A winning margin of just two points was enough to secure John McIntyre the inaugural V8SuperTourers sprint championship title.
In a nail-biting final 35-lap race, the Nelson-based V8 driver said the championship title came down to being able to beat Paul Manuell by just two-tenths of a second which gave McIntyre just enough advantage over Jonny Reid who headed the V8SuperTourers’ points-table going into this fourth and final round at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park near Meremere south of Auckland.
“We’re absolutely delighted!” said a tired, but happy McIntyre. “The racing has been phenomenal all weekend, so to finish this morning’s first race in third and move into the lead of the sprint championship again was fantastic.”
The 25-lap Sunday morning race was interrupted by the safety car five times as drivers tangled and, most significantly for McIntyre, Reid was sidelined with gearbox issues.
“Having started fifth, it was great to have a better handling, faster car than yesterday,” said McIntyre. “There was some great racing with Greg Murphy and Andre Heimgartner and I was certainly happy to be able to finish third, despite the stop-start process with so many safety car interventions.
“So we went into the final race on Sunday afternoon with a 60 point advantage over Reid. During the break we’d tried to make the car a bit quicker again, but think we went in the wrong direction. Then by around the tenth lap, #47’s gearbox started playing up – it was mis-shifting. You’d change gear, but it would go back to the previous gear. Others just kept going past me – in between the three further safety car breaks – and there was nothing I could do.
“I also had a problem with the radio – it was all static so I pulled the plug, leaving me unable to talk with the team. I was down in ninth and saw Reid had got in front of Heimgartner, so knew I had to do more. I only just managed to get past Paul Manuell and only just managed to keep him behind me as the gearbox was mis-shifting really badly on the final lap.
“It came down to just two-tenths of a second at the end to hold eighth place and take the title. I just managed to get what I needed out of the car, but man... it was close!”
After 12 races in four rounds, McIntyre accrued 2021 points compared to Reid’s 2019. Murphy was a relatively distant third with 1742 points.
“It’s hugely satisfying – and the result of an incredible amount of hard work by the whole team – to do enough to win the first-ever V8SuperTourers’ title.
“My John McIntyre Racing team-mate Steve Richards had a tough second race with a cut tyre that meant he had to come in and change that which left him at the back of the pack. You know, Richo never gives up and he put in another solid top ten performance in the #556 CRC Ford in the third race to wrap up the sprint championship tenth overall.”
With the sprint championship his, no matter how small the winning margin, McIntyre is already thinking about the upcoming V8SuperTourer endurance series, having just confirmed young Kiwi driver Jono Lester as his co-driver.
“As a team, we have plenty to work on going into September’s first endurance race weekend. We have quite a bit more testing planned at our home circuit in Taupo – where the first enduro will run – so with Jono in the #47 car with me, we’ll be hard at work over the winter months.”
More details about McIntyre and his team can be found on www.jmr.co.nz, or follow John McIntyre Racing on Facebook or ‘JohnMcIntyreRac’ on Twitter.