Back when we checked out the Crawford Porsche and Pontiac a year ago, the cars were amongst the wildest things we’d ever seen on a local race track. In the last few weeks, Glenn ‘Smithy’ Smith, who drives the Porsche, has added a new weapon to his arsenal, and it’s equally as — if not even more — insane.
The car is a 2015 SaRaNi GT3 Camaro built by Reiter Engineering out of Germany. The team will run the car in endurance-racing events, while keeping the Porsche as a dedicated GT1 machine.
The Camaro was purchased from Reiter’s Australian agent at the end of October, with no huge rush to get it to New Zealand. However two weeks out from the November 13–15 Highlands 101, the Porsche was involved in an accident at Taupo, and couldn’t be repaired in time. This saw the team make some frantic phone calls and arrange for the car to be shipped ASAP in an attempt to run that instead.
It landed in Auckland the weekend before the event, which saw a big push to get it through customs, and a rush to get it down to Queenstown. By Wednesday afternoon it was finally in their hands, and by Thursday afternoon the car and crew were trackside 1500km south from where they’d collected it just a day earlier. Now the fun could begin.
Friday would be the first time they’d fire the car up, let alone get into setting it up for the drivers, including sorting seat fitment, installation of radio gear, sussing fuel, oils, tyres, and everything else associated with such a complex machine.
At this stage the race agenda hadn’t even been discussed, but at least the crew now knew how to start the thing!
With the team not having enough spare tyres for the three-hour-long 101 lap race, it was decided it was best to give that one a miss, and focus on the smaller races instead.
Testing and practice went well, and Smithy came second in the first 11-lap race around the 4.1km-long circuit. Co-driver Ian Hayr, who’d been in the crash at Taupo, also had plenty of seat time and was feeling confident with the new car — a relief to all.
Come Sunday morning, which was greeted with a wet track, it was decided that Smithy would do the one-hour alone. Again, he bought the car home in a credible second place.
By the afternoon, and the next 11-lap race, the track was dry and Ian was back in the seat, managing to secure yet another second-place trophy. So, all in all it was a great weekend. The car ran faultlessly and both drivers got plenty of seat time.
The team are now looking forward to showing what it’s capable of in some longer endurance races, and from what they’ve shown with the car’s first event, we’re expecting big things!
The team would like to thank the crew for the 101: Maurice, Woody, Stratty, Carl, Garry, Bernard, Paul, Jason, Keith, Mike (photos), drivers Glenn, Ian, Simon, John, and all the partners.
2015 SaRaNi GT3 Camaro
- Engine: 7.9-litre V8 Chev built by Kateck USA, 66mm intake restrictor, EFI Euro8 ECU, and MoTeC, 2D Datalogger, 120lit fuel cell
- ABS braking system, adjustable-traction control. electric power steering
- Driveline: Hollinger six-speed sequential gearbox with Hollinger paddle shift. Hollinger independant rear end
- Suspension: Reiter Engineering double-wishbone front and rear, adjustable sway bars, Ohlins four-way adjustable shocks
- Brakes: Brembo 405mm front-brake rotors, six-pot Brembo calipers, 355mm rear rotors, Brembo calipers
- Wheels/tyres: 19x12.5-inch OZ Racing centre-lock wheels, 310/710R19 tyres
- Exterior: Carbon-fibre body panels to FIA GT3 homologation specs
- Performance: 650hp, 800Nm-plus torque
- Weight: 1290kg