Top New Zealand motor racing team International Motorsport is keen to do its bit for earthquake-ravaged Christchurch at this weekend's V8 SuperTourer NZ series round at Powerbuilt Tools Raceway.
"We'll do whatever we're asked," said General Manager Nick Williamson this week. "As a team we've got close ties with Christchurch, and New Zealand being New Zealand, everyone seems to know people who have lived through the earthquakes and aftershocks. So even if it is just putting on a really good show for the fans this weekend we'd all like to help in some way."
Though the team has been based for many years in Auckland, it has its roots in Christchurch where team founder and CEO Lyall Williamson was born, raised and started working on and running cars.
"It's where it all started," says his son Nick."We must have been back hundreds of times over the years but in this case it's been over a year (since the team contested the last Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge race at the end of 2010) and in that time, obviously, a lot has happened."
Despite that this weekend's meeting looks set to be the biggest hosted by the Canterbury Car Club at its Ruapuna Park facility since the team was last there with over 10,000 fans expected to descend on the Powerbuilt Tools-backed circuit at Templeton west of the city for their first look at New Zealand's newest and fastest touring car racing category.
International Motorsport's two drivers, Jonny Reid and Ant Pedersen, were two of the front-runners in their Ford Falcons at the opening round of the new series at Auckland's Hampton Downs motor racing circuit in February and the pair are looking forward to maintaining that momentum this weekend.
Heading south they are third and fourth respectively in the series points standings (behind round one winner Greg Murphy and runner-up Kayne Scott) after Reid qualified fifth and finished fourth in the first race, runner-up in the second and ninth in the third and Pedersen qualified and finished the first race eighth, fought back from a spin to finish ninth in the second then won the third.
Having quickly gotten to grips with the new V8 SuperTourer at Hampton Downs, Reid is also confident he and Pedersen can again run at the front this weekend.
"While I'd expect the local teams to be strong straight away because they're the only ones who have tested the new car at the track, we certainly plan to be up there and challenging for race victories as the weekend progresses," the former New Zealand Grand Prix winner and A1GP World Cup of Motorsport race winner and series runner-up said this week.
Teammate Ant Pedersen shares Reid's confidence, and not just because he won the feature race at the opening round.
"That's right," he says, "Win aside I was pretty happy with the package we had at the opening round so hopefully we will be able to keep the ball rolling this weekend."
Both Pedersen and Reid have been busy between the first and second rounds of the new V8 SuperTourer series.
Reid qualified quickest and finishing second overall at the latest round of Carrera Cup Australia (the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix meeting in Melbourne) and Pedersen has been working hard on his fitness, recently completing a Half Ironman (2km swim/90km bike/21km run) as he trains for the V8 SuperTourer races and upcoming summer Triathlon season.
This weekend's round of the new V8 SuperTourer series is the second of seven and the first of two to be held in the South Island this year (Powerbuilt Tools Raceway will also host the final in October).
On Friday fans are invited to view the cars being scrutineered and drivers signing in at the Bush Inn Shopping Centre on Riccarton Rd between 12.00 midday and 2.00pm while V8 Supercar action at Powerbuilt Tools Raceway begins at 10.00am on both Saturday and Sunday at Ruapuna Park.
The weekend will see three races for the V8 SuperTourers, with qualifying between 1.15 and 1.45pm and the first - 15 lap - race starting at 4.00pm on Saturday.
Sunday then sees a second - this time 20 lap - race starting at 11.45am and the feature 25 lap final starting at 2.45pm. On Sunday a second.
The series then returns to the North Island where Feilding's Manfeild circuit is set to host the third round over the April 28-29 weekend.
You can follow the progress of Jonny Reid and Ant Pedersen on International Motorsport's website www.internationalmotorsport.co.nz or on the team's new facebook page.