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.

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