Team NZ Motorsport kicks off its Asian Le Mans Series Sprint Cup title defence this weekend at Sepang International Circuit – and we’re really looking forward to being back out on track and are raring to get stuck into the action. Graeme Dowsett and John Curran will drive the #77 Porsche 997 GT3 Cup in the two 1-hour duration races.
Last year we claimed the GT Cup title in the inaugural Asian Le Mans Series Sprint Cup after winning five of the six races, all of which were held at Sepang. The race that we didn’t win though actually resulted in a DNF and was in fact the first round. That proved costly in terms of points, so destiny of the title would end up going almost to the wire as we relentlessly pulled points back. However, the speed, focus and consistency of John and Graeme coupled to superb car preparation and slick teamwork from the crew meant we dug in, reeled back the deficit and got the job done.
Now we are looking forward to getting back on track this weekend after three months on the sidelines and the upcoming ‘Sprint Cup’ series will comprise the bulk of our season with the second and third rounds coming up in July and August.
We did however get our 2017 racing season underway very early on by joining the final two rounds of the Asian Le Mans Series, both the 2016/17 season closing 4-hour races were held in January, at Buriram and Sepang respectively. That netted us a win at the Thai round and a second place in Malaysia in the GT Cup class as well as allowing us to finish the season as GT Cup vice champions, so all in all a great way to start the year.
We regard Sepang Circuit as something of our ‘home’ track so racing here always provides us with a bit extra and we have already enjoyed much success here in recent years. That includes winning the Sepang 12 Hours in 2014 and finishing as runners up in 2015 (both in GT Cup) as well as the inaugural Sprint Cup title last year.
One again regular drivers John and Graeme will share the cockpit of the #77 Porsche for this weekend’s two races, which are 1-hour duration each, with Race 1 starting on Saturday (6 May) at 1420 and Race 2 on Sunday (7 May) at 1355. Before that though on Friday (5 May) there are two official practice sessions of 45 minutes each, starting at 0945 and 1445 respectively, followed by qualifying on Saturday morning at 0900-0915.
The pitwall will as usual be under the guidance of Team Manager Will Bamber and we’re ready to go and looking forward to being back out on track.
Team NZ Motorsport will be supported during the Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup 2017 by Completion Products, Asia Pacific Spiral, Motosure, Pioneer Consultants, Nam Aik, FC and IMPACT SpeedPark.
Graeme Dowsett (New Zealand): “Team NZ is really looking forward to the start of the Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup. We have some good personal and team goals for the balance of the year, and hope to continue from where we left off.”
John Curran (Ireland): “This is the second time we are contesting the Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup in the GTC class, with our winning debut in the same contest in 2016. I think Graeme and I have improved from last year and coming off the back of the two final rounds of Asian Le Mans endurance earlier this year where we secured an overall second place in the championship. However, there is likely to be more Porsche competition in GTC class this year, so any podium this time around will be even harder fought. The car is in a great place, it had a shake down a couple of weeks ago. The team is in place and as usual, on top of their game. This weekend will see Will performing Race Engineer duty as usual. Lucky to have him on the back of his outright win in PCCA in China a few weeks back. The objective will remain much the same, keep it on track, keep it out of trouble and keep it quick and let us see what shakes out … either way the Sprint Cup weekend is always a great race weekend thanks to the professionalism of the race organisers. Best of luck to one and all on track and more to come.”