A world-class field is headed to Hampton Downs as the CAMS Australian Endurance Championship touches down for the first of two weekends of GT racing in New Zealand.
The Hampton Downs 101 is the third round of the CAMS Australian Endurance Championship, and marks the first time Australian GT has visited New Zealand’s north island.
The even event also heralds the maiden event using the recently completed extension at the world class Hampton Downs circuit.
Spearheading the charge are current championship leaders Grant Denyer and Nathan Morcom in the Tekno Autosports McLaren 650S GT3.
Following victory at the opening round of the championship at Phillip Island, Denyer and Morcom head the standings over Klark Quinn in a similar Darrell Lea entered McLaren.
A former two-time Australian GT Championship winner, Quinn will be joined by New Zealand superstar ‘Mad Mike’ Whiddett, who will make his highly anticipated transition from drifting to circuit racing for the first time.
After a stunning performance at Sydney Motorsport Park for the second round of the Championship, father and son duo Andrew and George Miedecke are also set to make the journey across the Tasman.
Their burgeoning Miedecke Motor Group team will boast a second car for former Bathurst 1000 and Australian Super Touring champion Tony Longhurst, who will be joined in the Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3 by Richard Moore.
Fellow Bathurst winner Steve Richards will once again be joined by Max Twigg aboard the BMW M6 GT3 while local favourite Greg Murphy will step back into a race car as he joins Tony Quinn for the first time in the Darrell Lea Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3.
The Hampton Downs 101 will mark Murphy’s first appearance in the CAMS Australian Endurance Championship and the first time since the 2013 Highlands 101, when he shared a McLaren with Neil Crompton, that he’s competed in an Australian GT event.
Having shown strong pace at Phillip Island at the opening round of the year, Garth Tander is poised to be reunited with Australian GT Championship race winner Steve McLaughlan in the JAMEC PEM Racing Audi R8 LMS, one of six cars being prepared by the Audi Sport Customer Racing crew.
Rejoining their ranks will be reigning Australian GT Champion Christopher Mies who will slot in alongside Tony Bates, while Ash Samadi will again be joined by Tony D’Alberto with the class winning Bathurst 12 Hour combo of Greg Taylor and Nathan Antunes poised to share the duties in the GT Motorsport entry.
Brothers Theo and James Koundouris will pilot the Supabarn Supermarkets backed Audi R8 LMS while newly crowned Blancpain Endurance Series Am Champion Liam Talbot will steer the Skwirk Online Education R8 Ultra with Jake Fouracre.
Making their CAMS Australian Endurance Championship debut, Michael Caruso and Matt Simmons lead the Japanese charge aboard a Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3, one of two examples of the modern day ‘Godzilla’ in the field along with local aces Clark Proctor and Andrew Porter.
Local fans will be able to cheer on local heroes including Hall of Fame member Craig Baird who will drive a Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Scott Taylor, Simon Ellingham and ex-pat New Zealander Tim Miles will be at the wheel of the Fastway Couriers Audi R8 Ultra.
Following a podium position at the opening round of the year, and a solid result at Sydney Motorsport Park, Auckland-born hotshot Dominic Storey will partner with Peter Hackett in another Mercedes-AMG GT3, the duo currently fourth in the points standings.
A number of other local entries will also duke it out against the world class field in the 101-lap race, covering a distance of more than 400 kilometres.
With ten manufacturers represented, the diverse entries will take to the track for the first time next Friday (October 28) for opening practice ahead of qualifying on Saturday, including a unique Top 10 Shootout, and the epic 101-lap endurance race on Sunday.
Fans across New Zealand will be able to catch all the action on television, starting with qualifying on Saturday afternoon starting at 4 p.m. on TV3.
The action then heats up on Sunday with the Hampton Downs 101 race broadcast live on TV3 in New Zealand and Fox Sports in Australia.
A live stream will be available internationally to fans outside of New Zealand across both qualifying and the race via the internet.