Recently crowned New Zealand Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge champion Daniel Gaunt has today been able to finally confirm his entry in to the 2011 Porsche Carrera Cup Australia, starting with this weekend’s opening round at the 2011 Formula 1™ Qantas Australian Grand Prix, March 24-27.
Concluding negotiations to contest the full seven round season, Gaunt will be joined by his New Zealand championship winning team Triple X Motorsport in what will become a two car team with fellow Kiwi Ant Pedersen.
“As much as it’s exciting to be entered it’s a huge relief after all the meetings with vested parties to make it work for everyone. Then to wrap up the New Zealand championship title during the negotiations made life pretty stressful – which I think is a great way to start a new season,” said the 26-year-old Kiwi.
“We’ve still got a whole lot of hard work to do but I’m looking forward to driving a brand new car,” he said of the Porsche MY11 911 GT3 Cup type 997 that he’ll be racing.
“I’d like to thank Triple X Motorsport’s Michael Morton and Shane McKillen, VnC Cocktails, the Mad Butcher and of course Bob Forbes and MPD Dairy Products in getting us to the start line just in the nick of time. We would also like to thank, Richard Giltrap, Alan Kemp and Andy Barlow for their support. It’s long been a dream to contest the Porsche Carrera Cup series and with its return to Australia it’s also a great chance to use the experience our team gained by contesting the Asian series last year with this model of car.”
“With 23 cars the competition will be fierce, although in my eyes the benchmark will still be Craig Baird. Plus the likes of Steven Richards and Mark Skaife are sure to be part of the front group for the first round. But I’m looking forward at getting amongst it and flying the flag for Triple X and New Zealand.”
Technical director Todd Bickerton and team manager Ian McNabb will be joined by head mechanic Adam Fisher as part of the Triple X crew, who’ve all been working hard to get the deal over the line with last minute negotiations.
“We very much wanted this to happen and are all over the moon that we can now go back in to Australia and have a good chance at the title with a couple of young Kiwi drivers,” said Bickerton.
Hamilton based Ant Pedersen may have to miss the opening round with the series enjoying more drivers than there are cars. Confirmed from the second round onward, the 22-year-old has similarly been chasing for an opportunity to contest the international guide-lined championship.
Defending Porsche Carrera Cup Australia champion Craig Baird MNZM continues his ties with Triple X Motorsport, but will be contesting the 2011 series with another team in a deal concluded before his New Zealand colleagues could confirm his inclusion. The series was last contested in 2008.
Sunday, 13 March 2011, 12:38 pm Press Release: Triple X Motorsport
Round six: 2010/2011 NZ Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge – Battery Town 200, Taupo Motorsport Park, 11-13 March 2011.
Porsche title narrows after Baird wins Taupo race
The battle between Triple X Motorsport team mates and championship rivals Daniel Gaunt and Craig Baird has seen the chase for the 2010/2011 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge title narrow following today’s 30-lap race near Taupo.
Starting the weekend 38 points apart after five of six championship rounds, the pair are now separated by 23 with two races left to decide the title.
Having led the series since the start in early November last year, 26-year-old Gaunt in the MPD VnC Cocktails Porsche 997 finished third in today’s race at the Taupo circuit, behind defending champion Craig Baird in the ZM Mad Butcher Porsche 997 and Jonny Reid.
Strong in the early stages of the race, Gaunt became physically drained, an illness sapping the needed edge to challenge for second position:
“The name of the game is finishing at the moment; it’d be nice to have a little less pressure, for the last two, but we’ve still got a good lead with finishing third today,” said Gaunt.
“Bairdo and Jonny were driving really well, but I didn’t feel 100% and although we were going really well, it didn’t quite match what I was giving.”
For Baird, who set fastest in this morning’s qualifying, it was a long climb to the front of the race after being swallowed at the start. Battling lap after lap with rival Reid, the defending champion was able to put enough pressure on to squeeze past in the dying laps.
“My car was stronger in some areas and Reid’s was stronger in others, so I kept driving pretty straight as I could see his style could potentially offer a window of opportunity through a type of tyre wear. We were bumper-to-bumper at the beginning of the race, we were bumper-to-bumper coming in to the pit-stop and going out – there was just nothing in it the whole race. So it was great to just have no mistakes and get past for a really hard fought race,” said the Gold Coast based Kiwi.
Fourth, Hamilton’s Ant Pedersen improved on his qualifying result in the VnC Cocktails Porsche 997, with a dramatic turn of speed to still be in touch with the front pack after the 100kilometre distance. Sixth, the Gardiner Motorsport Porsche 997 of Auckland’s Hugh Gardiner was testimony to his goal of finishing, without damage.
