McIntyre Hampton Downs Rd 1McIntyre back in contention after V8 SuperTourer season opener

The smile was back on the face of popular V8 driver John McIntyre this weekend, as he came through an intensive day of racing at the opening round of the 2013 BNT V8 SuperTourer series with a hard-fought third place and fifth overall on the leader-board.

The Nelson-based, 2012 V8 SuperTourer sprint champion congratulated his new-look John McIntyre Racing crew for producing a genuinely quick race car, and keeping focussed despite some setbacks and delivering improving results as the day progressed.

"The highlight was definitely the third race," said McIntyre. "Having started seventh, I finished third after getting up to second and enjoying a really good tussle with Shane Van Gisbergen.

"This series is so competitive, even more than last year, and I've just enjoyed the whole day, our whole team; it's been great."

After McIntyre's 2012 season finished with a sickening crash at the final round, which left him injured and the #47 Blackwoods Protector Ford severely damaged, he added: "I feel we're really back in contention as a front-runner in this series again this season. The car has fantastic pace even though I'm still slightly hampered by my injured shoulder – it handles the longer races, but it's still not perfect."

McIntyre described Sunday morning's qualifying session, where he set the seventh quickest lap time, as solid.

"Not quite up to our expectations, but our new engineer Craig Russell and I continue to learn. We've certainly got room to improve our qualifying results for future events."

The first attempt at race one, of 15 laps, was red-flagged seconds after the rolling start as a major incident at turn one left seven competitors unable to make the re-start 15 minutes later. McIntyre says he got a good start at the second attempt, moving swiftly from seventh into third.

"But I didn't have the car speed of Ant Pedersen and Greg Murphy in first and second, and had Daniel Gaunt chasing hard. As Daniel attempted to undertake, he pushed #47 around, causing a fair bit of damage to the side. I came in briefly for the guys to check it, got back out on the same lap and finished, just in the points, in 12th place."

Early in the afternoon, McIntyre lined up for the 20-lap race in 12th and was absolutely delighted with his race pace which allowed him to move forward to finish fifth.

"We went forward really well in the first part of the race, having made a few changes after race one. I got a really good start and the car had great pace which allowed me to pick people off one by one, under brakes at turn one, until I was just a second shy of Shane and able to maintain a strong fifth place to the end.

"Points earned in the first two races ranked us seventh on the race for the final 30-lapper. I was able to pass a few cars at the start and with excellent race pace, I got through to second ahead of Shane and behind Murph. Oil on the track meant we were all taking a particular line; it looked like I was covering Shane too much and got shown the black and white flag. I eased up, took a different line and Shane passed to leave me third. It's very close, excellent racing, and I'm rapt that the team just kept going forward with better and better results throughout the day."

Round two is closer to home for McIntyre at the Ruapuna circuit near Christchurch, while his mostly Taupo-based team face the multi-day trek south for the 9 and 10 March event.

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Crash best thing to happen to McIntyre

Top V8 SuperTourer driver John McIntyre regards the massive crash during practice for last season's final event at Ruapuna outside Christchurch as one of the best things that's happened to him and his team.

McIntyre, 35, is preparing to compete in the upcoming seven-round series of the BNT V8 SuperTourers, starting at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park over the weekend of 15 to 17 February.

"People probably think I'm crazy to say this, but the crash has been positive because it made me think about what I really want from my racing over the next few years," says McIntyre who lives in Nelson and runs his team, John McIntyre Racing (JMR), from the Taupo Motorsport Park.

Having finished last year's inaugural V8 SuperTourer season as the sprint round champion and third overall behind Scott McLaughlin and Greg Murphy, 'Johnny Mac' has been working hard during the 11 weeks since the crash. Not only has the popular V8 champion been healing from his injuries – an anterior shoulder dislocation and rib damage – he's been rebuilding his team and the severely-damaged #47 Blackwoods Protector Falcon race car.

"It took me two weeks to even be able to write. I'm not saying I want to crash again, but you do look for the positives in any situation and ending last season in this way helped me see we had overcomplicated how we were running the team and the two cars."

McIntyre recently sold the second JMR-built V8 SuperTourer to Dominic Storey and his Auckland-based iSport team.

"When you consider everything that was going on last year, it highlights what an amazing achievement third overall was for JMR. Scaling down to run just one car and easing back from my responsibilities as a director of V8 SuperTourers are all part of refocusing for this season.

"We now have the highly-experienced duo of Richard Lester as team manager and Craig Russell as head engineer and we're working with a very simple philosophy for the car – it's a great car and I had no real apprehension about driving the now-repaired Falcon when we tested last Thursday.

"I'd enjoyed some seat-time testing our championship-winning NZV8 for JMR development driver Mark Gibson who's competing in the full V8 Challenge Cup this season before I got in our SuperTourer. I had no trouble from the shoulder during the test, although it's not perfect yet. All in all, our test session was very positive and I'm already further ahead with the car then I was last year. We're running our engine 'as is' from last year and found a few minor things we needed to sort on the car. We wanted to get our testing done early so we have this week to tidy things up."

Looking ahead to the new season, McIntyre is buoyed by the experience and fresh sets of eyes of his revamped team.

"It's more exciting coming into this season knowing how competitive it's going to be and it's great to have what we think it quite a well thought-out game plan. Of course everyone wants to win and so do we. The crash helped us focus on a few things that weren't going right and now we think we've got them right now, but the competition will be the deciding factor."

The sprint event schedule has also been revamped to focus the V8 SuperTourer on-track action into Sunday's timetable.

"We start the season at Hampton Downs with two 60-minutes practice sessions on Friday and another one early Saturday afternoon. On Sunday we're straight into qualifying at 10am with a 15-lap race at 11:25am, a 20-lap race at 1:45pm and wrap up the day with a 30-lap race at 4pm.

"The BNT V8 SuperTourers will again screen on TV3's CRC Motorsport show, so we're looking forward to going racing for what is going to be another huge season of V8 SuperTourer action."

McIntyre discharged from hospital

V8 SuperTourer driver John McIntyre has been discharged from Christchurch hospital this evening after treatment for injuries sustained in a practice accident at the Ruapuna raceway.

Competing in the series final round for 2012 the driver of the #47 JMR Falcon lost effective braking while entering turn one and impacted heavily with the track boundary wall. Able to walk to the ambulance that transported him to hospital for a complete assessment, McIntyre was later discharged having been treated for an anterior shoulder dislocation and rib fractures.

Unfortunately neither McIntyre nor his car will be race ready for Sunday's season racing finale. Instead the winner of the sprint championship segment of the series will be present to support team drivers Steven Richards and Dominic Storey in the #70 Fastway Couriers Falcon. McIntyre will also spend the day with sponsors and fans that planned to be at the event.

McIntyre and his team would like to extend their sincere thanks to all the supportive messages received today after the accident.

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