A milestone in the history of New Zealand's Team Kiwi Racing will be celebrated next weekend at the holy grail of motorsport events with the all Kiwi team making its tenth start at Bathurst's Mt Panorama, Australia on 5 October.
Since their first foray to the V8Supercar Championship with drivers Jason Richards and Angus Fogg in October 2000, the team returns this year with their latest TKR development driver, Andre` Heimgartner of Auckland. Driving the all black Porsche 997 in the weekend's round of the City Index Carrera Cup Australia it will be the first time the 17-year-old has been to the iconic venue with the team.
Heimgartner will also line-up against former team driver and current mentor Craig Baird MNZM – multiple Porsche champion and current leader of the high profile and highly competitive eight round series.
"It's certainly our biggest event of the year," says team boss David John. "Bathurst was where it all started for us as a team and its significance this year is two-fold with Andre` being our youngest ever driver the team has put on the grid there.
"It's also the toughest event. The weather can swing from one extreme to the other in a minute and its path up and over Mt Panorama means you never know what's round that next corner, or even what it will be like on the next lap.
"It's a place that commands respect and that's derived from experience. We're fortunate as a team to have our own background experience and the likes of Craig Baird as part of our mentoring, to assist Andre` get past some of what Bathurst will throw at him.
John also says it's a time to acknowledge what the team has achieved in its history: "Andre` is our current example of the team's commitment of supporting up-coming New Zealand drivers to compete at an international level. For any aspiring driver, to race at Bathurst is the pinnacle of achievement – for the team it's our tenth time."
This year competing in the Carrera Cup category, John says the team's Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Type 997) car has brought strong results from a car with a winning pedigree.
"The all black Porsche 997 has been the perfect car for Andre` to step in to reliable international grade and professional competition. With our own world class engineers we have the perfect package for young drivers to quickly realise their potential – just like Andre` is this year.
"We have exciting new plans already in place for 2013 and beyond at Team Kiwi Racing - the first 10 Bathurst starts were just a warm up!"
Since the last round the car has been flown to Auckland where it was completely pulled apart, repaired and checked before being used at a number of hot-lap ride days. The car has been returned to Australia for the second half of the championship season and is currently en-route to the New South Wales location of Bathurst.
Originally constructed in 1938 the 6.123km circuit has a mix of long and short straights, sweeping bends, kinks and dips that wind alongside Mt Panorama.
The team arrive on Wednesday 3 October to begin preparations for the weekend racing at Bathurst with the first of two practise sessions starting early Thursday morning. Qualifying for the first of three races during the weekend takes place 8:45am Saturday morning. That is followed by a nine lap race from 12:15 and a second race starting at 5:30pm.
The third and final race starts at 8:35am Sunday morning – televised live as part of the race weekend activity.
A very impressive list of Kiwi drivers who Team Kiwi Racing have provided the opportunity to run at Bathurst in the TKR All Black machines over the years are: Jason Richards, Angus Fogg, Mark Porter, Simon Wills, Craig Baird, John Faulkner, Fabian Coulthard, Paul Radisich, John McIntyre, Shane van Gisbergen, Chris Pither, Kayne Scott. 2012: Andre` Heimgartner