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New V8s And Big International Entry For Race Championships

Media Release
Thursday 10 January 2013

New V8s And Big International Entry For Race Championships

All-new Kiwi V8 touring cars and 15 international single-seater drivers highlight entries for the opening round of the New Zealand motor racing championships near Invercargill this weekend.

Designed and built in New Zealand, the new generation of NZV8s feature race-type chassis, more powerful engines and six-speed sequential gearboxes. The field includes a Toyota Camry – the first time Australasian V8 racing has included any kind of car besides Ford Falcons and Holden Commodores.

Australian V8 Supercar driver Jason Bargwanna, former winner of the Bathurst 1000km classic, is very impressed with the new-generation Commodore he is racing for the Tulloch team.

“It’s obviously a really good race car,” he says. “It feels like a V8 Supercar to drive. It’s everything – the handling, the way it feels, the braking, the power, the way it works for you. It’s a big improvement.”

Working with a whole new car – one with a complex array of possible adjustments – was going to present teams with real challenges in working out the best setups for different circuits. “It’ll be a real learning curve -- in three years’ time they’ll still be finding improvements,” the Aussie says.

Bargwanna came second in the 2012 NZV8 championship and aims to go one better this time, but expects strong competition especially from Martin Short, the young Hamilton driver who will be racing the Toyota Camry. “He’s won races and won rounds.” Bargwanna says.

He also rates Cambridge driver Nick Ross, who has a new Commodore.

Two talented teenagers from Turua, AJ Lauder and his brother Brad, are moving up to the premier class and will be the youngest drivers in the field. AJ won the 2012 Suzuki Swift championship and Brad was also a front-runner in this category. They will drive older-style Falcons.

Meanwhile the Toyota Racing Series (TRS) has become so attractive to overseas drivers that five are returning for a second season in the fast single-seaters. These include Puerto Rican Felix Serralles and Englishman Alex Lynn, who last year finished third and fourth respectively in the prestigious British Formula 3 championship.

Another returnee is Austrian Lucas Auer, nephew of former Formula One star Gerhard Berger. He came second in the 2012 German F3 championship.

Defending his title against this wave of international talent is 18-year-old Aucklander Nick Cassidy, who contested some Formula Renault events in Europe last year. He has switched from the Giles to M2 teams and says establishing good communication within his new team will be vital for success.

“I learned a lot in Europe in 2012, and one thing every race driver has to know is how to relate to their engineer and mechanics and communicate what the car is doing clearly to them,” Cassidy says.

Invercargill driver Damon Leitch, who finished third in the series last season, and Te Puke racer Michael Scott are the other Kiwis in the championship. Scott is moving up from Formula Ford after success in that category last season.

The meeting also sees the start of the 2013 Formula Ford championship, with a field of 11 including Damon Leitch’s brother Brendon.
These three classes each have one race on Saturday and two on Sunday at Invercargill's Teretonga Park raceway. The final TRS race carries the Spirit of a Nation Cup.

NZ Super Trucks kick their season off this weekend also, returning to Teretonga Park after a hiatus of almost 20 years. 2012 champion Steven Zammit from Australia has made the trip over the ditch to defend his title.

Sports and Production GT will also be racing with well-subscribed fields for both classes.

MSNZ Race Championship calendar:
Round 1: January 12-13, Teretonga (Invercargill)
Round 2: January 19-20, Timaru
TRS: January 26-27, Taupo
TRS: February 2-3, Hampton Downs
Round 3: February 9-10, Manfeild
Round 4: March 9-10, Taupo
Round 5: April 12-14, Pukekohe (V8 Supercars meeting)

Image: NZV8 Toyota Camry, being tested by Martin Short


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