New Zealand racing driver Jonny Reid leaves Japan today for London to prepare for the first round of the 2006/07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport series at Zandvoort in The Netherlands.
Reid, 23, is one of the the New Zealand A1GP team's two drivers and the second A1GP World Cup of Motorsport series kicks off at Zandvoort over the September 30/October 1 weekend.
Reid will play a support role to teammate Matt Halliday at the first round then take over the reins of the A1 Team NZL car at the second at Brno in the Czech Republic a week later.
This season's A1 GP World Cup of Motorsport promises to be even bigger and better than last season's with every ticket sold long ago for the first round at Zandvoort and a number of new and exciting venues, including New Zealand's Taupo Motorsport Park, which will host the sixth round of the 2006/07 series over the January 20/21 weekend.
New Zealand finished fourth overall in the 2006/07 championship with Halliday and Reid sharing the driving duties and Reid, who this year has been competing in the All-Japan Formula 3 Championship, was one of the stars of the recent A1GP pre-season test at Silverstone in Great Britain.
Though he had not raced the A1 Team NZL car since the Australian round of the inaugural series at Sydney's Eastern Creek late last year the dynamic young Aucklander set the third fastest time of 1.10.936, just .321 of a second behind fastest qualifier Germany and only .009 of a second behind second fastest qualifier Great Britain.
Reid also felt that there was time left in the car and that had he had another session behind the wheel he could have lapped the Silverstone circuit even faster - a fact which augurs very well for the upcoming A1GP races.
"It was a really productive couple of days and definitely filled me with confidence knowing that I'm going to be driving a good car with a strong engineer and a strong team, " he said. "I felt after the test that there was still a little bit more to gain from our set-up but overall I think we have a very good package which will prove to be very competitive."
Reid will be met by representatives of A1 Team NZL's new running partner Super Nova in London then he will head with Super Nova to The Netherlands early next week.
His role at the first round will be that of a team 'ambassador,' though before and after each practice, qualifying session and race he will be very much hands-on discussing car set up and strategy with teammate Halliday and the Super Nova engineers.
"At meetings like this," he says, " my job away from the car is to be available to the media, the VIPs and the fans. It's always full-on and I know, when it's your turn to do the driving, that it is good having someone else to cover those bases for you."
Though it will be his first time at Zandvoort, a seaside circuit which once hosted rounds of the World Formula 1 Championship in the 1960s and '70s, Reid knows the circuit he will be driving at, Brno, well.
He raced an F3000 car there when he competed in the Superfund European F3000 series in 2004, and rates it as one of his favourite circuits.
"I actually had my first F3000 race there. It's a real driver's circuit, quite smooth but with a lot of elevation change, lots a crests and some very high speed corners. I like it and I think we can go really well there."
Having spent the past two northern hemisphere summer seasons in Formula 3, Reid is also looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of the more powerful, more dynamic A1GP-spec Lola.
"It was certainly good to get back into it at the test," he said. " Formula 3 is a great formula to learn the ropes, and in my case keep race fit, but the A1 car has more of everything, more horsepower, more downforce, more grip and a much stronger braking package."
Reid will return to Japan after Brno to race for his INGING team at the final round of the 2006 All-Japan Formula 3 Championship in October, after which his focus will return to his A1GP programme - and the countdown to the inaugural New Zealand round in January 2007.
As a third generation New Zealand racer (both his grandfather Ross and father Clayton raced cars before him) Reid says that a round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport series in New Zealand is literally a dream come true.
"A1GP and New Zealand A1GP Team management have done a fantastic job in bringing the World Cup of Motorsport to New Zealand and the round in January will give everyone at home - from the fans to the sponsors and all New Zealand drivers - a chance to see what racing on the world stage is really like."
Reid also said a huge vote of thanks was due to the New Zealand Government for getting behind the project.
"By helping to fund Taupo's upgrades the Government has guaranteed that we have a circuit big enough and safe enough for these cars. So a big thanks to the Government and everyone involved in the Taupo Motorsport Park venture. It would be a true honour to take Black Beauty out on home turf and race in front of a home crowd!"
2006/07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport Series
Rnd 1 October 01 2006 Circuit Park Zandvoort The Netherlands
Rnd 2 October 08 2006 Brno Czech Republic
Rnd 3 November 05 2006 Beijing China
Rnd 4 November 26 2006 Sepang International Circuit Malaysia
Rnd 5 December 16 2006 Dubai Autodrome United Arab Emirates
Rnd 6 January 21 2007 Taupo Motorsport Park New Zealand
Rnd 7 February 04 2007 venue tba Sydney Australia
Rnd 8 March 11 or 18 2007 venue tba America
Rnd 9 March 25 2007 venue tba Mexico
Rnd 10 April 08 2007 venue tba Indonesia
Rnd 11 April 15 2007 Shanghai Circuit China
Rnd 12 (Final) April 29 2007 Brand Hatch Great Britain