Champion driver John McIntyre says his break from racing has revitalised him for the fourth BNT NZ SuperTourers championship, starting at Taupo at the end of September.
Nelson-based McIntyre sat out the four sprint-race meetings earlier this year to give young Taupo driver Mark Gibson experience in the high-power car. The two drivers will now pair up for the three endurance races beginning with the Rush Security Taupo 400.
McIntyre won three championships in the NZV8 class and also the inaugural BNT NZ SuperTourers sprint championship, but his more recent results have not been at that level.
“Having time off driving has really reinvigorated my passion for it – sometimes what you need is a bit of a break away,” McIntyre, who manages his own team, says. “That’s been really good and I’ve got a simulator now and joined iRacing like the rest of New Zealand motorsport.”
This virtual racing on-line has helped keep his reflexes sharp for the new season.
McIntyre is also excited that his team now has a top race engineer, Mark Johnstone, who will guide the team in fine-tuning the setup of their Blackwoods Protector Ford Falcon to suit the conditions at each track.
“He’s a Kiwi living in Australia with a massive amount of experience including V8 Supercars and Porsches,” McIntyre says. “He’s been with us since the Pukekohe meeting in March.
“We’ve virtually had a full bare-chassis rebuild and we’ve got a two-day test at Taupo, our designated test track, in the middle of September. That will be a great opportunity for us to get our preparation nailed before the first round at Taupo at the end of September, get me back in the seat and get everyone working as a team.
“We’re going to be one of the best-prepared teams, and certainly working very hard on our pit stops. As well as having the speed on the track, it’s going to come down to driver changes. In this series if you lose time in the pits you can’t gain it back – everyone’s too fast.”
He and Gibson will use the same driving position, so they do not need to change anything inside the car when they change over at the pit stops.
“It’s very important in these cars to try and get a driver pairing that are about the same size,” McIntyre says. “In a sense it’s really sprint racing with driver changes and refuelling.”
The fourth BNT NZ Supercar championship has a revised format, starting on September 27-28 and running through to the V8 Supercars meeting at Pukekohe in
April rather being staged over a calendar year. It also begins with the endurance races, rather than the sprint races.
“I think it’s a good move to condense the championship up. Starting off with the endurance races is also a good thing – it’s exciting, it gets a lot more attention.”
Several V8 Supercar drivers will coming from Australia to be co-drivers for the endurance series. They include Kiwi hero Shane Van Gisbergen, who pairs with Aucklander Simon Evans.
For further information please call Bernard Carpinter 0274-528-744 or Mike Marsden 021-560-075.