Bathurst on bucket list
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Kiwi Racing fields new all-amateur team
A new team of New Zealand racers is gearing up to contest the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour endurance race next month.
Campaigning a Reiter Engineering-built Lamborghini Gallardo R-EX under the Kiwi Racing banner, the team comprises New Plymouth's Glenn Smith, Cambridge racer John de Vries, Aucklander Nick Chester and Christchurch-based Kevin Bell.
It will be one of a handful of all-amateur driver line-ups among a 30-plus grid of cars entered in the top-tier GT3 category.
Bell, who is making a return to the sport after a break of almost 10 years brings the most experience of international endurance racing to the Kiwi Racing quartet.
He has contested the Bathurst 1000 (2-litre Super Touring) race, the Bathurst 24 Hour and Nurburgring 24-Hour races as well as racing in the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia series in 2003 and 2004.
Smith and de Vries have teamed up for success in local endurance racing during recent years, first with a Holden Commodore V8 SuperTourer and more recently with one of the 7.9-litre SaReNi Chevrolet Camaro GT3 cars.
Both also compete in the local Tradezone GTRNZ championship where Smith has won the GT1 category for the last three seasons with his SBT Motorsport Crawford-Porsche.
Chester has provided Smith's closest competition in the GT1 class taking his highly developed Holden Commodore to runner-up honours in the series the past two seasons. "The three of us [Smith, De Vries and Chester] all race together in the GTNZ series and we get on well," said Smith.
"Kevin Bell was super-keen when I asked him to join us and he has raced at Bathurst before which will help us."
"For us, it's a chance to tick the bucket list and compete at Bathurst while we are still racing on a regular basis.
"I'm not sure how long there will be room in the race for amateur teams. The way the 12-Hour is growing so quickly every year it might not be long before it's all professional drivers," Smith said.
The Lamborghini is being prepared by Australian Reiter Engineering agent M Motorsport in Melbourne with the team providing an engineer and mechanic for the Kiwi Racing car while the pit crew will comprise regulars from the SBT Motorsport and Chester's squads.
The Kiwi Racing team has its first chance to test the Gallardo R-EX at the Phillip Island circuit this week and will be among the first GT3 teams on track at Mt Panorama on Friday February 3 for the opening morning practice session, reserved for amateur drivers.
The round-the-clock enduro takes place on February 5 with a 5.45am start time. The world-class grid of GT3 cars in the top class includes McLaren, Nissan, Bentley, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Porsche, BMW, Audi, Lamborghini and Mercedes-AMG machinery.