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Category: V8 SuperTourer

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.

John McIntyre and Jono LesterJohn McIntyre has selected the multi-talented, race-winning Jono Lester to be his co-driver in the V8SuperTourers’ three-round endurance race series, which runs from September to November this year.

McIntyre, based in Nelson, says the 22-year-old New Zealander has an impressive pedigree of international race successes which sits well alongside his sound knowledge of the three circuits where the endurance races will run.

“Jono Lester is the perfect partner for me in the #47 JMR Falcon; he’s a talented Kiwi on the rise,” says McIntyre. “I have watched, as a teenager, he won races, rounds and pole positions in the New Zealand Porsche GT3 Cup and then went onto be fifth fastest in 2010 Porsche Supercup world final at Monza in Italy. This year he has been chosen to drive a 6.2-litre 600 hp V8 Mercedes Benz SLS in the Super Taikyu endurance series in Japan. So for me he clearly has the raw speed we require and now he is getting high level experience in Japan to compliment his speed; it’s an easy choice.”

Lester says he is excited by McIntyre’s invitation to join him as the team’s enduro driver.

“John runs, in my opinion, the best operation in the championship, on and off the track, and he is totally professional about his motor racing. So to partner John, whom I rate very highly, is such a wonderful opportunity for me,” says Lester, who lives in central Auckland and hails from Manawatu.

Lester says the endurance racing experience he’s presently gaining in Japan is proving invaluable.

“The six-round Super Taikyu endurance series features three to four hour long races with a field of 45 cars of all speeds and marques, and the key to winning comes just as much down to traffic handling as raw speed,” explains Lester. “All of the FIA GT3-spec cars in the class I contest feature at least one former Super GT 300 and 500 championship winner in their driver line-up, so there are some really competitive benchmarks here.”

McIntyre highlights Lester’s fitness as another essential element for the JMR V8SuperTourer endurance drive.

“We anticipate thetwo-driver endurance races will be more like long sprint races, due to the tyres and the balance of the cars,” says McIntyre. “So Jono’s incredibly high level of fitness adds to his credibility, as does the fact he knows all three circuits – Taupo, Pukekohe and Ruapuna – extremely well.”

Lester steps into the JMR #47 race car for the first time this Friday (1 June) at Hampton Downs, getting a run in the first two-hour practice session of the weekend to learn more about the car and how the team operates.

“We want to give Jono every opportunity to get up to speed in our V8SuperTourer. Due to the fact he is currently driving a faster GT3-spec Mercedes, he should find the SuperTourer an easy car to drive. Jono will start our practice this Friday to get a taste of things to come before handing it back to me for the rest of the weekend. We need him ready to win races in September,” comments McIntyre.

The V8SuperTourer endurance race format is currently being finalised, as is the date for the first endurance event at Taupo Motorsport Park in September. The last weekend in October sees a 500 kilometre event scheduled at Pukekohe Park Raceway and the endurance championship wraps up at Ruapuna outside Christchurch on the final weekend of 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.

Photo by Geoff Ridder.

Andre HeimgartnerNew Zealand’s youngest ever national motorsport champion Andre Heimgartner will make his touring car debut in the high powered world of V8 SuperTourer racing next season in a deal announced today.

Heimgartner, from East Auckland, will drive a second Holden Commodore VE II V8 SuperTourer for the multi-championship winning AV8 Motorsport team as team mate to veteran V8 racer and two time NZV8 champion Andy Booth.

In March this year Heimgartner made history when the year 11 student from St Kentigern College took out the NZ Formula Ford title at just 15 years of age, making him the youngest ever national championship winner. The step up from a 115 horsepower open wheel race car to a full blown 600hp, 7 litre V8 SuperTourer will be a big challenge for the youngster but Andre says he can’t wait to line up on the grid at the inaugural round of the V8 SuperTourer Series in February next year.

“To be honest, this is quite unreal, a dream come true much sooner than I could have imagined. To be able to advance my career like this and have the opportunity to learn from and test myself against some of the best drivers in Australasia is something I had to jump at. I’m so thankful for this chance I’ve been given by AV8 and my supporters; I hope to be able to repay their confidence with my performance on track”

When asked about the new V8 SuperTourer car Andre added:

“The car is the most exciting thing I’ve seen in NZ Motorsport, it’s going to be a big step up for me for sure but I can’t wait to drive a real racing touring car with that much power”

Another huge boost for Andre is the opportunity to work alongside and be mentored by such an experienced team mate in Andy Booth. The double NZV8 champion and former NZ Grand Prix winner is also a co-owner of the AV8 Motorsport team was instrumental in the decision to offer the young champion this opportunity.

“I’m really looking forward to working with Andre and doing what I can to help his career path in motorsport. We’ve talked for several years about wanting to run a young up and coming driver in a development role alongside me and in Andre I feel we’ve found that guy. He’s got obvious talent and is driven to succeed, hopefully I can help develop his driving and assist him with the more commercial aspects of the sport as well” Booth said.

AV8 Motorsport team principle, and co-creator of the V8 SuperTourer Series, Wayne Anderson is equally enthused about bringing Andre onboard in the second car.

“It’s great to be able to make this announcement so early. For AV8 and V8 SuperTourers to be able to offer this opportunity to Andre is a big boost for both sides, the sport gets to help one of its young stars hopefully on his way to bigger things and Andre can test himself against and learn from the most experienced touring car drivers in the country. Now he needs to make the most of that”

The new V8 SuperTourer Series will take place over 7 rounds from Feb to Oct 2012 starting at Hampton Downs on Feb 17/18/19. Featuring four door touring cars built on a control race chassis and powered by 7 litre fuel injected engines with 6 speed sequential gearboxes. Billed as the ‘V8 Series of Champions’, it will feature the strongest competitor line up seen in recent times in NZ.