The Heart of Racing has confirmed their place on the Golden Homes North Island Endurance series grid in search of snaring a maiden title.
Last year, factory Aston Martin driver Alex Riberas and local drift ace Darren Kelly fell agonisingly shy of winning the North Island title.
In the final 30 minutes of the last race at Pukekohe, a tyre sensor drama gifted the lead to eventual champion Glenn Smith in the SBT Motorsport McLaren.
Riberas and Kelly have been retained as the driver pairing for The Heart of Racing’s second season in New Zealand. The duo will once again steer an Aston Martin Vantage GT3.
The team won the South Island Endurance Series and the National final. This year, they are hungry to add a North Island crown to their list.
“It is definitely our goal to get the trifecta of titles in the New Zealand series,” said Riberas.
“Testing the car with International Motorsport has been an awesome experience.
“We are like kids in a candy store. The car responds really quickly to any changes we make and that gets us pretty excited. We are all pumped to put it to the real test in the races.”
Riberas initially travelled to New Zealand for a 10-day Scuba Diving trip in March last year. However, when lockdown struck, he opted to stay put rather than return home.
During his extended holiday, he became friends with Kelly, a two-time D1NZ Pro-series title winner.
Together, they took on the New Zealand endurance racing scene, marking Kelly’s first time competing in a ‘circuit race.’
Back for round two, Kelly is hoping the team can build on last season’s success to launch a championship-winning campaign.
“It feels awesome to have the whole team together again for the first time since winning the championship last November,” Kelly said. “There is a lot of excitement from us all going into this season.
“Last year, we put the programme together two weeks before the first race, so we didn’t have much time to experiment with the car.
“This time around, we have more time to play with setups and strategy. It has been a lot of fun so far.”
The first round of the Golden Homes North Island Endurance Series will be on May 9 at Pukekohe Park.