Exotic GTs for Ruapuna endurance

The Chevrolet Camaro GT3 of John McIntrye and Simon Gilbertson is expected to be amongst the...
The Chevrolet Camaro GT3 of John McIntrye and Simon Gilbertson is expected to be amongst the front runners at Ruapuna on Saturday.
Some of the country’s most exotic race cars hit Ruapuna this weekend for the final round of the South Island Endurance Series.

The opening three rounds of the championship have been dominated by the Audi R8 pairings of Neil Foster/Jonny Reid, Dale Chapman/Marc Doran/Andrew Waite and Ben Byers/Christina Orr-West, However John McIntrye and Simon Gilbertson have hopes of ending the Audi dominance in their crowd favourite Chevrolet Camaro GT3.

“We do love having a different car from the other guys and it sounds amazing. We know that Christchurch is full of V8 petrol heads so we’re sure it’s going to be a popular car,” said McIntyre.

The 7.9-litre Chevrolet powered V8 is yet to record a win in this year’s championship. However, at the latest round at Levels, near Timaru, McIntyre and Gilbertson accomplished an impressive feat of lapping the entire field an hour into the three-hour race. Unfortunately the effort was undone after the team suffered suspension damage during their first pit stop. This dropped them down the order and they unfortunately retired with more front suspension problems later in the race.

“I don’t want to sound defeated, but we go into every round really up against it pace-wise, but we obviously found that in Timaru which is a twisty circuit. We had made some real gains in corner speed, tyre life and fuel economy,” said McIntrye.

“So, we’ll be happy to go in as the underdogs, but if we can get our nose in front that Camaro could become very, very wide.”

Last year the three-hour race was won by Foster and Reid in their Audi R8 after qualifying on pole with a blistering time of 1min 18.3sec The pair lead this year’s championship after wins at Teretonga and Levels, and a third place finish at Motorsport Park.

“These are of some of the fastest cars ever raced in New Zealand with a roof on them,” said McIntyre.

“If you think about things like the Trans-ams of the day which were very quick cars, they were only in the one-minute twenties, so to be two seconds up on that is phenomenal.”

Qualifying for the one and three-hour races begin in the morning, followed by the one-hour race. The three-hour race begins at 2pm.