Top Kiwi combo, McIntyre and van Gisbergen, reunites for V8SC Phillip Island enduro

Top New Zealand race driver John McIntyre teams up with young Kiwi star Shane van Gisbergen for the first time in three years to compete in this weekend’s Phillip Island endurance round of the Australian V8 Supercars.

McIntyre is delighted to rejoin Stone Brothers Racing for his second year for the V8 Supercars’ ‘season of endurance’, which starts at the L&H Phillip Island 500, running 10 to 12 September.

John McIntyre and Shane van GisbergenThe team’s directors have paired McIntyre with van Gisbergen for the three 2010 endurance races and, with ‘the Giz’ currently fourth in the V8SC championship, the duo is regarded as the top all-Kiwi driver pairing. Last year McIntyre successfully paired with another New Zealander, Daniel Gaunt, for two endurance drives with SBR.

“I feel privileged to drive with SBR again. To be in my second year with the team and in their lead car with Shane is a proud achievement,” says ‘Johnny Mac’.

“I’ve had the best preparation for the V8SC enduros I have ever experienced. Ross and Jimmy [Stone] at SBR have gone out of their way to give me quality laps in the car and it now feels like a very familiar race-car to me,” the Nelson-based driver says.

“My fitness is the best it has ever been thanks again to the direction from SBR and their trainer Bluey. I’ve been training for around four months at home in our own gym. It’s hard not having others around to push you, but I just keep thinking about the potential we have for a great result and that gets me through!”

A test day last week, plus an earlier test session, has seen McIntyre enjoy considerable time behind the wheel of the #9 SP Tools Racing Falcon. The most recent test saw the team-mates sharpen their high-speed driver changes during pit-stops. While team tactics haven’t yet been discussed, McIntyre acknowledges van Gisbergen’s excellent performances and numerous podium positions this year. “Plans will firm up closer to the race and we all expect to keep that position [fourth] or improve on it.”

Widely regarded as one of the best touring car drivers in New Zealand, McIntyre isn’t resting on his laurels and makes the most of the opportunity to learn and improve while he’s with SBR.

“I first drove with Shane in 2007 and he was pretty raw but the talent he displayed was amazing. Now three years on Shane has matured into a professional driver and he really goes about his racing in the right way. I am learning from him at every test, so it’s great for my driving.

“I have had to push really hard over the years to be considered for the enduros by any team, such is the high calibre of drivers on the market. Now with this second year with SBR and in the lead car with Shane, this environment is really helping my driving and, although I’m 33-years-old, you never stop learning. At the latest test – just last Thursday – I made some more gains with my driving style which will only complement my form in my own NZV8 at home. The goal now is to reward SBR’s faith in me with a great result in the enduros.”

The SBR Ford to be used by John McIntyreThis year’s three-round enduro programme for McIntyre at SBR takes in the L&H Phillip Island 500, then October’s two big events: the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 (7 to 10 October) and the Armor All Gold Coast 600 (22 to 24 October).

The Phillip Island schedule sees McIntyre and van Gisbergen join other V8SC competitors for three practice sessions on Friday, and two practice sessions, two qualifying sessions and two qualifying races on Saturday, before Sunday’s 113-lap race starting at 1:35pm. The Phillip Island, southeast from Melbourne, is 4.5 km in length with the V8 Supercars averaging 174 km/h and reaching top speeds of 290 km/h around the undulating circuit. TV3 provides coverage of the event 2pm on Sunday 12 September.

Attached images are free to use. Please credit Stone Brothers Racing.

John McIntyre’s 2010-11 racing schedule
10-12 Sept 2010 – L&H Phillip Island 500 (SBR)
7-10 Sept 2010 – Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 (SBR)
22-24 Oct 2010 – Armor All Gold Coast 600 (SBR)
5-7 Nov 2010 – NZV8 Championship round 1: Pukekohe Park (JMR)
26-28 Nov 2010 – NZV8 Championship round 2:    Ruapuna Park (JMR)
14-16 Jan 2011 – NZV8 Championship round 3: Teretonga Park (JMR)
21-23 Jan 2011 – NZV8 Championship round 4:    Timaru (JMR)
11-13 Feb 2011 – NZV8 Championship round 5:    Manfeild* (JMR)
18-20 Mar 2011 – NZV8 Championship round 6:    Taupo*  (JMR)
15-17 Apr 2011 – ITM 400 V8SC support races, Hamilton* (JMR)
* Dates still to be confirmed

Delighted McIntyre takes well-earned NZ V8 podium finish at Manfeild

John McIntyre is very happy with his weekend’s racing in round four of the BNT V8s Championship at Manfeild in Fielding. Two fourth places and a third earned the two-time NZ V8 champion third place for the weekend and pulled him back into second position on the points-table with one round of the series to run in Taupo on 20 and 21 March.

“We’re rapt with the results. To be on the podium after all that’s happened – rebuilding the car after that uncontrollable crash in the wet in Timaru – we’re just delighted to have our championship chase back on track,” says McIntyre who drives the Prime Explosives Ford.

