Kitching's team wins South Island 800 at Levels

Only one of three Toyota Levins survived to the finish for winners of the South Island 800,  Phil Gurney, Paul Booth and ...
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Only one of three Toyota Levins survived to the finish for winners of the South Island 800, Phil Gurney, Paul Booth and Andrew Kitching.

Timaru's Andrew Kitching got through a couple of potential disasters to win the inaugural South Island 800 at Levels.

Kitching, with team-mates Phil Gurney and Paul Booth, won the 8-hour endurance race on Saturday by just over a lap.

They started the race with three Toyota Levins but finished with only one, but still managed to get home courtesy of a touch of luck.

The winners of the South Island 800 were (from left) Phil Gurney, Paul Booth and Timaru's Andrew Kitching.
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The winners of the South Island 800 were (from left) Phil Gurney, Paul Booth and Timaru's Andrew Kitching.

Kitching said it was nerve wrecking at times.

"At the end of the second stint the car came in piling smoke out the back, which meant the the rings were done.

"The next car lasted 10 laps before the clutch was destroyed but Phil managed to coast home from the end of the back straight.

In fancy dress for the Le Mans style running start to South Island 800 are (from left) Rex Edgar of Cromwell, Jeff ...
JOHN BISSET/FAIRFAX NZ

In fancy dress for the Le Mans style running start to South Island 800 are (from left) Rex Edgar of Cromwell, Jeff Poulter of Christchurch and Sam Harrison of Ashburton.

"I'm not sure how he managed it to be honest and we had to run to the top of pit lane to push him in."

Kitching said if the car hadn't managed to glide back to the pits that would have been the end of the day for the team.

"The only car we had left was Paul's with about 3 millimetres left on the brake pads, so that wasn't the best way to go out."

Pleasant Point's Ben Barlow in his Toyota Levin is hot on the tail of Mark Denton of Christchurch in a BMW 320.
JOHN BISSET/FAIRFAX NZ

Pleasant Point's Ben Barlow in his Toyota Levin is hot on the tail of Mark Denton of Christchurch in a BMW 320.

Kitching said his only slight disappointment was only getting one stint in the car.

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"That's just the way it worked out. The beer and wine still tasted pretty good afterwards."

Booth, the 2K Cup champion, finished the race with double stint, for the winners including a hot fuel stop.

Chris Dunn dropped the flag for the running race to the cars.
JOHN BISSET/FAIRFAX NZ

Chris Dunn dropped the flag for the running race to the cars.

His team managed the quickest lap of the day, a 1 minute 16.2 second effort on lap three, while the second placed team surprisingly put in their best effort on lap 296.

Kitching said he met his team mates through the 2K Cup competition and they decided to get together for the endurance races.

It was their second go at the 8 hour endurance race having travelled to Hampton Downs last year.

Timaru's Vaughan Moloney is his Toyota Trueno. Moloney's team finished seventh from the 18 starters.
JOHN BISSET/FAIRFAX NZ

Timaru's Vaughan Moloney is his Toyota Trueno. Moloney's team finished seventh from the 18 starters.

Second place went to Fairlie's Tony Johnson, Pleasant Point's Ben Barlow and Ed Harrison from Ashburton, all also driving Toyota Levins.

Team BMW, including 81-year-old John Cottier from Amberley, were third, two laps down. 

Due to the Timaru International Motor Raceway's resource consent, which stops racing at 5pm, the 800km race had to be called off four laps early, with winners completing 329. 

South Canterbury Car Club spokesperson Chris Dunn said it was a fantastic day.

"It was really clean and tidy with 17 of the 18 teams finishing, with just the one retirement.

"I didn't think the winners were going to get the car back after the clutch problem but they had just enough momentum. I guess the cards fell their way." 

Dunn said there were only two yellow flags for the day and one of those was to deliver lunch to the marshalls out on track safely. 

A Le Mans style start got the race underway, with a number of the drivers opting to wear fancy dress, before tagging their team-mate suited up the car.

 - Stuff

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