V8 SuperTourer driver and team owner John McIntyre announced yesterday that he’s handing an opportunity to drive his Blackwoods Protector race car for the 2014 race season to Taupo-bred and Auckland-based Mark Gibson.
The decision, and the teams livery for the coming seven round campaign, were revealed at the John McIntyre Racing team’s season launch, held at its Taupo Motorsport Park located workshop.
In making his decision to put 21-year-old Gibson in the FG Falcon V8 SuperTourer, Nelson-based McIntyre says the move is about creating opportunity for both new talent and his team.
“It’s a recipe that works well internationally — where the team is run by championship winning personnel that shapes raw talent into a professional result. For the team to win I need to drive it and not the car. That’s where putting the next generation in my place allows me to concentrate on all aspects of the team properly, and ultimately improve our team performance,” says McIntyre.
Having contested 17 New Zealand championships, won three NZ V8 titles (2006/2007, 2007/2008, and 2010/2011), the 2012 V8 SuperTourer sprint title and competed consecutive seasons since 1992, McIntyre says he will continue to race.
Gibson will contest all seven rounds of the series as the primary driver with McIntyre co-driving at the three endurance races that carry the majority of the season’s championship points. McIntyre will also participate during the practise sessions at the sprint rounds.
“It’s a great fit for Mark to spend four rounds surrounded by elite competition in identical specification cars to prepare him for the endurance portion of the season. That’s the one we’re really looking at being at the front of,” adds McIntyre.
The V8 SuperTourer endurance title was won last season by Hamilton’s Ant Pedersen and Australian V8Supercar driver Chaz Mostert, while the overall title winner was V8Supercar stalwart Greg Murphy.
Gibson finished the course in the top three of 11 drivers selected from the Asia Pacific Region, and set fastest times during on-track testing. He earned selection by being the top performer at the MotorSport New Zealand run Elite MotorSport Academy in 2012.
Also a certified yacht designer, having spent four years completing a degree at Auckland’s Unitec, Gibson says his current focus is on being a professional V8Supercar driver.
McIntyre says Gibson brings a high level of achievement and potential to the team as he was in New Zealand’s golf academy for two years and then represented New Zealand at the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) organised Young Driver Excellence Academy.
“After an injury stymied my golf career I took to car racing and instantly fell for the passion of competition and its challenges. Last year’s Young Driver Excellence Academy put me much further ahead on that road to being a professional driver and in front of V8Supercar and CAMS (Confederation of Australian Motor Sport) representatives,” commented Gibson.
“Now with the opportunity John has offered for 2014 it provides the perfect stepping-stone to compete at the highest level in New Zealand alongside V8Supercar drivers. Best of all I get the full attention and resources of a driver and team that has won championships.
“I can go to the first round as a rookie, be nervous and know the car and team are 100% – the perfect way to move my career forward.”
The team’s third season contesting the premier V8 SuperTourer series, action starts in a little over a week’s time when they head south to the recently established Highlands Motorsport Park, located near the central Otago township of Cromwell, January 25-26.