New Zealand V8 championship-winning driver Andy Booth believes the depth of experience and talent in his Woodstock Racing team gives him a strong chance to win the Ashley Stichbury Memorial trophy at the first V8 SuperTourer endurance event in Taupo.
Booth starts the Father’s Day 400 with Australian V8 Supercars driver Tony D’Alberto as his co-driver and with two 60 lap, or 200 kilometre, races scheduled for this Sunday, 2 September, the Woodstock Racing pairing lines up among one of the strongest-ever fields of touring car drivers ever seen at an event in New Zealand.
“While I’m relatively new to endurance events, I’m surrounded by people with massive experience with longer distance races,” says Booth, who is based in Birkenhead, Auckland.
“We finished the inaugural four-round V8 SuperTourer sprint series in June with strong form in fourth place and our expectations are for another top five finish in Taupo. Tony brings the benefit of seven Bathurst starts, and together with the considerable Group A touring car experience of team owner Wayne Anderson, the team as a whole has considerable expertise in this form of racing.
“In fact, I believe we’re capable of winning the Ashley Stichbury Memorial trophy which will be presented to the round winner,” adds Booth. “I’ve impressed upon Tony during our recent test day at Pukekohe how very special it would be for me personally to win the trophy, as Ash was a very good friend.
“I do have a few nerves though – that’s not a bad thing! There’s been such a lot of hype and discussion around how strong this field is so there’s certainly some pressure for me racing for the first time in this longer format and bringing in a different driver to share my car.”
D’Alberto, from Melbourne, Australia and fresh from the heat of V8 Supercar competition, impressed Booth and team management when he tested the #23 Woodstock Racing Holden last week, despite appallingly wet conditions.
“We were super impressed at how quickly Tony adapted to the car and learned the high speed Pukekohe circuit, especially given the horrible weather,” Booth says.
“We’re all keen to get racing again; it’s been a long break since June and the car’s all ready and the team fired up.”
The Father’s Day 400 sees the Woodstock Racing team compete at the Taupo Motorsport Park for the first time and Booth says the challenge of setting up for the 3.3 km circuit is the same for virtually all the teams.
“Other than John McIntyre Racing which has Taupo as their home track, it’s the same for all of us. Wayne and I have plenty of good experience with Taupo though and I’m confident Tony will be comfortable on another new circuit very quickly.”
The now 20-car strong V8 SuperTourer field has two 60 minute practice sessions on Saturday – 10:20 am and 12:30 pm – where either driver can be in the car. Qualifying starts at 3 pm with, first, the co-drivers getting just 20 minutes to set their best time, then the main drivers do their qualifying run.
Sunday’s two 60 lap races see each driver starting one of the races according to their best qualifying time. Then the maximum any one driver can in each race is 39 laps, the minimum 21. Each car must pit and the drivers change during the ‘window’ between laps 21 and 39.
A big crowd is expected at the Taupo Motorsport Park with tickets available from EventFinder or at the gate. TV3 is screening four hours of coverage on Sunday 2 September from 1-5 pm.
After the Father’s Day 400 in Taupo in September, the endurance series continues at Pukekohe Park Raceway 27 and 28 October and wraps up at Powerbuilt Tools Raceway Ruapuna in Christchurch on 24 and 25 November.