Mark GibsonGibson to make V8 SuperTourer season debut this weekend

Auckland based 21-year-old race car driver Mark Gibson makes his debut to the V8 SuperTourer series this weekend (25-26 January) for Taupo's John McIntyre Racing team – heading to the central Otago location of Highland's Motorsport Park near Cromwell.

Having recently signed to the title winning V8 SuperTourer team it will be a weekend of firsts for the series rookie as he takes the pace setting #47 Blackwoods Protector FG Falcon for his first laps around the South Island circuit.

At 4.1km it is the longest and newest track on the seven round calendar and incorporates 14 turns – each with a uniquely international characteristic.

"It's an amazing facility with inclines and declines that gives variety and challenge you don't see anywhere else in New Zealand. From what I've seen of race footage there are a couple of new passing opportunities so you really have to be on top of your game to do well there I reckon," says Gibson, originally from Taupo.

Having just completed and passed a four-year degree to become a yacht designer Gibson's focus is now on collecting points toward the V8 SuperTourer sprint title. Contested at the first four rounds, starting this weekend at Cromwell, Gibson will then share the Blackwoods Protector FG Falcon V8 SuperTourer with McIntyre for the three endurance rounds.

Mentored by McIntyre in preparation for the latter half of the season, he says the opening round is especially important – as Gibson hasn't raced there: "I will be using my experience from driving the Fastway Porsche at the Highlands 101 last year where we finished tenth, and third in the 3-hour race – to guide the setup and preparation for the weekend. We've done a lot of video analysis from the in-car footage and have adapted that to what we feel will work for our Blackwoods Protector FG Falcon V8 SuperTourer and tested it on the Taupo circuit last week. We did a total of 78 laps or 280km, during a very productive day – of which Mark did 62 laps. The car was then given a quick check and loaded up for the journey south."

The journey to Cromwell started a week ago when the team left their Taupo base to embark on a South Island tour.

"It's a pretty exciting week," says McIntyre. "It's been a great opportunity to travel to different parts of the country and visit so many sponsors and supporters during our tour – especially since we're going further south than ever before.

From the Nelson based Talley's plant the team has since journeyed to Christchurch, Ashburton and Timaru as it works its way to central Otago – stopping in Cromwell and then Queenstown late on Thursday.

"Then its business time – as we take every opportunity to look over the track and bring Mark up to speed with its nuances that go toward making a winning package. During the first practise session I will spend some of that track time in the car and get a feel for how it's setup," explains McIntyre.

"Basically we are doubling our feedback and data acquisition by doing it that way – it's like having a two car team in some ways."

Following the 40 minute test session the team gets on Friday afternoon they get a further 30 minutes early on the Saturday before mid-morning qualifying sessions to decide the starting positions for the first two races.

The opening race of 12 laps will be held at 2:25pm Saturday afternoon with the second race of 12 laps from 10:30am Sunday morning.

The total of points from those first two races will decide the starting grid for the weekend finale – of 20 laps, starting at 2pm.

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