Australian Luke Youlden is in a confident frame of mind as he readies himself for his second season in the NZV8s Championship that begins at Pukekohe Park south of Auckland this weekend.
. Youlden will be back at the wheel of the Powerbuilt Falcon for the seven round championship.
The Melbourne driver ended last year 7th overall in the championship, laying claim to the title of top Australian and top rookie in the series. However while he may have been a rookie in last year's NZV8s Championship Youlden has plenty of experience and has achieved much success across the Tasman.
Since last year's series Youlden has had several drives in his homeland in the V8 Supercar Development Series, the Porsche Carrera Cup and his annual outing with Stone Brothers Racing in the V8 Supercar endurance races. Alongside Russell Ingall the duo scored a 4th placing at Bathurst recently, just 0.005 seconds from the podium.
However Youlden's immediate focus is here in New Zealand as the NZV8s Championship approaches.
"It's good to have Powerbuilt Tools and New Balance back as sponsors", say's Youlden. "I am keen to repay their faith in having me back".
Youlden can't hide his enthusiasm for the upcoming championship when he talks of pre - season testing with the car. "The Powerbuilt Falcon has gone very well in testing. The car has been totally rebuilt. It is immaculate as with all of PC's (team boss Peter Cunliffe of Autotek) cars".
"The car is a lot different to last year", continues Youlden. "There appears to be a big gain in chassis set - up and the "tunability" of the car. Last year an extreme change might make no difference whereas this year 5mm on the ride height or a 1/4 turn on the shock does alter the car".
Looking ahead to the opening round Youlden promises, "we'll be pushing hard at Pukekohe, it was a bogey track last year".
Some technical changes have been introduced for this year's series, one such change being a different tyre compound - the Dunlop D14 racing slick. Youlden say's "the new tyre is a fair bit harder, drivers will need to be a lot more disciplined. We are looking forward to getting together with the other cars to see where we are at"!
The first round will begin with official testing at the South Auckland circuit on Friday 3 November. The following day, the NZV8s will contest qualifying in the morning before their first race over 12 laps on Saturday afternoon. On Sunday 5 November they will line up for two races, the first on Sunday morning over 16 laps while later in the afternoon a 20 lap reverse grid event will round out the weekend.