International Motorsport lines up on the grid for the third weekend in a row this weekend at the Taupo Motorsport Park, where eight Porsche GT3's will be entered by the team for a non championship round of the Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge.
The race format for the weekend sees an action packed schedule for the team's Porsche drivers, with two ten lap sprint races, and two fifty minute races, each with a driver change. Two drivers per car are entered for the weekend, with the option for either driver to contest the ten lap races, and both drivers sharing the fifty minute races.
A number of high profile drivers return to the team for the weekend, including Shane van Gisbergen and Matt Halliday. Also joining the team for the first time is A1 Team New Zealand driver Jonny Reid, and former Superbike ace Aaron Slight.
Van Gisbergen last drove for the team in the 2006-07 Toyota Racing Series, claiming victory in the International Series run within the main Toyota Racing championship. After standout drives in New Zealand, van Gisbergen made the transition to V8 Supercar racing in Australia, and now bases himself on the Goldcoast, driving for Stone Brothers Racing. This weekend in Taupo however, van Gisbergen will drive alongside long time friend Mark Russ in the Castrol Edge GT3.
Having raced Porsche GT3 Cup Cars with International Motorsport since 2002, Matt Halliday returns to the team from his USA base for a one off drive, partnering with Jono Lester. Halliday ranks as one of New Zealand's most versatile drivers, having competed in everything from GT3's, V8 Supercars in Australia, Champcars in the USA, and numerous single-seaters in Europe.
Jody Vincent has experienced an up-and-down season for a number of reasons, but he's one that's keen to make amends this weekend result wise, despite the round not counting for championship points. Jonny Reid joins Vincent in the Koken Tools GT3, with Reid having successfully test driven Vincent's car late last year.
Reid brings huge experience driving around the technical Taupo circuit, having won the Sprint Race of the last year's A1GP race at Taupo.
Former World Superbike rider Aaron Slight is no stranger to racing on two OR four wheels, having competed at the highest level of motor-cycle racing for many years, before switching to four wheels with the British Touring Car Championship. The weekend is something of a 'deep end' jump for the Masterton resident, as he's never before had the chance to sample one of Porsche's newest and finest 997 GT3 race-cars.
Also returning to the team are Christchurch locals Kevin Bell and Rick Armstrong, who partner with Andrew Bagnall and Ant Pedersen respectively. Both drivers combine huge experience at the wheel of a GT3, and after a test day at Christchurch's Ruapuna Raceway in November, both can be expected to get on the pace quickly.
Also returning to the track with International Motorsport at Taupo are two of the previous model 996 GT3's, with last season's 996 GT3 Cup Champion Tim Martin making a one off return to the current season, as well as Auckland driver Rob Steele.
MINI Challenge racer James Kirkpatrick is set to join Martin for his first taste of GT3 racing, and comes off the back of his first round win in the MINI Challenge at the last race weekend he contested at Pukekohe back in November 2008.
Meanwhile joining Steele is businessman Logan Sears, who enters his first motor-race event for many years. With this round of the Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge not counting for championship points, it should be a fun introduction to Porsche racing for the long time Porsche owner.
In addition to the International Motorsport drivers competing, a handful of private teams have entered additional cars this weekend, either 996 GT3 Cup Cars, or earlier model 964 'Bridgestone Porsche' race-cars.
By the close of business on Friday, both drivers will have taken part in official practice and qualifying, before they line up for a ten lap and a fifty minute race each day on Saturday and Sunday.
Drivers entered by International Motorsport for the non-championship A1GP round of the Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge are:
Car , Driver 1 , Driver 2
3 , Ant Pedersen , Rick Armstrong
10 , Jody Vincent , Jonny Reid
11 , Darryn Henderson , Aaron Slight
35 , Rob Steele , Logan Sears
51 , Matt Halliday , Jono Lester
60 , Tim Martin , James Kirkpatrick
82 , Andrew Bagnall , Kevin Bell
98 , Mark Russ , Shane van Gisbergen