Gibson at Highlands 2014Podium finish for Gibson in V8 SuperTourer race

Auckland based Mark Gibson has finished today's final race on the podium after a gruelling 20 laps of Cromwell's Highlands Motorsport Park driving the John McIntyre Racing #47 Blackwoods Protector FG Falcon.

The first of seven rounds for the 2014 season, Gibson was tested in both sun and rain as the weather swung from seasonal opposites during the weekend. With rain affecting both of today's races the 21-year-old took it all in his stride as he stuck to the team's game plan of small steps. Tackling both a new circuit and car Gibson finished sixth in Saturday's opening race, backing that up with a safe seventh this morning.

Starting from position five for the afternoon's final race of 20 laps, Gibson slotted in to fourth when the car in front failed to make the grid. Setting himself a clear spot behind the leaders he moved to second for a while after two in front spun. Yielding to the gain as the race wore on he kept well within his limits and slowly narrowed the gap to the car in front, getting a clean passing move to rise to third position on the 16th lap. Holding that until the chequered flag gives Gibson a total of 172 points and position five in the driver standings.

"It was far beyond the expectations of this weekend," said an elated Gibson. "I was looking to get points rather than a podium result – that wasn't on my mind so I'm very very happy.

"The car was extremely good in the last race and I felt right at home – so I could concentrate more on looking after it and the tyres and pick opportunity as it came. That was how I could work my way up to third spot."

Gibson also conceded he's comfortable in the wet conditions – unlike many of his peers.

For team owner John McIntyre it surpassed any realistic result he could have expected from a rookie driver on a brand new circuit.

"Looking at the whole weekend Mark played it exactly how I'd hoped. In the end he exceeded that plan. In the third race, while he was the least experienced driver he drove like the most experienced and I think that's all credit to him and the good head on his shoulders for a 21-year-old."

Returning their undamaged car to its transporter was a further boost to the team – faring better than many of the initial 12 cars that started.

"He's given us a dream start to the championship and it means we can work on other things knowing we have got points in the bank. We've got a good straight car going to the next round at Manfeild and that's put us on the front foot."

The team have a mere two weeks before the next round – being held at the Manawatu located Manfeild circuit. The 8-9 February weekend is headlined by the running of the New Zealand Grand Prix, with the V8 SuperTourer category running as a support class.

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