Auckland racing driver Gene Rollinson is being thrown in the deep end – once again – in the BNT NZ SuperTourers races at Hampton Downs this weekend.
Rollinson has been called in as a stand-in co-driver with Chris Hanley at the TR Group Waikato 400 meeting, which is billed as a V8 festival since many of the support categories also feature V8 cars.
But he will not get to drive The Sound FM team's high-power Ford Falcon till Saturday morning, and even then he will have to share the practice time with Hanley. And he will be up against many top-line drivers from both sides of the Tasman, in a category where the cars are nearly as fast as V8 Supercars.
"That seems to be the bane of my life, unfortunately," Rollinson said. "I have driven a BNT NZ SuperTourer once before, two years ago with Andy Booth on the Sunday and that was with no practice as well. I'll have to get the hang of it pretty quickly.
"It'll be interesting running against all these V8 Supercar drivers fresh from Bathurst and the Gold Coast but we'll see how we go. Obviously I'm a little bit nervous, having had no seat time, but I'll just have to power through that."
Rollinson, 30, has had a varied career that includes NZV8s, the V8 Supercar Development Series, Formula Challenge and Formula Suzuki single-seaters, and winning the two-wheel-drive category of the New Zealand Production championship.
But a shortage of sponsorship has meant that many of his drives have been one-offs and he has not been able to put together a season in a top-level category.
"It's always been a shame, even when I was racing in Australia, that they've all been one-off rounds," he said. "It's always been a money game for me, unfortunately.
"I seem to do well with one-off drives but it would be good to get some consistent seat time. That would be even better."
Rollinson hopes a good performance in the three long-distance races this weekend will help him gain more drives in the future.
He is about to start work in the motor racing industry, with Auckland-based Racer Products, where his engineering background will be put to good use.
Daniel Gaunt, who was Hanley's co-driver in the first round of the 2014-15 championship at Taupo, has commitments in Asia this weekend.