The opening round of the 2009/10 BNT V8s Championship will commence this coming weekend with Round 1 set to fire at Pukekohe Park Raceway near Auckland
The V8s are the crowd favourites and officially New Zealand’s premier motor racing category which forms the headline act for this summer’s Motor Racing Championship Series.
As the profile of the Championship Series increases with each season, the competition becomes more intense with several drivers having a good chance of winning the Championship. Once again the entry list is headed by the reigning BNT V8s Champion Kayne Scott from Hamilton. Having already won two titles in impressive style, Scott will be determined to steer his Ford Falcon to a record setting three championships but can expect stiff opposition from a group of former Champions.
The favourite challenger to Scott will be Nelson’s John McIntyre (Ford Falcon, pictured) who is also a double Champion keen on reinstating himself at the head of the points table come next March. “Johnny Mac” battled with Scott to the last race of last season to finish runner up and has decided to continue to race in the V8s category to regain the title he wants to make his own.
Also challenging for top honours will be Queensland based Kiwi legend and Jim Clark Trophy winner Craig Baird (Ford Falcon). Originally from Hamilton, the vastly experienced “Bairdo” was a surprise package in his debut season when he quickly adapted to the BNT V8s environment to make the Championship podium after some well executed race wins.
Although the Falcon drivers head into the opening round with some confidence, a determined assault is expected from the Holden camp, spearheaded by the new “Commodore Consortium” of former Champions Andy Booth, Paul Manuell and Andrew Anderson, all from Auckland, who have pooled their resources and technical data to wrestle the advantage away from the blue oval teams.
Another crowd pleaser returning is Auckland’s Angus Fogg (Ford Falcon), a regular race winner who has yet to nail down the title but is seen as a serious title contender. Having run at the head of the field for several seasons, the determined “Foggy” will be looking to use all his guile and cunning to outfox his opponents in what could vey well be his best season to date.
Snapping at the wheels of the favoured front runners will be another group of highly experienced drivers capable of staking their claim as serious challengers including Auckland’s Tim Edgell (Ford Falcon), Cambridge’s Nick Ross (Holden Commodore). The impressive Eddie Bell (Canterbury) will be looking to capitalise on his excellent 2009 season result and former NZ Grand Prix winner Andy Knight (Christchurch) is sure to increase his pace in his second V8s season. Both drivers will be seen in Ford Falcons.
Another interesting addition to the equation will be the reappearance of hard charging Clark Proctor (Auckland) who sat out last season and returns with a new Ford Falcon fully refreshed and keen to show he has lost none of his competitive edge. Darryn Henderson (Ford Falcon) also returns to the fold after a season racing Porsches while Hamilton’s Simon Richards (Ford Falcon) returns for another shot at the title.
Newcomers to the BNT V8s Championship always add another dimension and this season will be no exception. Major interest will surround the debut performances of former New Zealand Formula Ford Champion John Whelan (Dunedin) and New Zealand’s top female racing driver Christina Orr (Whakatane) who will be piloting a Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore respectively.
The coming season will also see changes to the weekend format for each round with free practice and qualifying taking place on Saturday morning and afternoon with all three races scheduled to be run on the Sunday. The new format will not only increase the pressure for drivers and teams but will also test organisers who must adhere to strict timetables as television coverage of the BNT V8s races will be broadcast as live on TV3.
Together with the new race format, a new qualifying procedure will be used comprising a 20 minute session involving all drivers with the fastest 20 moving onto the next 15 minute session. The top ten will then contest a Bathurst style single lap “shoot out” after which the starting grid for Race 1 will be determined. The grid for Race 2 will be the finishing order from Race 1 with the Race 3 grid determined by the combined points from the first two races then reversed so the best performing driver starts from the rear.
The schedule for Pukekohe this weekend will see Race 1 (12 laps) starting at 10:00 am with Race 2 (12 laps) at 12:55 pm and the feature reverse grid Race 3 (22 laps) scheduled to start at 3:35 pm.
2009/10 BNT V8s Calendar:
Round 1 Pukekohe Park Raceway, Pukekohe 6-8th November 2009
Round 2 Powerbuilt Tools Raceway, Christchurch 27-29th November 2009
Round 3 Teretonga Park, Invercargill 15-17th January 2010
Round 4 Timaru International Raceway, Timaru 22-24h January 2010
Round 5 Manfeild Park, Feilding 12-14th February 2010
Round 6 Taupo Motorport Park, Taupo 19-21st March 2010
Trophy Event Hamilton 400, Hamilton 16-18th April 2010