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.
The 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.”
This 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