McIntyre & LesterCurrent V8SuperTourer points leader John McIntyre is expecting a cracking race pace at the inaugural V8 SuperTourer endurance event in Taupo next weekend.

Fresh from winning the first V8 SuperTourers’ sprint championship in June, McIntyre’s team, John McIntyre Racing, is preparing for the Father’s Day 400 running at the Taupo Motorsport Park on 1 and 2 September.

The team has completed considerable testing with their two cars and the specified Hankook tyres on the Taupo circuit – they are the only team among the now 20-strong field to nominate Taupo as their test track.

Balancing that possible advantage is the fact that this is also the first endurance event that JMR, as a team, has contested after winning three NZV8 championships and the first V8 SuperTourer sprint series.

“Given the pace during the sprint championship, the entire V8 SuperTourer field will be in for 400 km of sprint racing. Testing showed us that the Hankook tyres just keep hanging on, so it will come down to the teams with the best set-up and the fittest and most accurate drivers over the distance,” says the Nelson-based driver. “We hope we will have the pace to be at the front and I’d say that it will be a very fast pace for the entire distance of 200 km for both races.”

McIntyre selected Jono Lester as his co-driver in the championship-winning #47 Blackwoods Protector FG Falcon. Lester, 22, is originally from Palmerston North and is now based in Auckland when not racing a Mercedes Benz SLS GT3 in the Super Taikyu endurance series in Japan . Melbourne-based expat Kiwi Richards continues in his role as lead driver for the #556 CRC Motornews.co.nz FG Falcon with teenage race champion William Bamber taking the co-driving role beside the double Bathurst race victor.

McIntyre says: “Jono Lester has been drilling me on fitness, Will is super fit and Richo is also in great shape as he and I are about to go into a intense season of endurance racing with three V8 SuperTourer races, plus our V8 Supercar drives at Sandown and Bathurst later in the next three months.”

The weekend’s race format comprises two 60 minute practice sessions on Saturday – starting 10:20 am and 12:30 pm – where either driver can be in the car. JMR has a manager for each car – Jason Liefting has the lead for #47 and Richard Moss heads #556 – and theirgoal will be to ensure that Lester and Bamber get even more comfortable in the cars and that everyone’s clear on the driver change and pit stop processes that combine to make a successful endurance race from start to finish.

The all-important qualifying sessions get underway at 3 pm with the co-drivers getting 20 minutes to set their best time around the challenging 3.3 km Taupo circuit. The main drivers take to the track at 3:40 pm for their 20 minutes of qualifying. Each driver’s qualifying position determines where that driver starts the race and each driver must start one of the two 60 lap races.

“Qualifying is critical in this category with so much intense competition, we want to be up the front in both races and out of the trouble,” McIntyre notes.

“In each of the 60 lap races, the maximum any one driver can do is 39 laps, the minimum 21. Each car must pit and the drivers change during the ‘window’ between laps 21 and 39. However you don’t have to change the tyres if you don’t want to.”

Between races, teams will have just 20 minutes to refuel the cars and prepare them for race two at 1:45 pm. In the break, race fans can actually come down and watch the teams completing their pit stop tasks; putting 110 or solitres in each car will take some time, so there’s plenty of action in a safer environment.

McIntyre says excitement is building among JMR fans and sponsors. “Everyone’s looking forward to the season getting underway again after the winter break. With four hours of television coverage on TV3, screening Sunday 2 September from 1-5 pm, we’ll be looking for both JMR Falcons to feature as they’re both carrying in-car cameras.”

After the Father’s Day 400 in Taupo, the V8 SuperTourer endurance series continues at Pukekohe on 27 and 28 October and wraps up at Ruapuna in Christchurch on 24 and 25 November.

More details about McIntyre and his team can be found on www.jmr.co.nz, or follow John McIntyre Racing on Facebook or ‘JohnMcIntyreRac’ on Twitter.