Sidchrome Ford deal set to bring back memories

Sidchrome_Dewalt_JMR_Ford1Two-time Bathurst winner Steve Richards will re-kindle one of the most iconic relationships in NZ motorsport history when he teams up with tool brand Sidchrome for the coming V8 SuperTourer (V8ST) International 500 at Pukekohe 27-28 October.

Paired with young Whangarei ace Scott Harrison for the second round of the endurance race series they are part of a historic reunion that dates back to the 1970's. Driving the #70 JMR Ford Falcon V8 SuperTourer in Sidchrome and Dewalt livery, its number has special significance.

"Previously numbered #556 and sponsored by CRC the new branding and number 70 on the side are highly significant to Sidchrome and the Richards motor racing dynasty," explains team principal and overall V8ST series leader John McIntyre.

"Steve's father, seven-time Bathurst winner 'Gentleman Jim' Richards was sponsored in the late 60s and early 70s in both the Sidchrome Imp and the much more famous Sidchrome Mustang. The Sidchrome Mustang is the racing car that Jim took to Australia when he and his family moved there to begin his illustrious sport sedan and then touring car career.

"Everyone at JMR is hugely proud to be part of Sidchrome's 70th year celebrations and its push back into the New Zealand marketplace. Most hard core racing fans at Pukekohe will have seen or heard stories of the Sidchrome Mustang from the 70s and right now in the 21st century we get to promote Sidchrome and Dewalt with our FG Falcon V8 SuperTourer. Jim will be at the track over the weekend as an ambassador for the team, so there is a good chance he will probably sign more posters than Steve and Scott!"

As well as the new look for the car and the new line-up, both lead driver and team are confident that after testing at the venue recently, the car will take a step forward up the grid.

"We've definitely made some significant improvements on set-up on the car in recent weeks and we are confident of a strong performance at Pukekohe," added Richards. "We're due a good result and there's a good feeling about this one."

Harrison, 23, has spent time behind the wheel of the Sidchrome/Dewalt Falcon during a recent test at Pukekohe and is fresh from driving duties at the enduro season opener at Taupo in early September.

A former Porsche GT3 Cup campaigner, Harrison was quickly up to speed in the freshly branded car, taking the reins from previous co-pilot Will Bamber.

"First and foremost I'd like to thank Will Bamber for the superb job he did at Taupo," continued McIntyre. "We are fortunate that we have such a wealth of driving talent in NZ right now and when Will was unable to drive at Pukekohe I contacted Scott to see if he was. The rest is history and Scott has already had laps in the car at Pukekohe last week. He was straight onto the pace and did an excellent job; he and Steve will make a great combination."

The team arrive at Pukekohe on the Friday 26 October to partake in practise before a street parade in the evening that features the car. Following the Saturday morning qualifying Richard and Harrison will compete in the opening 53 lap race against 19 other cars. That evening the circuit is taken over by iconic Kiwi acts The Feelers and the Jordan Luck band as part of a race by day party by night concert.

Sunday morning is taken up with a second 53 lap race with a 70 lap race in the afternoon to decide the weekend winner.

The endurance series wraps up at Powerbuilt Tools Raceway, Ruapuna, Christchurch on 24 and 25 November.

John McIntyre and Jono LesterDouble podium for McIntyre and Lester in V8 SuperTourer enduro; two top tens for Richards and Bamber

V8 SuperTourers' sprint champion John McIntyre and co-driver Jono Lester secured third place in both of the long distance races which comprised the inaugural V8 SuperTourer endurance event in Taupo on 2 September.

McIntyre and Lester, supported by impeccable teamwork from the John McIntyre Racing crew, turned their starting positions of sixth in race one and 13th in race two into two hard-fought and well-deserved third places in the #47 Blackwoods Protector Falcon.

Team-mates Steve Richards and William Bamber in the #556 CRC Motornews.co.nz Falcon also improved on their qualifying positions to finish the two 56-lap races in seventh and ninth respectively.

"Overall it was an excellent weekend for John McIntyre Racing," says McIntyre, the team's owner and lead driver, from Nelson.

"The speed with either car wasn't quite there, but they were reliable and strong, we had solid race pace and our young co-drivers did a great job. With #47, we definitely had the fastest crew, who changed both right hand tyres during our pit stop in less time than it took for me and Jono to swap places.

"We really nailed the race strategy and I'm delighted with the overall results."

Lester, the 22-year-old international race driver formerly of Palmerston North and now residing in Auckland, was rapt to finish his first event with JMR so well.

"I was quietly confident we could get a better result than our qualifying times indicated and it's terrific to then secure two podium finishes. The last few laps of race two when John was battling with Richard Moore for third place were really intense."

