Team NZ Motorsport made a superb debut in Asian Le Mans Series a week and a half ago in Buriram, emerging from the trip north to Thailand with victory in the GT Cup class – and now they aim to do it all over again, but this time on ‘home turf’, as the championship moves onto Sepang Circuit, Malaysia, for its final round of the season.
The stakes will be much higher though as that win at Chang International Circuit and the maximum points that came in its wake has elevated Team NZ right into the championship fight in the GT Cup class. They will go into this weekend’s 4-hour race in Sepang on equal points at the top of the championship standings and that has set up an explosive ‘winner takes all’ showdown for the title.
Kicking off the year by hooking up with Asian Le Mans’ third round of the 2016/17 season in Buriram proved to be the perfect tonic to getTeam NZ back on track, blow away the winter cobwebs and prepare for another busy racing season. In Thailand local driver Paul Kanjanapas joined the #77 Porsche 997 GT3 Cup’s regulars, Graeme Dowsett and John Curran, in the cockpit.
That proved to be a winning combination but now we have to dig in and do it all over again. This time though Will Bamber will join Graeme and John, our engineering chief and driver coach swapping headphones for helmet as he beefs up our challenge for P1.
Will, younger brother of 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours winner Earl, has been a real cornerstone of Team NZ since its inception a little over three years ago and we all owe him a real debt of gratitude for all his incessant hard work, especially in bringing Graeme and John so far forward as racing drivers. So this is a very good opportunity to congratulate him on securing a full season drive in Porsche Carrera Cup Asia this season with the FAW T2M team. We wish him all the best of luck and success and we’re confident that he’s going to surprise a few people! Getting behind the wheel of our #77 Porsche this weekend will also give the young New Zealander some useful extra cockpit time as he gears up for his new challenge.
We regard Sepang International Circuit as our ‘home’ track. TeamNZ first started racing here and operates from the circuit. In fact we have many very happy memories, kicking off our endurance focused programme by winning the GT Cup class in the 2014 Sepang 12 Hours and following that up with the runners up spot the next year. We continued our rich vein of form at Sepang by winning the GT Cup class of the inaugural Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup last year, after winning five of the six races. So we’re raring to be back on this iconic track in 2017 and there’s no better way to start that off than in the middle of January.
The 4 Hours of Sepang, the final round of the Asian Le Mans Series 2016/17 season, will be held at Sepang International Circuit on Sunday 22 January, starting at 1215 and scheduled to finish at 1615. Practice and qualifying takes place the previous day (Saturday 21 January).
Completion Products, Asia Pacific Spiral, Motosure, Pioneer Consultants, Nam Aik, FC and IMPACT SpeedPark will supportTeam NZ Motorsport at Sepang this weekend.
Graeme Dowsett (New Zealand): “I’m looking forward to the final round and what will be the championship decider. We had a very good weekend in Buriram with every aspect running smoothly. If we can replicate this in Sepang I think we stand a good chance to make an exciting race in GT Cup.”
John Curran (Ireland): “The entire team is looking forward to the fourth and final round of the Asian Le Mans Series. It will be on our home track; Graeme and I have already clocked up many laps on the new layout and we’re looking forward to doing battle with the Porsche from Japan. Unfortunately, Paul is unable to join us for this final round, but Will is going to hang up his race engineering hat on Sunday and join us in the car as the third driver. I’m interested to see where we will be after four hours of racing.”