John De Veth will be stepping from one McLaren to another at the season-opening round of the Golden Homes North Island Endurance Series with the reigning GTRNZ champion getting behind the wheel of SBT Motorsport’s second 650S GT3.
Having undergone knee surgery, De Veth was unable to contest this year’s three-hour championship with long-time co-driver Glenn Smith. Instead, international GT ace Chris van der Drift will replace De Veth and partner Smith for the opening round at Hampton Downs.
De Veth was then set to campaign his Holden Commodore SuperTourer in the one-hour race but today confirmed he will now line up in the team’s second McLaren which sports a black-and-white livery.
The announcement no doubt puts De Veth as a favourite among the 38-strong grid which features an impressive array of GT, V8 and home-built machinery.
“Glenn kindly offered me the drive in the black McLaren for the one hour instead of having me in my Holden,” De Veth wrote on social media.
“Then we can see if I am up to it, and if so, then maybe we will head to the South Island for round two [of the South Island Endurance Series] at Ruapuna.”
Defending one-hour overall series champion Matt Whitaker will line up in his 991-Gen2 Porsche GT3 Cup car as will 16 year old, “young gun” Callum Hedge in his slightly older 991 Gen 1 Porsche GT3 car, who will likely be the lead challenger’s to De Veth.
Not to be discounted is Tim Edgell who will race his ITM sponsored modified V8 Supertourer, which may well hold a horsepower advantage over the Porsche GT3 cars.
Elsewhere, Andy Duffin returns in his Mazda RX-7 which last year proved to be capable of competing against some of the quicker GT3 cars.
De Veth has contested the one-hour championship before, sharing his V8 SuperTourer with Smith in the 2018 national championship race from Pukekohe. The pairing finished second after losing the lead to Shane Hodgson late in the race.
This year’s one-hour championship kicks off from Hampton Downs this Saturday, with event officials having confirmed spectators will be permitted to the meeting.
The one-hour field will have a 30-minute qualifying from 9.40 am which will set the grid for the main race which gets underway from 11.30.