ROGER LAGO and David Russell have won the Hampton Downs 101 in a thrilling conclusion to New Zealand’s new GT enduro.
The Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour regulars won a thrilling race ahead of John Martin / Duvashen Padayachee Porsche 911 and Grant Denyer / Nathan Morcom in a McLaren 650S GT3.
Russell benefited from a late-race Safety Car to catch and pass the Maranello Motorsport Ferrari – driven by Kiwi Graeme Smyth and Peter Edwards – in the closing laps of the race to take a stunning victory in their JBS Lamborghini Gallardo.
Smyth clung to second until the final lap when he and the Tekno McLaren, driven by Morcom, clashed at the hairpin – allowing Martin through to second in the Porsche and leaving the Ferrari stranded at the hairpin as the race ended.
The win was one of the biggest for the small Brisbane-based Lago outfit.
“I’m so happy for what is a very small team. The boys work extremely hard and I’m more happy for them than us driving it,” Russell beamed.
“They put in all the time. Roger and I have been chipping away and for us this is a big win. I’m so happy to get out. we got lucky with the Safety Car to bunch everyone up, but them’s the breaks!”
Lago watched the tense closing stages from the pit lane as Russell chased, caught and ultimately passed the leading Ferrari once the Safety Car – for the stricken Miedecke Stone Motorsport Aston Martin – was called.
“I didn’t think they’d bring it out. We got a drive through and still won the thing. It’s unbelievable – it’s the best race we’ve ever done and the best we’ve ever had. Awesome drive by Dave – he’s the best!”
Daniel Bilski and Garth Tander combined to finish fourth in their JAMEC-Pem Racing Audi R8 LMS. Liam Talbot / Jake Fouracre (Audi R8), Tony Bates / Christoper Mies (Audi R8), Peter Hackett / Dom Storey (Mercedes AMG GT3), Klark Quinn / Mike Whidett (McLaren 650S GT3) and Ash Samadi / Tony D’Alberto (Audi R8) were amongst the other leading finishers.
The Australian GT Championship / Australian Endurance Championship runners conclude their season at the Highlands Circuit on the South Island in two weeks time.
PHOTO: Hampton Downs Facebook Page