TFM on final countdown to historic Bathurst 12 Hour start

TFM FerrariThe first all-New Zealand team to take on the premier race at Bathurst - the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest 12 hour endurance motorsport event – will have their million dollar Ferrari on route to Australia by the end of the week.

The Trass Family Motorsport team completed their final shakedown in the Ferrari 458 Italia at Hampton Downs earlier this month and are now in the final stages of workshop preparation before shipping out this Friday.

The campaign represents the first all-Kiwi to complete in A Class for outright honours. The team will be up against the factory giants from all over the world at Mt Panorama between February 6th – 8th. Bathurst is regarded as one of the toughest endurance circuits in the world.

The team’s lead driver is 25-year-old Jono Lester, who is brimming with confidence off the back of two successful seasons of GT3 racing in Japan. He will receive crucial support from multiple NZV8 and NZ SuperTourer champion John McIntyre who is the only team member with significant Bathurst experience from many years of competing in the V8 Supercar endurance races. Rounding out the team is impressive Highlands 101 debutant Graeme Smyth, who at 23 is better known for his Championship wins in KZ2 shifter karts, but in a whirlwind few months has been given the huge Bathurst opportunity as a GT3 Development driver.

The team has also been working off the track to make sure they are in peak physical condition to take on the gruelling 6.2km circuit.

The team is aiming for a top ten finish in the 55-strong field which will feature teams from Australia, Germany, Italy, Japan, USA, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Germany and of course New Zealand. Ferrari enjoys the most outright representation with seven cars followed by Audi (six), Mercedes-Benz (five), Bentley (three), Aston Martin (three), Lamborghini (two), Porsche (two), Nissan (one) and McLaren (one).

John McIntyreMcIntyre and Gibson in SuperTourer podium battle

Battling for podium honours became a reality for John McIntyre and Mark Gibson – driving the #47 Blackwoods Protector Ford Falcon NZ SuperTourer to successive fourth place finishes during the weekend's opening round of the endurance championship.

Held at the Taupo Motorsport Park Nelson's McIntyre (formerly from the Hawke's Bay) and Auckland's Gibson (formerly from Taupo) put in to practise their pre-season plan of being a dominant pairing for the coveted V8 title.

Mixing with a number of visiting V8Supercar drivers drafted in to the three-round endurance series the upping of the competition stakes was taken in the pair's stride as they finished with two fourth place finishes and one fifth placing.

Wet weather during Sunday's two races added to the John McIntyre Racing Team's workload – with its crew having to perform multiple tyre changes during the racing. The combined driver and team performance kept the car at the sharp end of the competition.

"It is the best overall round result we've had since the first round of 2013 – so it's a long time ago that we were this competitive and had such a good car. It was a huge weekend for everyone including the several hundred supporters we had and the hospitality guests - who all got to see us get so close to the podium in two of the races," said team owner McIntyre.

In the season's opening race – held on the Saturday afternoon the team fought with back-to-back sprint champion Greg Murphy in the opening laps – who was also hunting for a podium result.

"We had a really good battle with Greg (Murphy) in the first race and got down the inside of him at one point before he tried closing the door on us - causing him to spin out. That was a shame for him and while that incident slowed us up a little that's racing and we look forward to footing with him again," added McIntyre.

For Gibson – who'd raced the car during last season's sprint championship, it was reward for all the learning of how to race the 575hp SuperTourer car.

"Being up the front of the field fighting with the top guys really helps pick your pace up and while I'm a bit gutted we missed out on two of the race podiums the battles were very very close. Where we are in the championship keeps us in the hunt for that goal of winning."

The team are fifth overall in the standings on 314 points – 65 behind the leaders.

Returning to their Taupo based workshop after the final race the pair have one month until their next outing. The second round will be held at Waikato's Hampton Downs circuit 1 – 2 November.

McIntyre tops standings at 3-hr enduro

Paired with Simon Gilbertson for the Taupo round of the 3-Hour North Island Endurance Race Series John McIntyre steered the Porsche GT3 to the top of the touring car category.

Finishing second overall in the race, behind the points ineligible Juno sports car, there were challenges that kept McIntyre busy when he took over at the half-way mark.
Starting from third position in damp conditions, car owner Simon Gilbertson kept ahead of trouble to pit at the 1hr 25min mark for McIntyre to take the car to the finish. Unfortunately another team had wrong-parked in their pit area costing two minutes while the kerfuffle was resolved.

McIntyre joined the race in fourth position – a lap down on the car ahead. Pegging back that gap he was able to overtake the leading touring cars for the top spot and the points reward.

It was McIntyre's first race since December 2013.

The third and final round for the 2014 season will be held at Hampton Downs on 26 July.

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