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.

JMR 2014 launchJohn McIntyre hands V8 drive to rookie Mark Gibson

V8 SuperTourer driver and team owner John McIntyre has today announced he's handing an opportunity to drive his Blackwoods Protector race car for the 2014 race season to Taupo bred and Auckland based Mark Gibson.

Revealed at the John McIntyre Racing team's season launch held at its Taupo Motorsport Park located workshop, McIntyre and Gibson also unveiled their livery for the coming seven round campaign.

The team's third season contesting the premier V8 SuperTourer series, action starts in a little over a week's time when they head south to the recently established Highlands Motorsport Park, located near the central Otago township of Cromwell (25-26 January).

In making his decision to put Gibson in the FG Falcon V8 SuperTourer Nelson based McIntyre says the move is about creating opportunity for both new talent and his team.

"It's a recipe that works well internationally – where the team is run by championship winning personnel that shapes raw talent in to a professional result. For the team to win I need to drive it and not the car. That's where putting the next generation in my place allows me to concentrate on all aspects of the team properly, and ultimately improve our team performance," says McIntyre.

Having contested 17 New Zealand championships, won three NZ V8 titles (2006/2007, 2007/2008 and 2010/2011), the 2012 V8 SuperTourer sprint title and competed consecutively seasons since 1992, McIntyre says he will continue to race. Gibson will contest all seven rounds of the series as the primary driver with McIntyre co-driving at the three endurance races that carry the majority of the season's championship points. McIntyre will also participate during the practise sessions at the sprint rounds.

"It's a great fit for Mark to spend four rounds surrounded by elite competition in identical specification cars to prepare him for the endurance portion of the season. That's the one we're really looking at being at the front of," adds McIntyre.

The V8 SuperTourer endurance title was won last season by Hamilton's Ant Pedersen and Australian V8Supercar driver Chaz Mostert while the overall title winner was V8Supercar stalwart Greg Murphy.

"From being in New Zealand's golf academy for two years to last year representing New Zealand at the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) organised Young Driver Excellence Academy, Mark brings a high level of achievement and potential to the team," says McIntyre of the extensive resume 21-year-old Gibson has accumulated.

Gibson finished the course in the top-three of 11 drivers selected from the Asia Pacific Region, and set fastest times during on-track testing. He earned selection by being the top performer at the MotorSport New Zealand run Elite MotorSport Academy in 2012.

Also a certified yacht designer having spent four years completing a degree at Auckland's Unitec Gibson says his current focus is on being a professional V8Supercar driver.

"After an injury stymied my golf career I took to car racing and instantly fell for the passion of competition and its challenges. Last year's Young Driver Excellence Academy put me much further ahead on that road to being a professional driver and in front of V8Supercar and CAMS (Confederation of Australian Motor Sport) representatives," commented Gibson.

"Now with the opportunity John has offered for 2014 it provides the perfect stepping-stone to compete at the highest level in New Zealand alongside V8Supercar drivers. Best of all I get the full attention and resources of a driver and team that has won championships.

"I can go to the first round as a rookie, be nervous and know the car and team are 100% - the perfect way to move my career forward."

McIntyre will be at Gibson's disposal while he's in the car with radio communication allowing the pair to talk driver-to-driver.

"It's also important that as a team principal the person Mark is communicating with can relate precisely to what it's like out there – to know the protocols and key points that can jump-start a drivers performance. That's what I'm looking forward to as we work our way to the front of the field," adds McIntyre.

JMR continue to be supported by Blackwoods Protector, Cigweld, CRC, Hitachi, Sidchrome, Irwin, Campbell Hausfeld, Talley's, Norwood Farm Machinery Centre, Fastway Couriers, BP Ultimate, Castrol Edge, Ideal Electrical, Ford NZ, USG, Dynamic Fluid Systems, Lyttleton Engineering, Bridon , Vortex, City Collision Repairs, PPG, Safety Source and Motueka Nets.

The team also welcomes new partners Energizer, Schick, Westerman Property Solutions, Trev Terry Marine and Citi-Box.

PukekoheMcIntyre and Luff finish season strongly

Kiwi V8 Champion John McIntyre and Australian Endurance Champion Warren Luff enjoyed a competitive run at Pukekohe last weekend. Competing for the first time together, the duo managed to finish 7th and 6th respectively in the season’s two biggest races both 210km’s last Sunday.

Luff was quickly up to speed in the JMR Falcon posting 10th fastest time in qualifying for co-drivers in which many of Luff’s Australian counterparts were competing. McIntyre qualified 8th in the main driver qualifying held in warm dry conditions at the high speed Pukekohe circuit.

A spin for McIntyre while in 8th and a Drive Through penalty for Luff during Saturdays shorter 38 lap race put pressure on the team to produce a result on Sunday.

The team also had the added challenge of completing two compulsory pit stops in the longer 70 laps races, one for drivers and one for refueling.

Starting 8th and 14th respectively in the two long races, both Luff and McIntyre were competitive in race pace and managed to finish 7th and 6th in the star-studded field.

“As a team we really enjoyed the weekend competing in the top 8 in all of the races. Warren drove really well and together we were able to put in a solid performance to finish the season off on the right note.” McIntyre said.

With just 8 weeks until the first Sprint Round of 2014 the team have a busy schedule to prepare the car in time. The first round of V8SuperTourers third season will be at the worlds newest race track, Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell.

“We have a short turnaround before the start of next season but we feel like we have some momentum heading into the break. It’s just nice for a change to see the car in one piece after a race meeting. It’s been a very challenging season with damage or drama at most rounds and one I am happy to see behind me,” commented Driver and Team Owner John McIntyre.

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