New season, new car, new challenge

By Catherine Pattison on Sat, 19 Aug 2017 | Latest News
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Simon Gilbertson's new Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup MR is put through its paces at a wet Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, in Taupo, recently by its owner and his South Island Endurance Series co-driver John McIntyre. PHOTO: JOHN COWPLAND/ALPHAPIX

Keeping it fresh is important for circuit racing aficionado John McIntyre, that's why he is starting the South Island's 2017 endurance season in a Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup MR.

This glorious evolution, which is based on the 991 GT3 street car, is only the second of its kind in the country.

After turning 40 earlier this year, it is just the type of challenge McIntyre enjoys, as he enters his 28th racing season.

‘‘It's a disease going motor racing, you can't shake it,'' McIntyre said, with a laugh.

The new Porsche is owned by his Hawkes Bay-based endurance racing partner of the past season, Simon Gilbertson. He joined McIntyre as the co-driver in Inky Tulloch's Camaro GT3 when Tulloch suffered serious injuries following a crash at Teretonga Park, Invercargill, last year.

Gilbertson and McIntyre were able to test the Porsche at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park in Taupo last week in less than ideal conditions.

‘‘I don't think I've had a wetter one really,'' McIntyre said.

Despite the rain, the two drivers were able to run in the engine and begin refining their processes in the Porsche ahead of the opening round of the South Island Endurance Series (SIES), which begins at Teretonga on September 9.

Although the rain-affected Taupo track only allowed them to use the Porsche at ‘‘six tenths'' of its capabilities, they were still able to get a feel for the speed of this car, which was produced by multiple Nurburgring 24 Hour winners and the outfit taking care of the factory Porsche RSR World Endurance Championship cars, Manthey Racing.

‘‘It was a very positive experience,'' McIntyre said.

Adapting to and getting the best out of a new car could take time and their goal for the SIES was to be one of the top 20 qualifiers for the 2017/18 New Zealand Endurance Championships. If successful, they will join the top 20 cars from the recently-completed North Island Endurance Series for a winner takes all race in March next year.

‘‘We are learning as we go with the car. Hopefully by the time we get to Timaru [SIES' third and final round] we should be starting to feel pretty comfortable,'' McIntyre said.

The SIES has announced it will drop the GT and 0-1600cc classes this season. The GT class has been split into two separate divisions, series secretary Chris Dunn explained.

‘‘Class D is for the GT cars including Porsche 997 and 991 Cup cars, V8 SuperTourers and the likes whilst the new Class E is for the FIA GT3 type cars. While we were having a rehash of the classes and names, we also officially combined our old 0-1600cc and 1601-2000cc classes into Class A 0-2000cc which is what has happened over the past few seasons regardless,'' he said.

The other capacity-based classes remain unchanged, although they have been renamed.

With separate races for the one-hour and three-hour series, both have class categories, which are: Class A, 0-2000cc; Class B, 2001-3500cc; Class C, 3501cc and over; Class D for GT type cars and in the three hour series, Class E for the FIA GT3 machinery.

‘‘The great thing about this series is that we always have such a great mixture of cars across all the classes. No matter what car you have there will always be someone at your pace to race with, plus its often the smaller more reliable cars that are the most impressive as they work their way up through the fields,'' Dunn said.

After the opening round at Teretonga, the SIES will move to Christchurch for round two on September 30 and the final will be in Timaru on October 14.