JMRGibson to tame 575 horsepower V8 SuperTourer at Manfeild this weekend

Housed inside Manfeild's 7750 square metre stadium this weekend will be the 575 horsepower #47 Blackwoods Protector FG Falcon V8 SuperTourer of John McIntyre Racing driver Mark Gibson, raring to be unleashed upon the local facilities.

There to contest the second round of the BNT V8 SuperTourer series being held at the Manawatu based Manfeild race circuit from Friday 7 February to Sunday 9 February, Auckland based Taupo bred Gibson will tackle the three races in support of the New Zealand Grand Prix weekend.

The last time the now 22-year-old competed at the 3.03km long Manfeild circuit it was in a V8 Challenge Cup car – the second and support tier to the V8 SuperTourers. This time it is in the 550 horsepower rear-wheel-drive V8 SuperTourer – meaning a switch in driving style and mind-set.

Having recently driven the circuit during a hot-lap ride day for the JMR team Gibson says Manfeild has unique characteristics not seen at any other venue in New Zealand.

"It's fantastic for spectating as you can see the entire circuit from wherever you are seated. Plus it's a simple track with great cambers that make for multiple race lines and unique over or under passing opportunities. That's what makes it interesting for me – as I enjoy the race craft side of driving. Manfeild is a track that offers greater opportunity for passing – and that makes for better spectating and racing."

Action begins on the Friday morning with the first of three test sessions, ending in the first qualifying session, being held from 4pm. The second qualifying session (to decide the grid for the weekend's second race) will be held early Saturday afternoon, before the opening 15 lap race. The second race of 15 laps will be held mid-Sunday morning with the weekend finale of 25 laps scheduled to start at 2pm.

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.

Gibson HighlandsGibson in the points after season opening V8 SuperTourer race

Auckland based John McIntyre Racing driver Mark Gibson has scored a solid haul of points following today's opening race for the 2014 V8 SuperTourer season, being held at Cromwell's Highlands Motorsport Park.

The first time Gibson has raced the #47 Blackwoods Protector FG Falcon resulted in a sixth placed finish, netting 45 points toward the coveted drivers' title. The 21-year-old crossed the finish line having survived multiple instances of accident attrition during the afternoon 12-lap race.

Also the first time the seven-round V8 SuperTourer category has raced at the recently established venue, Gibson says he's thrilled with the result given the progress he's still to achieve.

Quotes from Mark Gibson, driver of the #47 Blackwoods Protector FG Falcon V8 SuperTourer:

"A good points haul for us. To get from 11th to sixth and around the carnage left us with a clean car I could drive to the finish.

"John got on the radio warning me what was about to happen and I was able to brakes hard enough to avoid what lay ahead – it was a lot like the movie 'Days of Thunder' really."

In more temperate conditions compared to the searing summer sun of Friday, light winds and high cloud are expected to give way to rain for Sunday's conclusion to the weekend. Featuring two races, one of 12 laps and one of 20 laps Gibson says he has plenty more to come from his driving performance.

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