Alex Riberas and Darren Kelly have won New Zealand’s 2020 Endurance Racing Championship held this weekend at Highlands Motorsport Park in their Aston Martin Vantage GT3.
The Heart of Racing duo claim the national title in the perfect ending to their debut season in New Zealand. After winning the Carter’s Tyres South Island Endurance Series and taking third place in the Golden Homes North Island Endurance Series, Riberas and Kelly ran a flawless 3hr race at Saturday’s meeting claiming a lights-to-flag victory. They finished 38.021 seconds ahead of former champion Jonny Reid in the second place IMS Audi.
As an international driver, this race marks the first championship title in New Zealand for Riberas. In addition to winning the national series, Riberas set the track’s lap record at Highlands Motorsport Park this weekend.
For Kelly, this is the fourth time he has conquered a New Zealand championship in motorsport despite just beginning his endurance racing career this year. Kelly has clinched the championship of D1NZ’s national drift series three times (2013, 2015, 2019), and after trying his hand at endurance racing, it is clear that Kelly and Riberas are a match made in heaven.
“Winning this championship is really special for Alex and I,” said Kelly. “We have all had a crazy year so far, and this is definitely our highlight of 2020 as drivers. Racing for the kids at Starship makes winning this series even more special. This win is for them.”
The Heart of Racing competes in the most demanding motorsports series around the globe to raise funds and awareness for the world’s leading paediatric hospitals. The charity endurance team started in New Zealand after Riberas’ 10-day vacation in March turned into an extended stay as COVID-19 began to circulate around the world.
It became apparent in August that The Heart of Racing would race in New Zealand’s endurance championships. They partnered with the Starship Foundation and in just a few months, the team has raised nearly $270,000 for New Zealand’s National Children’s Hospital.
While supporting the Starship Foundation, The Heart of Racing established a team with International Motorsport, an Auckland-based race team, and hit the ground running in both the North Island and South Island series.
“I won’t forget my first experience with New Zealand motorsport,” said Riberas. “The genuine support within this community is something I’ve never seen before in racing. I am so grateful to be a part of it and extremely honoured to share this achievement with Darren, Starship, Giltrap Group, and International Motorsport.”
Words: The Heart of Racing