Top-running V8SuperTourer driver Andy Booth has confirmed that Australian V8 Supercar driver Tony D'Alberto will join the Woodstock Racing team for all three upcoming V8SuperTourer endurance events.
Booth, from Auckland's Birkenhead, is excited about the potential of racing with D'Alberto in the #23 Woodstock Racing Holden in the three endurance rounds which commence at the Taupo Motorsport Park over the weekend of 1 to 2 September.
"Everyone at Woodstock Racing is very pleased to have someone of Tony's experience and calibre join us for the three endurance events," says Booth, who finished the inaugural V8SuperTourer sprint championship with a strong fourth place.
"Tony is no stranger to longer format racing having competed in the renowned Bathurst 1000 event seven times and he's only 26 years of age.
"With Tony's recent form in V8 Supercars and our recent performance in V8SuperTourers, we're going to make a very, very strong pairing."
D'Alberto, from Melbourne, Victoria, says he's spoken to several drivers about the new-in-2012 V8SuperTourer series.
"Everyone I've spoken to who's driven a V8SuperTourer is rapt with the cars which go down the similar line to the V8Supercar ‘car of the future' we'll embrace next year," says the 2007 Dunlop V8 Supercar Series champion who's currently contesting his fifth season in the top tier V8 Supercar championship.
"When I heard they were doing endurance races, I put my hand up. Andy's team is very professional and I'm really happy he's picked me. I think we're going make a very good team."
D'Alberto will be accompanied by his highly-regarded engineer Adam DeBorre when he lines up for the first time in the Woodstock Racing Holden at Taupo Motorsport Park on 1 September, a fact that's not lost on Booth who has worked with DeBorre before.
"The longer format racing is something that we've never done as a team," says Booth. "All our racing for the past decade has been short, sprint racing, but we're fortunate to have our team co-owner Wayne Anderson who has a win-laden history in endurance racing.
"For me personally it's going to be a very new situation to share the car with someone else. We've got to develop a car set-up and working style that involves two people. But with Tony having so much high level enduro race experience and Adam DeBorre, who has engineered podium-finishing cars at Bathurst and will work alongside our engineering team, I think the collective endurance experience and pace they bring to the team is what we need."
The first endurance event in Taupo sees teams contest two back-to-back 200 km races on Sunday, 2 September. Each race requires teams change drivers and tyres, but refuelling takes place during the brief gap between races. As Booth says: "There's huge pressure on the crew to get the prepped and ready for the second race."
D'Alberto is comfortable with the longer race format. "I'm no stranger to longer distances and to be honest plenty of our races these days are 200 km or more with just one driver. I've got a fair bit of experience even though I'm quite young. There's a lot that goes into preparing for endurance races – driver change practice, pit stop practice – hopefully I can bring some experience to the team around that. With Adam here as well, he'll offer his expertise to Andy and the team. We're taking it pretty seriously and we want to go there and win!"
After the Father's Day 400 in Taupo in September, the endurance series continues at Pukekohe Park Raceway 27 and 28 October and wraps up at Powerbuilt Tools Raceway Ruapuna in Christchurch on 24 and 25 November.
The opportunity to race in a top-running car at the short, fast Pukekohe circuit is an added attraction for D'Alberto who will be racing his V8 Supercar there in 2013 when the Australian championship returns to Pukekohe at a yet-to-be-decided date.
"Pukekohe is another reason that I really wanted to secure a drive, because I've never driven at Pukekohe and it's looks like a bit of a tricky circuit. The more laps I can get there before I head over there in my car next year. I'm sure Andy can teach me a few tricks about Pukekohe; he'll have done a million miles around there. Essentially it's good for me to learn some new circuits and a new car, and put myself in a different environment to what I've been in the last few years. If you get the opportunity to race a new car, you're never going to knock it back."
2012 V8SuperTourers Endurance Championship
Round 5: 1-2 September – Taupo Motorsport Park, Taupo
Round 6: 27-28 October – Pukekohe Park Raceway, Pukekohe
Round 7: 24-25 November – Final, Powerbuilt Tools Raceway, Christchurch