Kanga Loaders Racing driver Chris Pither has been offered a racing driver's opportunity of a lifetime-to drive for Team Kiwi Racing in Round 12 of the main V8 Supercar Championship at Bahrain.
Negotiations between Kanga Loaders and TKR are now complete and the deal is confirmed.
It's been quite a journey for Pither-from 18 months ago in the cow paddocks of Taranaki to the fabulous, ultra-modern Bahrain International Circuit in the Middle East.
Three years of karts were followed by six years of Formula Ford, mostly in New Zealand. A good performance in a V8 ute in early 2005 attracted the attention of Kanga's Alan Porter. Kanga had taken Gary MacDonald to the V8 Supercar development series and Porter was on the look-out for a young gun to take over his Kanga ute. And he did a great job for the remainder of 2005.
To fulfil his Kanga racing commitments Pither's moved permanently to the Gold Coast last year, where Kanga Loaders signed him up as an apprentice fitter and turner, the trade which started the professional career of Kanga Group Managing Director Alan Porter.
For season 2006 Kanga elevated Pither to the Fujitsu V8 Supercar series in the Kanga Loaders AU Falcon, and now he's taking another (albeit very large) step up the ladder. Of Pither, Alan Porter said, "We've used season 2006 for Chris to learn the cars and the tracks, and he's acquitted himself extremely well, to the point that TKR had sufficient confidence in him to offer him the drive at Bahrain."
The 19-year-old Kiwi charger will be just 10 days short of his 20th birthday when he first turns a wheel on the Bahrain circuit, which has hosted F1 for the past three years.
Pither will fill the void at Team Kiwi Racing following the Bathurst accident of regular driver Paul Radisich and the unavailability of Craig Baird, who has been filling in for him.
This is the first time that V8 Supercars have ventured to the Middle East, the only prior races off shore being New Zealand and China.
"It's an unbelievable opportunity that TKR has given me. It's all been made possible by the support of Gold Coast based Kanga Loaders and Ash Cairns (Cairns Bins) and their New Zealand and Australian business associates. I'm so very grateful to all of those who have made this possible," said Chris.
With a smile that he was finding difficult to hide, Pither added, "It was kinda funny how it started. The first inkling I got was when I read Auto Action a couple of weeks ago. I just thought it was another rumour and I forgot all about it."
"Then I spoke to Alan [Porter, Kanga Loaders Group Manager Director] and I thought I might have a chance. Since then Alan has been organising most of it, so I haven't talked to many people about it. I'm pretty excited; I just can't wait to get there."
In an endeavour to get to know the TKR personnel with whom he will work in Bahrain, Pither spent last weekend with Team Kiwi Racing at Tasmania's Symmons Plains circuit for Round 11 of the Championship.
In Oz, the Bahrain round will be on Channel 10 on Friday, 24 November, at 11.35 pm; on Saturday, 25 November, at 10.40 pm, with a round-up on Sunday, 26 November, from 2.30 to 5 pm. Check your local guides for details.
In New Zealand, the Bahrain round will be on TV ONE from 3 pm to 6 pm on Sunday, 26 November. Check your local guides for details.
For more info and pics, go to www.kanga-loader.com and http://www.teamkiwiracing.co.nz