In tenth was Michael Morton’s Outlaws Bar Porsche 997, with the Mad Butcher Carpet One Porsche 997 of Whangarei’s Scott Harrison retired early in the race as a precaution against a suspected mechanical noise.
Concluding the series championship and battle for position, Sunday’s two races start with a ten-lapper in the morning followed by the top-six reverse grid 14-lap race starting at 3:14pm.
# # #
Qualifying: Crown Lift Trucks Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge – Taupo, 12 March 2011.
1,1,Craig Baird,Gold Coast,Triple X Motorsport,48m03.7
3,3,Daniel Gaunt,Auckland,Triple X Motorsport,+5
4,4,Ant Pedersen,Hamilton,Triple X Motorsport,+5.17
6,15,Hugh Gardiner,Auckland,Triple X Motorsport,+12.396
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge points after race one, round six (of six) – provisional
Pos Name Hometown Total
New Zealand Porsche Cup Challenge calendar 2010/2011
Round Date Venue Inviting Club
1 5-7 November 2010 Pukekohe NZIGP Inc
2 26-28 November 2010 Ruapuna Canterbury Car Club Inc
3 14-16 January 2011 Teretonga Southland Sports Car Club Inc
4 20-23 January 2011 Timaru South Canterbury Car Club Inc
5 11-13 February 2011 Manfeild Manawatu Car Club Inc
6 11-13 March 2011 Taupo Taupo Car Club Inc
For the third time in as many months Kiwi Craig Baird heads to China for another learning weekend as the under-dog in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia race series against a German defending champion.
Currently second after two race events totalling four rounds, the 39-year-old Baird and his VnC Cocktails Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car again head to a venue new to the New Zealand based team. Rounds five and six (of 11) are being contested at the 4.3 kilometre Zhuhai International Circuit in China’s Pearl River Delta region this weekend (18 – 20 June).
“It’ll be about hitting the setup from the get go,” says Baird of the plan to win races and close in on the 16-point championship lead. “We need to be ahead of the pace and Christian Menzel (the series leader). Getting pole position is goal number one. Once we’ve done that the racing becomes a lot simpler and it’s really the start and tyre strategy that become variables.”
“We’ve got a good handle on the setup and are now just fine-tuning our plan on how the Michelin tyre works in these hotter climates.”
“At Beijing we had the car working better early in the race, but didn’t have enough toward the end when Menzel was making mistakes from the pressure I was applying once I’d made up the start-grid gap difference.”
With the additional reward of a championship point for setting fastest time in qualifying, Baird says the start grid illustrates the difference between first and the rest.
“The starting position between the cars is a diagonal and car length behind, so starting anywhere but on pole is a huge backward step. Even with a mega start you’re not going to make up that gap by the first turn – you need to start from the front if you’re going to do anything but win.”
“Qualifying at Beijing showed how we could influence the opposition. With three sets of new tyres available for the weekend we had Menzel’s team sitting in the pits having used two sets already in setting fastest time. They were ready to run their last set just to keep us from starting ahead of them. So we know we’re all but caught up to a defending champion who’s prepared to try anything.
The weekend’s Pan Delta Super Racing Festival will feature a 12-lap Porsche Carrera Cup Asia race on Saturday and Sunday, following an intense 30-minute qualifying shootout on the Friday. Part of the record 23-strong field, Baird says the identical Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars have made his job a lot more rewarding.
“We’re right out of our comfort zone. With different cultures, new venues and the extremes of temperature and humidity it’s a whole lot tougher than anything else you could do.”
The Queensland based Kiwi is joined by Triple X Motorsport’s Todd Bickerton and Ian McNabb who prepare and run the New Zealand funded VnC Cocktails Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.
Auckland based Triple X Motorsport have today confirmed their entry in the world’s largest one-make race car category – contesting the 2010 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia with driver Craig Baird MNZM.
Supporting both the Shanghai and Singapore Formula One Grand Prix events, the 2010 championship covers six venues across four countries (China, Singapore, Korea and Malaysia) starting in April and concluding late October.
The first time the Asia series has allowed entry from private teams, the lure of prize money and an international television audience exceeding 76 million viewers primes the New Zealand team for success on debut.
“We want to win – we think we can,” said Triple X Motorsport team principal and prominent New Zealand businessman Shane McKillen. “Craig has won the Porsche series in Australia and New Zealand several times, Asia is very strong this year and I think maybe the strongest Carrera Cup series in the world. There are lots of European drivers; Christian Menzel, Danny Watts – guys who will be a good challenge for Craig and the Triple X Motorsport team.”
