McIntyre returns to racing with top result

McIntyre incarNelson’s John McIntyre finished Saturday’s three-hour endurance car race second overall at the opening round of the 2015 North Island Endurance Race Series.

Held at the Taupo motor race circuit McIntyre and Southland car owner Inky Tulloch started and finished as fastest car – despite an unscheduled five extra laps in the pits.

Entered for its first full race season the German built Sareni Reiter Camaro GT3 car is still being developed to suit the atypical New Zealand conditions – including its first time to the Taupo location.
One of five in the world the car suffered an engine oil heat exchanger failure early in the race, setting the team back as they fought to construct a solution to keep the car running.

“We are really happy to have recovered from losing five laps to finish second,” said McIntyre.

“Which is the key to endurance racing: you don’t always have to be fastest car to win. Plus it highlights this car is in a development phase compared to the Ferrari and Porsche cars we were competing against – with their ten plus years of competing at GT3 level. So this was the perfect shakedown and we were lucky to get a result as well.

“Also; if there were ever an advocate for the ideal team this was it. We had to stop two extra times and in-between the crew designed a solution they fitted in the final pit stop. That took me from driving a car hazed in Castrol oil to being a nice clear cabin with a working gearbox. It was one of the best team efforts I’ve ever seen actually.”

Back behind the wheel of a European built race car McIntyre has paired with Tulloch and the Tulloch Motorsport GT3 Camaro for the three-round North Island series and will also contest the parent South Island three-round contest later in the year.

“We have learned so much this weekend. If we’d had a dream run, in a way we would have come away in a weaker position. We have got issues we know how to address and that is what makes the difference in endurance racing. The car that beat us is a car that has done a full season of endurance racing last year.”

Featuring a ‘Le Mans’ style start, Tulloch began the three-hour race once McIntyre completed the 200m dash from pit lane to tag the race-ready driver. Working through to fourth position by the end of the first hour despite the compounding issue of the oil heat exchanger, multiple New Zealand racing champion Tulloch handed the car over to McIntyre. The freshly serviced car allowed McIntyre to easily set fastest outright lap time early in to his stint. Following the repeat and unscheduled stops McIntyre took the chequered flag one lap behind the leading car and two laps clear of the third placed finisher.

Four weeks until the series second round (Hampton Downs, 27 June) the 35 car field is to expand with the inclusion of a Mosler and Audi R8.

TFM on final countdown to historic Bathurst 12 Hour start

TFM FerrariThe first all-New Zealand team to take on the premier race at Bathurst - the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest 12 hour endurance motorsport event – will have their million dollar Ferrari on route to Australia by the end of the week.

The Trass Family Motorsport team completed their final shakedown in the Ferrari 458 Italia at Hampton Downs earlier this month and are now in the final stages of workshop preparation before shipping out this Friday.

The campaign represents the first all-Kiwi to complete in A Class for outright honours. The team will be up against the factory giants from all over the world at Mt Panorama between February 6th – 8th. Bathurst is regarded as one of the toughest endurance circuits in the world.

The team’s lead driver is 25-year-old Jono Lester, who is brimming with confidence off the back of two successful seasons of GT3 racing in Japan. He will receive crucial support from multiple NZV8 and NZ SuperTourer champion John McIntyre who is the only team member with significant Bathurst experience from many years of competing in the V8 Supercar endurance races. Rounding out the team is impressive Highlands 101 debutant Graeme Smyth, who at 23 is better known for his Championship wins in KZ2 shifter karts, but in a whirlwind few months has been given the huge Bathurst opportunity as a GT3 Development driver.

The team has also been working off the track to make sure they are in peak physical condition to take on the gruelling 6.2km circuit.

The team is aiming for a top ten finish in the 55-strong field which will feature teams from Australia, Germany, Italy, Japan, USA, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Germany and of course New Zealand. Ferrari enjoys the most outright representation with seven cars followed by Audi (six), Mercedes-Benz (five), Bentley (three), Aston Martin (three), Lamborghini (two), Porsche (two), Nissan (one) and McLaren (one).

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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