Team NZ Motorsport is looking forward to getting back on track at Sepang International Circuit this coming weekend as the Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup 2017 reaches the halfway point and we go into action to defend our advantage at the top of the Drivers’ and Teams’ championship standings.
As ever Graeme Dowsett will lead the lineup in the #77 Porsche 997 GT3 Cup, however with regular partner John Curran unable to take part due to other business commitments we are very pleased to be able to draft Nick Foster back into our driver roster for this weekend’s two 1-hour races. Pleasingly for the team, John will be back in the ‘hot seat’ for next month’s final round, which also takes place at the Malaysian circuit.
Nick is no stranger to Team NZ as the 25-year-old Australian joined us last February for our late entry into the Bathurst 12 Hours – and in fact he was also a very late addition to the lineup, then standing in from Graeme who had to withdraw at the last minute due to an injury. Nick, who is the 2015 Porsche Carrera Cup Australia champion, did a superb job as we defied the odds to battle back first from a major crash in qualifying and then transmission failure early in the race to finish third. This year Nick is driving in the FIA World Endurance Championship for Gulf Racing so we’re pleased he was available.
We will also be missing our Team Manager Will Bamber this weekend as the young Kiwi will be racing in Porsche Carrera Cup Asia (PCCA) which is also on the weekend programme in Sepang. After two barnstorming victories at the Bangsaen Grand Prix last month Will is leading the PCCA points classification and we wish him good luck and hope to see him continue that winning run this weekend.
The Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup has been pretty good to us and we won the inaugural championship in 2016 in the GT Cup with Graeme and John combining superbly to claw our way back into the reckoning and clinch the title. Last year though we got off to a pretty tough start and it took us until the final weekend to lockdown the title, this year however the team has enjoyed a much more promising start to the Sprint Cup season and we won both races that comprised the season opener, here in Sepang, back in May. The victories didn’t come easy though and we enjoyed some great tussles during both races with PAS Macau Racing, which fielded a similar Porsche 997 GT3 Cup, before we reached the top step of the podium. We look forward resuming battle with them this coming weekend and we will be doing everything we can to defend our lead in the classification and try to build further advantage as the series will then have just one more round (and two races) remaining.
Graeme and John jointly currently lead the Drivers’ standings with 52 points, a 16 point advantage. Although with our rapid Irishman unfortunately absent this weekend it will fall to Graeme to fly the flag for us, but if anyone can deliver the goods then our experienced Kiwi can. It’s a very similar story in the Teams’ championship as Team NZ Motorsport stands on 52 points with PAS Macau Racing on 36 points.
The action on track in Sepang gets underway on Friday (21 July) with two sessions, Free Practice 1 (45 mins, 0930-1045) and Free Practice 2 (45 mins, 1430-1515). Then it’s onto the weekend and Saturday (22 July) morning sees Qualifying spread across two rapid fire back-to-back sessions, Q1 at 0900-0915 and Q2 at 0920-0935. After the dust has settled on qualifying there is a short breather before the two one-hour duration races get underway with Race 1 coming up the same afternoon at 1430-1535 while Race 2 follows the next day, Sunday (23 July) at the slightly earlier time of 1255-1400.
Graeme Dowsett (New Zealand): “I’m really looking forward the upcoming race weekend. We have a substantially changed team with ‘JC’ not being able to drive and new faces in our garage. We welcome Nick Foster back to join us, he brings loads of experience and fits right into the spirit of the team. Wishing our colleague Will Bamber all the very best for the weekend in PCCA.”
Nick Foster (Australia): “It’s very cool to get back behind the wheel of the Team NZ Porsche. We have some history together and since then the team and drivers have gone from strength to strength. Will be a great weekend of racing and I’m looking forward to helping the team again.”
Source. Edd Ellison