United Video racer Craig Baird MNZM has high expectations at defending his maiden NZ V8s title as the Gold Coast based Kiwi eyes steering the #1 Ford Falcon in to the record books
Contested over seven rounds starting at Pukekohe this weekend (6-7 November 2010); Baird will conclude the title chase at the Hamilton V8 Supercar weekend mid-April 2011.
“I’m out for the double double,” said the racer veteran who secured both the 2009/2010 NZ V8s title and Porsche Cup Challenge last summer.
“Winning two premier race championships in the same season hasn’t been done before so if I can double my double will make it very hard for anyone to repeat.”
Fresh from championship competition in Asia, Baird says being continually behind the wheel is a real advantage when it comes to being sharp from the start. That’s despite not having driven the car since seizing the NZ V8s title at Taupo earlier this year. Using the same United Video Ford Falcon, he says its preparation for the coming season is nothing short of perfect. Father-in-law Garry Pedersen is principally involved at ensuring it’s ready for what will be the third season with Baird behind the wheel.
“Garry and Dennis (Huijser) supply me a very good tool to work with – as they know the car so well. And being our third year I think it will be a little bit easier; I’ve got two years under my belt, won some races, got a few pole positions, won a championship – so I don’t have to prove anything to people, just get out there and do what I do.”
Another point Baird hammers home as pivotal to success: consistency within the team.
“I think it means a lot to any driver – having the same guys, who are obviously at the top of their game, on your team. While it’s similar for the likes of John McIntyre, and Kayne Scott too in some ways, knowing everyone and what they do gives confidence in knowing exactly what I have and need to do.”
Also contesting the Porsche Cup Challenge with Triple X Motorsport, Baird says the two cars are worlds apart, but changes to the brake package available to the NZ V8s cars should help make it a more precision tool.
“What I found last year, is when you start off the back of the grid with Johnny Mac and Kayne Scott in the reverse-grid race, we all come charging through for a while. But as you get through to the front of the field, where the slower cars are, they are harder to pass because you’ve got no brakes left and the engine is overheating, the driver is getting worn out – you’ve used everything up. So this year with the new brake packages on the car we can probably push harder for longer – you don’t have to be as sympathetic. So that should make for harder racing and mix things up a bit more.”
With a shakedown session around Pukekohe’s 2.841 kilometre circuit off Manukau Road on Friday afternoon, Baird will then treat hospitality guests to a hot-lap opportunity late in the day before the weekend of competition. Following a double test session early Saturday, Baird starts a two-tier qualifying session that cuts the field for the top-ten to complete a one-lap shoot-out for the first race start position. Sunday’s first of three races begins at 10:40am, the 12-lap race followed by a second from 1:25pm with the full reverse-grid 22-lap race scheduled for 3:45pm.
“I’m looking forward to it,” concluded Baird. “Pukekohe isn’t my favourite track, but it it’s only the start of the season.”
The United Video Racing team would like to acknowledge the support from United Video, LeasePlan, Hauraki and WD-40 in their chase for a successive V8s title.
2010/2011 BNT V8s championship calendar
1 5-7 November 2010 Pukekohe
2 26-28 November 2010 Ruapuna
3 14-16 January 2011 Teretonga
4 21-23 January 2011 Levels
5 11-13 February 2011 Manfeild
6 11-13 March 2011 Taupo
7 TBA April 2011 Hamilton