The Nelson-based driver was started in fourth and finished fourth in the first hard-fought 12-lapper. The second 12-lap race saw McIntyre improve to third, then he was fourth in the reverse grid 22-lapper after driving through the field from 20th on the starting grid.

“It’s fair to say we’ve had three of the best races we’ve ever had in the NZ V8 series. The racing between Craig Baird (who currently leads the series) and me was just fantastic. Real serious, hard-fought, evenly-matched and fair racing. We could see the crowd on their feet cheering – it was brilliant!”

After having to complete a major rebuild of the Prime Explosives Ford in the three weeks between the Timaru and Manfeild events, McIntyre says it was particularly rewarding for the whole John McIntyre Racing team to see the speed evident in the JMR car.

“We had the fastest lap time of the race in the 17th of 22 laps in the last race – that’s really significant in these longer races. We changed and improved the car all weekend and the evidence of these changes could be seen in this very good car speed.”

McIntyre admits some disappointment, having not actually won a race. “But we did our best, kept trying as hard as we could. At one point we’d slipped on some oil from Eddie Bell, giving Craig a gap he took advantage of... But at the end of day, we’ve rebuilt the car, it’s very competitive and we’ll go into the last championship round in Taupo with the same ‘never say never’ attitude that’s kept us going through the last three weeks.”

With a total of 721 points, McIntyre is second to Baird by 131 points. “It’s not over yet. I went into the last round at Teretonga two seasons ago with 130 point lead, thinking the series was pretty much mine, and then it came down to a crucial battle in the very last race of the championship for the title, which I won, but it wasn’t a sure thing until that last race!”

McIntyre and his team at John McIntyre Racing extends their thanks to sponsors Talley's, Castrol Edge, Protector Safety, Prime Explosives, Ford NZ, The Rock FM, Ideal Electrical, Websters Hydrated Lime, Avon City Ford, BP Ultimate, Dynamic Fluid Systems, Speedshow, Cookes Wirerope, Colorfast Signs, City Collision Repairs Napier, and others for their ongoing support.

BNT V8s Points after five Rounds (Top five)
1, Craig Baird, Gold Coast, Ford, 852
2, John McIntyre, Nelson, Ford, 721
3, Tim Edgell, Auckland, Ford, 705
4, Kayne Scott, Hamilton, Ford, 676
5, Eddie Bell, Christchurch, Ford, 661

McIntyre to start from fourth for BNT V8s at Manfeild

Heavy rain meant the top ten shootout for John McIntyre and other top NZ V8 competitors was cancelled this afternoon at the Manfeild racing circuit in Fielding. The starting positions for Sunday’s first 12-lap race were decided by the lap times set in the second qualifying segment when McIntyre and the Prime Explosives-backed Ford set the fourth-fastest time of 1:13.548.

“We’re very happy with how our weekend is going so far,” says McIntyre whose team has worked furiously for the past three weeks to repair the John McIntyre Racing Ford after an uncontrollable slide on a slick Timaru circuit at the end of January caused major damage.

“This morning we were out for testing – the first time we’d driven the car after its big repair job – and were happy to post the second fastest time of the first session. In the next round of practice, we were third fastest – again, we were happy with the car.

“The first segment of qualifying was run in the dry and everyone was pushing hard; we were sixth quickest. Initially the second segment was dry as well, but spits of rain started partway through, and then the rain came down. Officials decided it would not be fair to run the top ten shootout in such changeable conditions – some drivers might get a fully wet track, some a track covered in puddles – so you can’t run a shootout in those conditions.”

McIntyre says, as always, he loves being at Manfeild – it’s one of his favourite circuits.

“From fourth, we’re on the outside which isn’t necessarily a bad place to be going into the first right-hander – that’s always a tight battle at Manfeild.

“We’re very happy with the car and very happy to be up the front, so now we’re looking forward to Sunday’s races!”

On pole for the 9:55 am race will be Tim Edgell, then Craig Baird, Kayne Scott, McIntyre and Angus Fogg rounds out the top five. Sunday also sees a second 12-lap race at 12:55pm followed by the reverse grid 22-lapper at 4pm.

McIntyre is currently third on the championship points-table with 553 points, just two away from second-placed Eddie Bell and 115 points away from Baird, the current series leader. The Manfeild round is the penultimate round of the 2009-10 NZ V8 touring car series, so just six races remain with a maximum of 75 points for the winner of each race up for grabs.

McIntyre and his team at John McIntyre Racing extends their thanks to sponsors Talley's, Castrol Edge, Protector Safety, Prime Explosives, Ford NZ, The Rock FM, Ideal Electrical, Websters Hydrated Lime, Avon City Ford, BP Ultimate, Dynamic Fluid Systems, Speedshow, Cookes Wirerope, Colorfast Signs, City Collision Repairs Napier, and others for their ongoing support.

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