)
7. Rick Armstrong/Matthew Hamilton, Porsche GT3, 2 laps (South Island Endurance Series SIES)
8. Angus McFarlane/Michael Bushell, Porsche GT3R, 3 laps (SIES)
9. Dean Koutsoumdis/Andrew McInnes, Audi R8 LMS, 4 laps (AGT)
10. Simon Ellingham/John McIntyre, Porsche GT3 997, 4 laps (SIES) 

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