Auckland fabricator Graeme Smyth will trade his tools for an Australian GT (AGT) Ferrari 458 GT3 this weekend, as he joins Supercars Championship ace Tony D’Alberto at Maranello Motorsport for round one of the inaugural Australian Endurance Championship at Phillip Island in Victoria.
Smyth said this had been in the works for a little while.
“Maranello were left without a driver just before the start of the sprint season and they approached me to fill the seat. It’s definitely an opportunity I wasn’t going to turn down.”
Smyth, who spends most of his time building and fabricating at SMS Fabrication in West Auckland, was a part of Trass Family Motorsport’s AGT programme in 2014 and 2015.
Despite being a rookie to the car and many of the circuits, he held his own on several occasions — coming close to winning the 2015 Highlands 101 and Phillip Island 101 enduros with teammate Jono Lester.
“Last season was a big learning curve. It’s good to go into this season with an understanding of how the CPS system works and how to work a strategy in with that system,” he said.
“To be returning this season in a car that I’m familiar with and on tracks that I’ve already driven on is definitely a confidence booster. It just means I can get in the car and get on with the job without having to learn on the fly.”
Smyth and D’Alberto are joined by a number of other high-profile drivers, including former Bathurst 1000 and V8 Supercar champion Garth Tander, factory Audi drivers Marco Bonanomi and Miguel Molina, and fellow Kiwi Craig Baird.