V8SuperTourer leader McIntyre wants more at Manfeild; Richards gunning for podium
John McIntyre has the championship lead as the exciting new V8SuperTourer series heads to Manfeild Autocourse in Feilding this weekend, but the three-time New Zealand V8 touring car champion won't be resting on his laurels.
"We have worked hard to get me and the #47 Talley's Ford into the points lead and we will need to work even harder to stay there!" says McIntyre from his home-base in Nelson.
McIntyre, his Taupo-based John McIntyre Racing team and team-mate Steve Richards, who pilots the #556 CRC Ford FG V8SuperTourer, are ready to travel to Feilding for the 27 to 29 April race meeting, round three of the V8SuperTourer series.
McIntyre adds: "I do enjoy being in the points lead; it changes your mindset quite a bit and the whole team has a spring in their step after our first win in the second round's feature race at Ruapuna Raceway in Christchurch at Easter. We're making the most of having the lead. Just look at where JMR has come from already this season – qualifying 13th for the first-ever race and now we're leading. We always have the end goal in mind – and that's winning the sprint championship title in June.
"But we're also mindful that our qualifying still needs to improve. We really need to be in the top four to make a good weekend for points like we did in Christchurch when I qualified third."
The late April race meeting marks the first time that the V8SuperTourers have raced at Manfeild. With tens of thousands of fans having enjoyed the first two events, the series' inaugural season is expected to continue with another well-attended weekend in the Manawatu.
McIntyre has been victorious in numerous races at Manfeild – it was the first circuit he ever raced on at the age of 13 – so he's looking forward to getting his V8SuperTourer out onto its three kilometres of slick tarmac.
"I do really enjoy Manfeild because of its relatively high speed corners and banking. You are always charging at Manfeild unlike, say, Ruapuna where you have to be very delicate with the car in some sections.
"I think our cars will go well at Manfeild because we seem to be very strong under brakes – in fact, the brakes are a key strength of the whole V8SuperTourer package and JMR seems to have a particular strength in this regard. Manfeild has three very significant braking zones and there's lot of time to be gained or lost in those zones, depending on your car's abilities under brakes."
McIntyre adds: "We'll be looking to attack under brakes for sure, but if the current run of good weather ends this weekend – showers are forecast – we could be facing our first wet race which will create a new, level playing field for everyone."
Richards, the two-time Bathurst winner who's joined JMR for the four-round 2012 V8SuperTourer sprint championship, flies in from his Melbourne home on Thursday evening.
"Now that we have confirmed the support of CRC for this and the final round of the sprint championship at Hampton Downs at the beginning of June, it's given John, the team and me some certainty for preparing for this race meeting," says Richards, who improved from tenth to ninth on the leader-board after the second round.
"I have driven at Manfeild – in the reverse direction during Targa New Zealand in 2004 – but it won't take more than four or five laps to get a handle on it and I'm really looking forward to getting back in the #556 CRC Ford."
JMR's engineering team, headed by Jason Liefting, has been working through recently-supplied engine oil pressure and temperature updates that apply for all cars in the category. McIntyre says JMR's engineers have been working hard in the two-and-a-half weeks between rounds, focussing on fixing the little problems that dogged the team in Christchurch.
"Essentially I'm chasing John in order to move up the points-table," says Richards. "I know the guys have been working really hard and the good thing about the three-day format of our Manfeild round is that we have a bit more time to test and amend things. We're definitely gunning for both JMR cars to be on the podium at Manfeild."
McIntyre and the two cars make two promotional appearances on Thursday 26 April, at Ideal Electrical in Lombard Street and Blackwoods Protector on Tremaine Avenue from 10 to 11am and 12 to 1pm respectively. Then on Friday 27 April, McIntyre and Richards join fellow V8SuperTourer drivers in The Square in central Palmerston North for an autograph signing session from 12 to 1pm which also features a display of all the V8SuperTourer race cars.
The Manfeild V8SuperTourer round starts with a 90 minute Friday afternoon practice session. On Saturday McIntyre and Richards join V8SuperTourer competitors for an hour long practice at 9:55am, then a 30 minute qualifying session at 1:30pm before a 20 lap race at 3:30pm. Sunday's schedule includes a 25 lap race at 11:40am and the feature race with extra points on offer of 30 laps at 2:45pm.