Watch: Rare Porsche 911 GT3 circuit-killer lands in New Zealand
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GT racing in New Zealand is on the rise, with interest in both the North Island Endurance Series and the South Island Endurance Endurance Series currently sitting as high as it ever has before.
The Northern series has already wound to a close; Smeg Racing's Audi R8 LMS GT3 with Simon Evans and Gene Rollinson behind the wheel crowned the national champs. But it's now time for the Southern series to kick into gear, and already a wave of shiny new machines have started to come out of the woodwork.
And few of them are more curious than Gilbertson JMR Racing's latest acquisition; a 991-gen Porsche 911 GT3 Cup MR — one of just two in New Zealand. This particular car has been flown all the way from Switzerland, and it will be raced by Porsche stalwart Simon Gilbertson and former V8 champ John McIntyre. The duo know their way around an endurance race, and will be competitive.
The name designation might be a little bit fussy, but it all means something. This isn't just your average 911 GT3, nor is it a GT3-spec race car like the Smeg Audi and some of the other cars that frequent the pointy end of each respective championship ... and nor is it a Carrera Cup car.
What it is, is a mid-point between a Cup car and a GT3. It was built by German motorsport outfit Manthey Racing (hence the MR in the name), who could well be a name that rings a bell with some. Having had Porsche purchase a 51 per cent majority stake in the company in late 2013, the team are now an integral part of their development program for GT cars. This has seen a raft of factory Porsche drivers, including New Zealand's Earl Bamber, race for Manthey all over the world.
For McIntyre, the change in hopping out from the big brute SaReNi Camaro GT3 he campaigned with Tulloch Motorsport in previous enduro season couldn't be more different.
“It’s just chalk and cheese,” he told velocitynews.co.nz after the team's first test at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park. “The engine is in a different location, but apart from that there are far more differences about the way it goes around the track.
“We didn’t get a chance to push the car at all. Already just in the very few wet laps it showed a lot of promise.”
The first round of the Carters Tyres South Island Endurance Series is on September 9 at Teretonga Park. Two further rounds at Mike Pero Motorsport Park in Christchurch and at Timaru International Motor Raceway will follow, before a champ is crowned.
Photos / John Cowpland, Alphapix, Gilbertson JMR Racing