A third former Supercars driver has been confirmed for next month’s New Zealand Grand Prix, held at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park on January 22–24.
Along with his tin-top career, Gaunt is a former winner of the GP — claiming the win in 2007. It was just the second year of the illustrious title being contested by drivers in the Toyota Racing, and to win it Gaunt beat the likes of Shane van Gisbergen, Ben Harford, Daynom Templeman, and Leanne Tander.
Along with two outright TRS crowns (earned in 2005–06 and 2006–07, respectively), Gaunt’s open-wheel history also includes brief runs in the Indy Pro Series and Champ Car Atlantic Cup.
While these days he’s perhaps best known for running the Game Over Auckland indoor go-karting facility in Albany, Gaunt still competes across numerous disciplines.
Gaunt is highly motivated to win the event, having enjoyed four races in the last Asian Le Mans Series aboard a high downforce and high power LMP2 prototype car for the Eurasia team. He shared the roster with Nick Cassidy and, on one occasion, Shane van Gisbergen, another to sign up for the 2021 NZGP.
“Nick is world class and Formula One standard and we all know how good Shane is, so they were a great benchmark for me to see where I was in terms of my pace,” Gaunt said.
“I was very happy with that pace and form in a car that is one of the quickest out there unless you are racing at the very top levels of motorsport.
“That’s partly what has convinced me that I wanted to put together a deal to race in the Grand Prix. I won’t be there to make up numbers and I fully intend to be on the pace from the first session and be a factor in the race.
“If I can take care of the detail – execute a strong start and a strong race from a solid qualifying position then I know I have the speed to be there at the sharp end so let’s see how it goes.
“I’m very excited to be part of it. I’m in partnership with circuit owner Tony Quinn at Game Over Auckland and as well as being a fantastic business mentor for me, I’ve also seen how motivated he has been to stage a Grand Prix at Hampton Downs. The effort that has gone in from a huge group, from the inner team to the wider motorsport community, has been phenomenal and the event is the perfect response to the situation that we find ourselves in right now from a global perspective. Who wouldn’t want to be part of it?
“It should be a fantastic event and a thrill to sit on the grid alongside some of the biggest names our sport has produced as well as some that will be the stars of future years. I’ll clock up number seven and I think about Kenny who will be more than 40 ahead of me and that’s just phenomenal.”
More recently Gaunt was able to win the Toyota Gazoo Racing TR86 Endurance Championship, alongside co-driver Tayler Bryant.
Gaunt makes it three current and former Supercars drivers on the grid for the TRS opener, with Shane van Gisbergen and Chris van der Drift also confirmed for the event. Andre Heimgartner has also been linked to a start at the event, having recently tested an FT-60 at Hampton Downs.