With a substantial lead in New Zealand’s Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge, Baird who has 23 New Zealand and two Australian championship titles, heads to Asia buoyed by his previous success in one-off races last year.
“There are plenty of good guys there at the top of their game: Christian Menzel that drives for the Alzen’s in Germany, Danny Watts, who was the British A1GP driver, Darryl O’Young who drives the GT2 class for the factory Porsche team so I’m really looking forward to it – it’ll be a competitive series. Plus it’s a refreshing change for me as well; I love racing in New Zealand and being involved in Triple X Motorsport, so to go to Asia with my own team is probably one of the most important things. It increases chances of achieving success – having that good group, I couldn’t wish for a better team,” said the 39-year-old Queensland based Kiwi, named in the 2010 New Year honours list.
While the series is based on identical specification Porsche 997-based 911 cars, the team will run the 2010 GT3 RS-based version backed by New Zealand produced VnC Cocktails.
“The VnC brand is very strong is Asia and I think it’s complimentary to motorsport and what we’re doing,” added McKillen. “Plus it also creates a development path for some of our young guys who can now get a chance to run in Asia and see what it’s like. Also there is an opportunity to bring some young Asian series drivers down to run New Zealand over the summer, give them a bit of testing and a few miles before they start their new championship.”
With Baird able to benefit from the summer championship race programme, he says driving one of the 24 new Porsche’s entered to the series will put everyone at the same level.
“It’s a new car – so no-one has any data on how to get the most from the car at each circuit – that makes it a good year to join the championship as it’s never going to be as even as it is now. I obviously have to learn some of the circuits – but we all have to learn the cars; it comes back to the cars more so than the driver I believe,” he added.
“The 2010 car has another 40 horsepower more and is about 150mm wider with larger tyres, so you’d expect to be 1-2 seconds quicker at most circuits – making it a very fast car. Although at the end of the day the car is still a rear-wheel-drive, rear-engined 911 race car like I’ve driven anywhere else.”
With each of the six venues running two races, the 12-round championship rewards a win with ten points plus one point for setting fastest time in qualifying.
Beginning mid-April at the Shanghai Formula One weekend, the team will partake in the official test weekend at Malaysia’s Sepang circuit mid-March.
Porsche Carrera Cup Asia calendar 2010
13 – 14 March Sepang Int. Circuit, Malaysia – PCCA Test Days
16 – 18 April Shanghai Int. Circuit, China – Formula One Support Race
21 – 23 May Beijing Goldenport Circuit, China – Porsche Weekend
18 – 20 June Zhuhai Int. Circuit, China – Pan Delta Super Racing Festival
27 – 29 August Jeonnam Int. Circuit, Korea – Asian Festival of Speed
24 – 26 Sept Marina Bay Circuit, Singapore – Formula One Support Race
22 – 24 Oct Guangdong Int. Circuit, China – Asian Festival of Speed
About Porsche Carrera Cup Asia
The Porsche Carrera Cup Asia blasted off the starting grid in 2003 and has never looked back. Joining the family of hugely successful Porsche “one make” series, it has quickly become the premier sportscar series in the region, with a massive fan and media following.
The Carrera Cup Asia field of Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars offers extremely exciting racing across the whole Asian region and is truly international with competitors from all over Asia, as well as Europe. It represents a combination of experienced touring and race drivers in addition to ambitious and talented gentlemen drivers.
The Porsche Carrera Cup Asia runs as part of the Asian Festival of Speed and is a supporting race to two rounds of the FIA Formula One World Championship – in Shanghai and in Singapore.
This year VnC Cocktails will engage in its yearly ritual at the Triple X Motorsport Porsche GT3 Cup at Christchurch’s Powerbuilt Tools Ruapuna Raceway
The events start from Thursday 27th of November until Sunday 29th of November.
Triple X Motorsport driver line-up:
Car number 1: Craig Baird (Mad Butcher/ ZM Porsche 997) – first overall 2008/2009 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge
Car number 2: Shane McKillen (VnC Cocktails/Juice Bar Porsche 997)
Car number 3: Daniel Gaunt (Placemakers/Hampsta Porsche 997) – third overall 2008/2009 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge
Car number 5: Courtney Letica (Altherm Porsche 997)
Car number 8: Mike Morton (Indians Bar/Hampsta Porsche 997)
Car number 90: Paul Kelly (Paul Kelly Motor Company Porsche 997)
2009/10 Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge – points (after round one of six) – top-ten.
