Two-time BNT V8s champion John McIntyre will leave his V8 Ford in the garage and race a Toyota Racing Series single-seater at the A1GP meeting in Taupo over this coming weekend (23-25 January, 2009).
“I’m really looking forward to racing the Toyota,” says the Nelson-based professional race driver who is currently second in the 2008-09 BNT V8s Championship.
“I’m in a really good frame of mind after our last BNT V8 race in Invercargill just last weekend. I feel I drove better in that race than I have for some time. In Taupo, it will make a nice change not to have the pressure of wanting to do well in the V8 championship, as well as the responsibility of running my own team.
“I can just turn up with my helmet and race suit and enjoy racing for the sake of racing. I’ve always been curious to see how I might go in a single-seater.”
McIntyre’s career includes many race victories in a variety of saloon cars – he’s heading towards his 40th V8 race win and aiming for a third consecutive BNT V8s championship title this year. So it’s a fairly bold move to race an open single-seater car for the first time in his career, particularly at such a high profile event.
“It’s hard to tell how I’ll go, but hey, I’m a race driver and no one ever wants to be last! I’ve got a fair bit of experience and I’ve won a lot of races on the Taupo circuit, so although the car is very, very different - you’ve got to give these Toyotas a lot of respect in the way you drive them – I’m really looking forward to the challenge. This kind of experience can only help my general race craft, no matter what car I’m driving.”
The opportunity to drive the Toyota single-seater has been on the cards for some time, explains McIntyre.
“This is one of cars run by Victory Motor Racing, the Nelson-based motorsport engineers who have a long association with one of my key sponsors, Talley’s,” says ‘Johnny Mac’.
“What appealed this time was that I could actually race the Toyota, not just do some test laps. I’ve put a deal together with sponsors Squawking Magpie Wines, Talley’s and Timex, and the opportunity comes at a good time when we’re not racing the V8, so I’m free to enjoy this unique chance to drive a very different sort of race car.”
McIntyre has had one day testing the Toyota earlier this month where he completed 60 laps at Powerbuilt Raceway outside Christchurch.
“The Toyota is just fantastic to drive. It’s fast for what it is and it’s very rewarding to drive. By the end of the day I was doing some reasonable times. But I’m not discounting I have a lot to learn at Taupo. We get only 25 minutes of testing time on Friday morning to get the set-up right. Then there are two 15-minute qualifying sessions. Qualifying on green tyres in the Toyota will certainly be a new experience, but during the races [two ten-lap races on Saturday and a 16-lap race on Sunday] I hope to improve my position in the pack. After all, race drivers are race drivers and we want to do well!”