Nelson’s John McIntyre dominated the second round of the BNT V8s Championship at Ruapuna outside Christchurch this weekend, taking pole position, winning two races and scoring the most points to take the championship lead
With the weekend’s third race, a full reverse grid 22-lapper, run in persistent light rain and littered with high speed incidents, McIntyre said the final race of the weekend wasn’t a lot of fun. “But let’s talk about those first two races,” he said, delighted to secure two victories and come out of the second round with the championship lead.
“Ruapuna has been something of a bogey track for us and when you’ve got Craig Baird, one of New Zealand’s best drivers hard on your bumper for the first two races you can’t afford to make any mistakes. The crew worked incredibly hard overnight to make sure the car was in the best possible condition after Saturday’s issues, so we’re all delighted with this success.”
Saturday’s wet test sessions were filled with challenges for the John McIntyre Racing team when first a minor crash and then a broken differential meant McIntyre managed only a handful of practice laps. But Johnny Mac turned things around to come out of qualifying at the top of pack with a top ten shootout time nearly half a second faster than closest rival Baird.
“That was our first pole position at Ruapuna after three years of not being able to do better than fourth, so that’s particularly satisfying.”
Having also set pole position at Pukekohe’s opening round, McIntyre paid credit to the time spent with leading V8 Supercar team Stone Brothers Racing earlier this year.
“The experience with SBR at Phillip Island and Bathurst has really paid dividends. I’m quicker to get into the zone for qualifying, I’ve learned to push myself harder than I’ve ever done before and we can see the results with two pole positions in two rounds.”
Along with managing the allocation of just four Dunlop slick tyres per round, McIntyre believes the new top ten shootout qualifying process – with one flying lap for each driver – will be a deciding factor in this year’s BNT V8s Championship.
“You have to nail it on that one lap. There’s no room for mistakes and if you don’t qualify at the front, it’s very hard to win races.”
So, with his first pole position at Ruapuna secured, McIntyre lined up for Sunday’s first ten-lap race with Baird beside him on the front row of the grid. The pair then made it a drag-race into the first left-handed sweeper.
“From pole, you’ve got a much tighter line around the sweeper and have to brake sooner and Bairdo had more room and can brake later. So we were side-by-side coming through into ‘pothole elbow’, but I had the edge down into the hairpin and managed to hold him off for the remainder of the race to take my first start-to-flag win at Ruapuna. It’s absolutely fantastic,” said McIntyre after the first race.
The win earned McIntyre the maximum 75 points, taking him into the championship lead.
In the second ten-lap race, McIntyre was again on pole and, again, scored a start-to-flag victory. With Baird, Tim Edgell and Andy Booth duelling for second place, McIntyre had a clear run in the lead and although Baird managed to make it back into second by the finish, McIntyre had a very handy one-second advantage when the chequered flag was waved. The addition of another 75 points helped stretch his lead over Eddie Bell who had topped the leader-board after Pukekohe’s opening round.
After fine, cool conditions for the first two races, rain again swept over the circuit and the BNT V8 field lined up for the full reverse grid 22-lapper on wet tyres with McIntyre right at the back.
“The reverse grid race is a lottery at the best of times, but in these conditions you can’t see a thing.”
McIntyre held back, letting the other drivers try and sort themselves out. “We also lost our radio right near the start, so it was hard to know how much progress Craig was making through the field.”
With two safety car interventions and a red flag while Booth’s car was removed from the circuit, eventually 20 of the 22 laps were completed. McIntyre followed Baird, weaving through the field, to finish a handily-placed ninth. This result combined with his two race wins earned McIntyre the best points’ haul of the weekend and the round win.
“From here, we won’t be resting up too much before the Teretonga round in the middle of January. Even though we now have a 60 point lead in the championship, we have things we want to work on with the car. Our wet setup here wasn’t ideal, but we had a great setup in the dry which will be good for Teretonga and Timaru in January.
The team at John McIntyre Racing extends their thanks to Talley's, Castrol Edge, Protector Safety, Ford NZ, The Rock FM, Ideal Electrical, Websters Hydrated Lime, Access Lock Specialists, Avon City Ford, BP Ultimate, Dynamic Fluid Systems, Prime Explosives , Cookes Wirerope, Colorfast Signs, City Collision Repair Napier, and others for supporting their bid to win a third New Zealand V8 Championship.