John McIntyre has been selected by Stone Brothers Racing as one of two co-drivers needed for this season’s two endurance V8 Supercar races
Announced in the Stone Brothers Racing pit garage at the Hamilton 400, McIntyre’s signing is good news for the Nelson-based driver who has put in a lot of hard work over the past two years to secure this deal.
“I’m ecstatic,” says the two-time New Zealand V8 champion. “People ask you how these things come about and it’s just through hard work and perseverance. The phone never rings for you. You’ve got to go and chase these guys, and they’ll have 50 other race drivers phoning them. So be picked from some of the best guys in Australasia to come into this team is fantastic.”
McIntyre will be driving for Stone Brothers Racing at Phillip Island, 11-13 September, and Bathurst, 22-25 October, the two high profile endurance races of the 2009 V8 Supercar season.
Team principal Ross Stone says the decision has yet to be made as to whether McIntyre will co-drive with either of their current drivers, rising Kiwi star Shane Van Gisbergen or Alex Davison. Alternatively Van Gisbergen and Davison could be paired in one car with McIntyre and a yet-to-be-announced fourth driver in the other V8 Ford.
“The main thing for us is that John is a perfect fit for our team,” says Stone, who has run the very successful Queensland-based V8 Supercar team with his brother Jimmy since 1998. “He’s got the skills we need and has driven with Shane before at Bathurst with TKR. We could pair John with Shane or Alex, or if we run Shane and Alex together, he could take over the other car. If we put Shane and Alex together, it’s always a risk for championship points if they don’t finish. We also have some commercial considerations if we pair Shane and Alex together.”
The Stone brothers are New Zealanders born and bred, but “...it doesn’t matter whether John is a Kiwi, a Pom or whatever. It’s his race credentials that count for us,” adds Stone.
McIntyre has raced at Bathurst twice. “Once with the WPS team and David Besnard, and once with Shane for TKR. We didn’t finish the race with either team unfortunately, but it was a great experience and I completed my stints in both races so I was happy with the job I did.
“I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to get in front of these guys [SBR] and that’s why I took the Phillip Island drive last year with Paul Cruickshank Racing to help get my results up a bit.”
Another important aspect of being signed as an endurance co-driver so early in the season is that McIntyre gets a lot of track time before the two long-distance races.
“As a member of the team, you get a 30 minute test session in the car at four race meetings – I’m travelling all the way to Australia for 30 minutes in the car, but when you’re driving these cars, every thirty minutes makes a difference,” explains McIntyre. “The first test day will be at Winton at the beginning of May, then again at the Tasmanian, Queensland and Sandown rounds. I also get to participate in two team test days and obviously the races, so that’s eight trips across the Tasman at least.”
McIntyre is relaxed about not knowing whether he’ll pair up with Van Gisbergen or Davison, or drive the other SBR car.
“I know the team has a lot of things to consider as the championship plays out. I signed up knowing that decision will be some time away and that doesn’t worry me at all. To get the opportunity to get all the mileage I’m going to get – it’s the most mileage I’ve ever had in a Supercar and that’s fantastic.
“To be confirmed this early in the season as an enduro driver is a great opportunity. Often it’s not until June or July or sometimes just two weeks before the event, so you just can’t get enough time in the car.
In terms of the future, McIntyre hopes the Stone Brothers Racing signing will be the sign of bigger and better things to come.
“From a professional driving career point of view, you never know where this is going to go. You need continuity in these cars to get better and better. It’s all about experience to get locked in for really good co-drives.”