Two-time New Zealand V8 touring car champion John McIntyre is primed and ready for what is sure to be a hard-fought race season in the BNT V8s Championship
McIntyre lines up against fellow NZ V8 competitors in the season opener at Pukekohe over the weekend of 7 and 8 November.
“We’re here to win our third NZ V8 championship title and we’re really excited about getting racing,” says the Nelson-based 32-year-old. “There is no other objective – it’s always about winning. But ironically, since losing last year’s championship in the very last race, we know now more than ever, it’s one thing to ‘want to win’. It’s another thing entirely to ‘know how to win’. You have to lose to know how to win, and this season we – me, the car and the team – are better prepared than we have ever been.”
Over the last few months, the Hastings-based John McIntyre Racing crew has been hard at work on the #47 JMR Ford while McIntyre has been racing with top V8 Supercar team Stone Brothers Racing (SBR) during the two endurance races at Phillip Island and Bathurst.
“In terms of mental and physical preparation, my work with Stone Brothers over the past few months has put me in a great position to attack the New Zealand V8 series flat-out. Bathurst is one of the hardest environments you will ever find in touring car racing in the world, so to be the lead driver for a top team like Stone Brothers, to have the pressure of qualifying on a high speed circuit like Mount Panorama; these factors have made a difference to my level of preparation this season.”
A number of elements have changed for a typical race weekend in the NZ V8s. No on-track testing is scheduled for the Friday of each round. Now teams get two 40 minute test sessions on Saturdays followed by the three-part qualifying session at 4 o’clock that afternoon.
“The whole field goes out for the first 20 minutes of qualifying,” explains McIntyre. “The fastest 20 drivers get another run for 15 minutes, and then the top ten get a one flying lap to set their best possible time and determine who’s on pole. All the groundwork I’ve done with SBR since August – having the opportunity to push myself harder than I’ve ever done before – will make a difference to how I approach challenges like the top ten shootout this season.”
In the workshop, the JMR engineers have had some technical rule changes to implement on the #47 Ford.
The addition of a droop limiter to the front shock absorbers allows great set-up options, says McIntyre. “And the biggest change is with the brakes. The front rotor is thicker, stronger and has a better means of attachment. This should reduce the likelihood of rotors cracking and allow the brakes to run at a cooler temperature.
“Just one type of brake pad is allowed now – Performance Friction pads will be used front and rear, which will save cost and they work better with the rotor. There’s also been a small modification with where the brake ducting can be mounted which should allow the potential for better cooling.”
McIntyre says the team has looked at everything about the car and made a lot of improvements.
“It’s our second year with this car, the one we built ourselves for the start of last season. We were learning all the time, at each round last year, and made some small mistakes along the way so we’ve had time to assess all the data and look at every component on the car to ensure optimal performance.”
Holden competitors have been allowed a number of significant changes this season including a lighter alloy engine block and changes to the exhaust, but McIntyre says he’s focused on his own performance.
“We do know the Holdens are faster – that’s the intention of the rule changes, after all – but we’re yet to compete against them on the track and until then, we can only concentrate on our preparation.
“Having won this championship twice and defended it twice, it’s kind of like a fresh start this season, back with our original #47 on the side and facing the challenges of winning – not defending – the championship,” says an enthusiastic McIntyre who is arguably the most successful V8 touring car driver in the country with two championship titles and 41 race wins to his credit.
The 2009-2010 BNT V8s Championship comprises six rounds – Pukekohe 7-8 November; Powerbuilt Raceway (Christchurch) 28/29 November; Teretonga (Invercargill) 16/17 January; Timaru 23/24 January; Manfeild (13/14 February); and Taupo 20/21 March. A non-championship round sees ‘Johnny Mac’ and the BNT V8s on the support card for the Hamilton 400 V8 Supercar event from 16 to 18 April.
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, Avon City Ford, BP Ultimate, Dynamic Fluid Systems, Colorfast Signs, City Collision Repair Napier, and others for supporting their bid to win a third New Zealand V8 Championship.