Three-time NZ V8s champion John McIntyre driving a Lamborghini at Bathurst
Nelson’s John McIntyre will call on his Bathurst race experience when he drives a Lamborghini Gallardo for the first time on Friday as the build-up begins for the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour.
The three-time NZV8s champion has seven V8 Supercar starts at Mt Panorama and will be making his second appearance in the 12-Hour enduro after driving with Kiwi Ferrari squad Trass Family Motorsport in 2015.
McIntyre is racing for Melbourne-based M Motorsport in the teams FL2 specification Gallardo GT3 with a driver roster that includes team owner Justin McMillan and brothers Dale and Glen Wood.
McIntyre hasn’t had a chance to test the Lamborghini ahead of Bathurst.
‘‘Friday at Bathurst will be my first chance to drive it,’’ said McIntyre.
‘‘Once I have got to know the car and we’ve found the right balance one good thing is I don’t need to learn the circuit.’’
With sponsors USG Boral, Talley’s, Archibald Motor Group and Active Electrical, McIntyre has been building a varied portfolio of GT3 drives in the past 12 months.
Starting with the TFM Ferrari 458 outing at Bathurst last year he then teamed with Southland’s Inky Tulloch in a Sareni Camaro for local endurance events and was also called up to drive for M Motorsport in a similar Camaro at the Sandown round of the Australian GT Championship.
Contrasting the big displacement American monster it’s now back to a mid-engine Italian sports car.
‘‘The cars couldn’t be more different. The Camaro is like a big Supercar while the Ferrari was all about keeping the engine revs up and maximising its downforce and the cornering grip.
‘‘In the Ferrari it was pretty easy to push on and I’m expecting the Lamborghini to be similar.’’
McIntyre says the team has a well-balanced driving squad for the Pro-Am format required by the 12-Hour rules.
‘‘Justin has done the 12-Hour three times before while Dale Wood has a lot of V8 Supercar experience there and has been the top-10 qualifying shootout.
Wood’s younger brother Glen has competed in Formula Ford and raced the Lamborghini at two rounds of the Australian GT series last year.
‘‘I think it’s a good mix. The rules allow four drivers this year so the stints will probably work out a bit shorter and we should be able to maximise every stint.’’
More racing in GT3 cars is where McIntyre sees his career developing following success in Kiwi V8 racing and V8 Supercar series co-driver roles.
‘‘I don’t see myself doing much more sprint racing. Endurance racing is definitely what I have set my sights on doing. You get to race some amazing cars at great circuits,’’ said McIntyre.
‘‘The GT3 cars are very impressive. In the Camaro at Ruapuna last year we were lapping faster than the old TraNZam cars, and they can do that flat-out for three hours.’’
As well looking for more international opportunities, McIntyre will be a front runner in the growing endurance scene in New Zealand this year. He will team with Tulloch Motorsport again for the National Championship 3-Hour endurance race at Hampton Downs on March 12 and the pairing will also tackle the winter North Island Endurance Series and the South Island series that follows.
The schedule for the Bathurst 12-Hour begins with four practice sessions on Friday followed by one more session and then qualifying on Saturday. There’s a pre-dawn 5.45am start (7.45am NZ time) on Sunday.