Pos Name Hometown Total
1 Craig Baird, Queensland (Triple X) – 285
2 Daniel Gaunt, Auckland (Triple X) – 255
3 Courtney Letica, Auckland (Triple X) – 229
4 Jonny Reid, Auckland – 224
5 Anthony Pedersen, Rotorua – 197
6 Matt Halliday, USA – 195
7 Mitch Cunningham, Auckland – 159
8 Andrew Bagnall, Auckland – 159
9 Hugh Gardiner, Auckland – 133
10 Paul Kelly, Christchurch (Triple X) – 116
Weekend race programme for Porsche GT3 Cup cars – Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Ruapuna Park, Hasketts Rd.
Details of the Ruapuna Circuit
Friday 27 November
12:00 Porsche GT3 Cup – test session 1
15:45 Porsche GT3 Cup – test session 2
Saturday 28 November
12:05 20mins Porsche GT3 Cup – qualifying
17:30 Porsche GT3 Cup – Race 1 – 29laps
with his team-mates in the finale to finish in fourth, ahead of Daniel Gaunt (Beef and
Lamb – Radio Sport – Trinity Media Group – Porsche 997) in fifth.
Series rookie Courtney Letica (Altherm – Porsche 997) finished sixth after a nil result in
the morning race.
“It was a bit treacherous,” described Letica. “I learned the most I ever could in that
session. Just learning how to control the car on the edge – just drive it a bit slower –
look for the grip and finding the grip so it really taught me a lot.”
“It’s always nice to get a good result – you get the congratulations to know you’ve
done it right.”
Team principal Shane McKillen (VnC Cocktails Porsche 997) rounded out the top-ten
of the 13 finishers.
In stark contrast to the morning race, the team lined-up for the 16-lap top-six reverse grid afternoon race with rain beginning to fall. Led in the early stages by David Reynolds after a masterful start, Baird took the lead just before the race was declared early due to the wet conditions.
“To win all three here makes a big difference to me,” said 38-year old Baird. “The pressure was on – but David (Reynolds) did a good job – he arrived here late and on a green set of tyres to run that hard was a good effort,” he described of Reynolds second placing in each of the weekend’s races.
Baird extends his series lead to 92 points over team-mate Reynolds, with Gaunt third to maintain the Triple X championship strong-hold.
“It’s quite good – if I have a DN F (Did Not Finish) I don’t have to win every race to still be in with a chance for the championship final at Pukekohe.” Sydney’s Rodney Forbes (Hampsta – MPD Dairy Products – Porsche 997) battled with his team-mates in the finale to finish in fourth, ahead of Daniel Gaunt (Beef and Lamb – Radio Sport – Trinity Media Group – Porsche 997) in fifth. Series rookie Courtney Letica (Altherm – Porsche 997) finished sixth after a nil result in the morning race.
“It was a bit treacherous,” described Letica. “I learned the most I ever could in that session. Just learning how to control the car on the edge – just drive it a bit slower , look for the grip and finding the grip so it really taught me a lot.”
“It’s always nice to get a good result – you get the congratulations to know you’ve done it right.”
Team principal Shane McKillen (VnC Cocktails Porsche 997) rounded out the top-ten of the 13 finishers.
Resources: Manfield, kaptured.com, Triple X Motorsport
For more stories and results, visit: http://bit.ly/4H7AH1
Triple X Motorsport hosts Hollywood star Michelle Rodriguez and fellow cast members from in-production movie AVATAR at Pukekohe this weekend
Michelle Rodriguez, star of LOST and various Hollywood hit movies is attending the racing at Pukekohe this weekend as a guest of Triple X Motorsport driver Matt Halliday and principal sponsor VnC Cocktails.
Rodriguez, who plays the role of the leader of the ‘tailies’ in the hit drama Lost’, is also known for her tough girl roles. She was a street-smart boxer in the movie‘Girl Fight’ and is also known for her starring role in hit movie ‘The Fast & The Furious’.
An acknowledged speed freak, Michelle is currently in New Zealand filming the James Cameron film ‘Avatar’ with co-stars Zoe Saldana (co-star of ‘Crossroads’ opposite Britney Spears), Sam Woetherington (an Australian actor) and John David Moore (‘Dodgeball’). The cast will be out to support pal Matt Halliday on Sunday and potentially get in the car for some hot laps with Halliday.
Triple X Motorsport manages and runs cars for star GT3 Porsche drivers Craig Baird and Matt Halliday. Both are at the front of the field after qualifying for the first round of the new season’s championship.
Team boss Shane McKillen, also running a new 997 Porsche, is the owner of VnC Cocktails, a new ready-to-drink super premium cocktail due for release to the market in the next few weeks. Already tasted and approved at the launch of the Porsche GT3 series, VnC Cocktails offers a completely new concept in convenience and style.