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Black Bullet Profile: Matt Halliday
Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup
www.matthalliday.com

 
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Born in Auckland in 1979 (age 26), Matt Halliday grew up around racing cars. His father, Don, was a multiple NZ Touring Car Champion, so it was virtually inevitable that Matt would follow his passion and began competing in junior Go-Karting at the age of seven. During the mid 1990's success came frequently and culminated in winning the NZ Junior Championship (Junior Light and National) in 1994. The following year he won the NZ City Of Sails Championship in Auckland and in 1996 the National Senior Karting Series.

During 1997 he purchased a Formula Ford and contested some unofficial championships over the winter months then set out on an assault of the 1998 series. Despite the cut and thrust, wheel to wheel racing he shone at the front of the field throughout, scoring eight second places and 12 podium finishes for an overall 4th place in his first attempt at the series.

His next full season's drive was in the Australian Formula Holden Championship with the Ralt Australia team. Despite not having previously seen an Australian circuit he adjusted well to score a series of podium finishes climaxed by a remarkable 2nd place in the high profile Adelaide 500 meeting. At the end of the year, Ralt Australia brought Matt back across the Tasman to contest the New Zealand Grand Prix in which he finished 3rd. Having finished 3rd outright in the 1999 Formula Holden championship, Halliday contested the 2000 series and again finished 3rd in the points but this time took the chequered flag at the Adelaide 500 feature race. He was then contracted to NRC Racing for the 2000 New Zealand Grand Prix and after a thrilling dice came home in 2nd place.

Having come to the attention of some influential enthusiasts Matt embarked on a more professional campaign in the lucrative USA racing scene. Financial backing enabled him to compete in the 2001 USA Indy Lights Championship which was the second tier to the CART Champcar World Series. Despite missing the first three rounds he finished every race in the points including two podium finishes (3rd place) to come 6th overall in the championship and 4th in the rookie standings for first year drivers.

For the 2002 season Matt returned to the USA to drive in an inaugural oval circuit championship - the Indy Racing League's Infiniti Pro Series - but was eliminated by a serious injury accident in the first race. After a recuperation period Matt stunned everybody by returning to the series and finishing his comeback race in 6th place but withdrew from the remainder of the season in order to expedite a full recovery from his injuries.

In 2003, after successfully competing is some local Porsche GT3 races, Halliday signed to drive in the inaugural Formula Renault V6 Eurocup Series on some of the most famous European circuits with the feature event in the series supporting the historic Monaco Formula One Grand Prix. Halliday led from pole position to totally dominate the race for 23 of the 24 four laps only to have victory cruelly taken away by a gearbox electronics failure on the final lap but was still limped home to gain second place. After a great start to the season it can only be described as bitterly disappointing that he had to withdraw before it's conclusion owing to constant technical difficulties with his car.

Halliday was then called back to captain the New Zealand team in the inaugural 2003/2004 Trans-Tasman Porsche GT3 Challenge and after some serious racing with the likes of Australian captain Jim Richards and Craig Baird, finished second overall with seven wins to Jim’s eight.

After such impressive performances in the unfamiliar Porsche racers, it was decided to return to Melbourne to contest the Carrera Cup support races for 2004 Australian Formula One Grand Prix meeting. Of the races he contested, Matt won two and finished third in another after his gearbox malfunctioned while leading. Since the Melbourne events most of his time has been spent negotiating with teams in both the USA and Europe regarding a full international single-seater racing programme for 2005. While these negotiations continue Matt has undertaken further Australian Carrera Cup races and made a successful debut in the Bob Jane T-Marts 1000 at Bathurst. Driving a Ford Falcon V8 Supercar for Orrcon Racing, Matt and the vastly experienced Mark Larkham drove an intelligent race to come home in 11th place.

After his debut at Bathurst in 2004, Halliday returned to contest the New Zealand Porsche GT3 Championship in which he finished a close second after many close fought races with arch rival, Craig Baird. Although busy racing Porsches, Matt also spent the summer months working on various proposals to further his international career for the remainder of 2005.

While putting together an international programme, Matt travelled to the United States to undergo a Champ Car test in early February. The test took place at the Sebring circuit (Florida) with Mi-Jack Conquest Racing with whom he campaigned the 2001 Indy Lights Championship. Although it was the first time he had driven one of the high-powered racers, he soon adapted and returned competitive lap times over the 100 laps tested. However, raising the necessary budget at short notice for this year was to prove difficult but he still sees Champ Cars as a viable option for 2006.

September 2005 saw the debut of the much anticipated A1 World Cup Grand Prix Series for which New Zealand has taken up its option on a franchise. Matt drove for the majority of the rounds during the season and through consistent results helped New Zealand achieve an outstanding fourth place in the overall standings.

17 June 2006 Matt co-drove in the Pukekohe 6 Hour Endurance Race with Glen Cotterill and Rick Armstrong in Glen’s Porsche 911 Turbo four wheel drive. In his 3.5 hour stint Matt caught the leading car at a pace of +10 seconds per lap in atrocious conditions. Then whilst leading a fuel pump fuse blew and after losing five laps rejoined the race and fought back to a credible 6th position.

24/25 June Matt competed in the inaugural Formula Renault V6 Asia at Malaysia’s Sepang circuit. Despite little opportunity to set up the car, he was fastest in both free practice sessions. During qualifying heavy rain fell and with little time to make adjustments, a decision was made to revert to dry weather settings and slick tyres on a drying track. Unfortunately, rain continued to fall, leaving Matt in sixth position on the starting grid for the Saturday’s twelve lap sprint race. Matt started well and quickly moved up to second place and closing on the leader. With two laps remaining and whilst challenging for the lead a rear tyre deflated leaving him a non-finisher. Sunday’s 50 minute “Grand Race” he started from the rear of the grid. After another blinding start, he worked his way up to third when the race was stopped for an on-track incident. At the re-start he seized his opportunity and hit the front to open a lead he would not relinquish.





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