McIntyre Hampton Downs Rd 1McIntyre back in contention after V8 SuperTourer season opener

The smile was back on the face of popular V8 driver John McIntyre this weekend, as he came through an intensive day of racing at the opening round of the 2013 BNT V8 SuperTourer series with a hard-fought third place and fifth overall on the leader-board.

The Nelson-based, 2012 V8 SuperTourer sprint champion congratulated his new-look John McIntyre Racing crew for producing a genuinely quick race car, and keeping focussed despite some setbacks and delivering improving results as the day progressed.

"The highlight was definitely the third race," said McIntyre. "Having started seventh, I finished third after getting up to second and enjoying a really good tussle with Shane Van Gisbergen.

"This series is so competitive, even more than last year, and I've just enjoyed the whole day, our whole team; it's been great."

After McIntyre's 2012 season finished with a sickening crash at the final round, which left him injured and the #47 Blackwoods Protector Ford severely damaged, he added: "I feel we're really back in contention as a front-runner in this series again this season. The car has fantastic pace even though I'm still slightly hampered by my injured shoulder – it handles the longer races, but it's still not perfect."

McIntyre described Sunday morning's qualifying session, where he set the seventh quickest lap time, as solid.

"Not quite up to our expectations, but our new engineer Craig Russell and I continue to learn. We've certainly got room to improve our qualifying results for future events."

The first attempt at race one, of 15 laps, was red-flagged seconds after the rolling start as a major incident at turn one left seven competitors unable to make the re-start 15 minutes later. McIntyre says he got a good start at the second attempt, moving swiftly from seventh into third.

"But I didn't have the car speed of Ant Pedersen and Greg Murphy in first and second, and had Daniel Gaunt chasing hard. As Daniel attempted to undertake, he pushed #47 around, causing a fair bit of damage to the side. I came in briefly for the guys to check it, got back out on the same lap and finished, just in the points, in 12th place."

Early in the afternoon, McIntyre lined up for the 20-lap race in 12th and was absolutely delighted with his race pace which allowed him to move forward to finish fifth.

"We went forward really well in the first part of the race, having made a few changes after race one. I got a really good start and the car had great pace which allowed me to pick people off one by one, under brakes at turn one, until I was just a second shy of Shane and able to maintain a strong fifth place to the end.

"Points earned in the first two races ranked us seventh on the race for the final 30-lapper. I was able to pass a few cars at the start and with excellent race pace, I got through to second ahead of Shane and behind Murph. Oil on the track meant we were all taking a particular line; it looked like I was covering Shane too much and got shown the black and white flag. I eased up, took a different line and Shane passed to leave me third. It's very close, excellent racing, and I'm rapt that the team just kept going forward with better and better results throughout the day."

Round two is closer to home for McIntyre at the Ruapuna circuit near Christchurch, while his mostly Taupo-based team face the multi-day trek south for the 9 and 10 March event.

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