Star-studded Highlands 6-Hour entry list revealed
Hayden Paddon in a Porsche 992 Cup, Shane van Gisbergen in a Brabham BT62 and Luke Youlden in a Mercedes-AMG GT3 are just three entries confirmed in a star-studded lineup for next weekend’s Highlands Motorsport Park’s tenth-anniversary 6-Hour enduro.
A total of 20 cars will take to the grid come Sunday, representing six manufacturers competing across five classes.
Recently-crowned New Zealand Endurance Champions Sam Fillmore and Jonny Reid join forces again in the GT3 Class but face a stern challenge from a range of New Zealand and internationally-based drivers.
One such contender is that of the Dayle ITM Lamborghini Huracan GT3, shared between Super Trofeo Europe leader Brendon Leitch, South Island Endurance Series Class 3 champion Christina Orr-West and Australian Porsche Carrera Cup Pro-Am driver Tim Miles.
South Island Endurance Series runner-up Steve Brooks joins forces with Bill Riding and Andrew Waite, the latter having driven the #888 Audi R8 GT3 in Riding’s absence in the second round of this year’s championship.
Also in the mix is the ever-quick Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo of father/son pairing Paul and Ant Pedersen. The duo have secured a top recruit as their third driver, in current GT New Zealand and Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia champion, and Porsche Sprint Challenge Australia series leader Marco Giltrap.
Youlden, who won the 2017 Bathurst 1000 alongside David Reynolds, joins Paul Lucchitti for a two-driver lineup in the #661 Mercedes-AMG GT3, while two further Mercedes are set to take part in the hands of the trio of Justin McMillan, Glen Wood and Garth Walden, and the duo of Marcel Zalloua and Sergio Pires.
Two Open Class vehicles will also be strong contenders, with three-time Supercars champion van Gisbergen linking with Dwayne Carter in the rare Brabham BT62, and Glenn Smith and John De Veth linking up once again, joined by Brendon Leitch’s older brother, Toyota Racing Series race winner Damon Leitch.
One of several battles-within-the-battle will comprise of a four-strong Porsche contingent, who could also challenge towards the pointy end of the field.
The regular combination of Jono Lester, Heremana Malmezac and Francois Beziac take to the track in the #909 Porsche 991 MR and will face a stern test against three 992 Cups.
North Island Endurance Series Class 2 & 3 1-Hour champion Luke Manson is joined by former Supercars driver Dan Gaunt and 2021 New Zealand Formula Ford Champion James Penrose, while the #912 entry of Scott O’Donnell and Allan Dippie has called on the services of incoming Supercars driver and Dunlop Series race-winner Ryan Wood.
Martin Dippie, meanwhile, has the services of Porsche Sprint Challenge race-winner Ronan Murphy and 2023 European Rally Championship winner Hayden Paddon by his side as he goes up against brother Allan.
A six-strong GT4 contingent has also been confirmed, led by circuit owner Tony Quinn, who joins grandson Ryder Quinn and Porsche Carrera Cup star Courtney Prince in a Porsche Cayman GT4.
Mike Driver, Chris Nicholas and Kynan Yu are in the second of two Cayman GT4s.
Two Ginettas are also in the mix: Allan Sargeant and Matthew Gibson in the G55 and Steve Scoles, Paul Blomqvist and Rowan Shepherd in the G56.
Joel Giddy, Ayrton Hodson and James Sax link up in a Mercedes AMG GT4, as do Glen Cotterill, Sam Cotterill and Maurice Shapley.
The sole TCR entry, comprising of Matt O’Donnell and future stars Clay Richards and Blake Knowles, in an Audi RS3 LMS TCR, rounds out the field.
The Six-Hour race begins on Sunday with a unique Le Mans-style start, where co-drivers will run the 250 metres in their racing overalls and remove a Velcro tie off the back of their car to signal to their team that their vehicle is cleared to start.
The event will be televised on Sky Sport, fronted by a star commentary team of Chad Neylon, Garth Tander, and renowned Kiwi sports presenter Stephen McIvor covering pit lane.