The endurance event format saw V8 SuperTourer teams complete two 60 minute practice sessions on Saturday, then there were separate qualifying sessions for co-drivers and lead drivers. Originally scheduled to be 60 laps each, the two races on Sunday were shortened to 56 laps each when officials reviewed likely fuel usage versus tank capacity. Each driver had to start one race each with the start order determined by relative qualifying times.

JMR's strategy saw McIntyre and Richards start the first race – McIntyre gridded up sixth, Richards ninth.

By the time Richards pitted on lap 32 he was up to fifth before handing over to 18-year-old former Suzuki Swift Cup champion William Bamber in his first-ever V8 touring car race. Around the usual re-shuffling of race order once all the pit stops were complete, Bamber took advantage of the opportunity to pass a number of cars to bring the #556 JMR Falcon home in seventh place.

"You couldn't ask for a better introduction to V8 SuperTourers," says Bamber, formally of Wanganui and now based in Auckland. "Driving with Steve, with his massive experience and two Bathurst wins, it's been brilliant."

Meanwhile, now in the lead, McIntyre held off pitting until the last possible lap and was able to take advantage of the safety car being called out on the same lap. With tyres holding up well, McIntyre was delighted to see Lester do a great job to wrap up the race with third place behind the pairings of Jack Perkins and Nick Cassidy, and Scott McLaughlin and Jonathan Webb.

Lester said: "John made my job really easy and I just drove nice and straight to bring it home."

After the lunchtime break and a refuelling interval, Bamber and Lester gridded up in 11th and 13th respectively.

Bamber explains what came next. "Everyone went wide into turn one and with Jono behind me, we took an inside line. Then Andre Heimgartner's engine blew right on the corner and several were caught up in that, so we both improved seven places coming out of turn one!"

McIntyre praised the young co-drivers. "They both showed really good judgement and Jono really set us up for another podium with #47 with the way he came through the first part of race two. Again we were in the lead when we pitted. When I came out, I was determined to catch Richard Moore just in front of me – I had to think about balancing pace against how much fuel was left, so to finish with a second podium position was excellent."

Finishing race two in ninth, Richards comments: "We have little improvements to make – the race pace is not quite there in order for us to get both cars in the top three, but to finish the weekend with both cars damage-free, Jono and Will doing a great job and really good teamwork, we're in a strong position looking at the final two enduros this season."

Next up for the team is a similar endurance race format at Pukekohe Park Raceway over the weekend of 26-28 October, then the season finale in Christchurch 23 to 25 November.

McIntyre and Lester at TaupoMcIntyre and Richards in top ten qualifiers for V8 SuperTourer's Father's Day 400

Nelson's John McIntyre, the current V8SuperTourer points leader, and Melbourne-based team-mate Stephen Richards are among the top ten qualifiers for the inaugural V8 SuperTourer endurance event in Taupo this weekend.

McIntyre, the V8 SuperTourers' sprint champion, admits he's definitely not happy with the qualifying speed shown by either of the two John McIntyre Racing Fords during Saturday's two qualifying sessions.

"But we're very confident about the cars in race trim as that's what we focussed on today during the two 60-minute practice sessions," says McIntyre, whose two-car team is the only one of the now 20-strong V8 SuperTourer field based at Ricoh Taupo Motorsport Park.

"A lot can happen during 400 kilometres of racing on a circuit like Taupo with 14 corners."

McIntyre's co-driver Jono Lester, the 22-year-old international endurance driver based in Auckland, qualified 16th in the co-driver session.

Meanwhile Richards' co-driver, 18-year-old William Bamber, bought the #556 CRC Motornews.co.nz Ford through with the 12th quickest time. This means the former Suzuki Swift Cup champion from Wanganui was one of the quickest New Zealand-based drivers in the co-driver session which was filled with more experienced, international drivers.

The actual starting order will depend on which driver starts each race.

"Each driver must start one of the two races and the start order will be determined by their respective qualifying times. While I qualified eighth quickest in the lead driver session today, I may not start in eighth – it depends on the actual qualifying times of the drivers nominated to start my race."

McIntyre says the team will work hard on their driver change and pit-stop processes overnight.

"Preparation and practice is vital in making the most of every opportunity to save a tenth of a second and even in a 60 lap, 200 kilometre endurance race, the final result can come down to the tiniest margin.

"We're all really looking forward to racing tomorrow and it's fair to say where we grid up isn't where we expect to finish!"

Sunday's schedule

- 9.30 am – hot lap rides

- 10.15 am – driver autograph signing session

- 11.25 am – race one 60 laps, 200 km

- 1.15 pm – refuel session and pit walk

- 1.45 pm – race two 60 laps, 200 km

"Remember, if you're not at the track, you can follow the results online via www.v8st.co.nz or watch TV3 from 1 pm Sunday for four hours of coverage."

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