Tuesday, Jun 18 07:00pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Racer Products recruit new co-driver for South Island Endurance Series

Racer Products has confirmed that Gene Rollinson and Rhys Gould will contest all four rounds of the Carter's Tyre Service South Island Endurance Series together.


Rollinson and Gould will pilot the same Hyundai i30 N TCR car − now backed by Signature Homes as well as Racer Products − that was run in the ENEOS North Island Endurance Series.


A South Island-based club racer, Gould said he’s excited to be driving alongside Rollinson, a former New Zealand Endurance Championship winner.


“I spent the weekend with Gene and the rest of the Racer Products team at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park for the North Island Endurance Series final and was very impressed with how they operated,” Gould said.


“I’m also very excited to be driving a front-running TCR car. The class is definitely the way forward for New Zealand motorsport, even though I own a couple of V8s.


“Driving alongside Gene will give me the opportunity to learn from such an accomplished racer. We’re planning to do some testing together prior to the first round, so I’ll have the benefit of being coached ‘one-on-one’ with Gene, who has also coached a number of other gentleman drivers.”


Rollinson goes into the four-round South Island championship off the back of dual successes in Class 2 of the North Island Endurance Series.


After two rounds with Jordan Michels the Hyundai i30 N TCR car has a 100 per cent record with wins at Pukekohe Park and Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, a stat they’re hoping to continue.


It’s not yet known what sort of competition they’ll have in the South Island Endurance Series, but the area is home to the lion’s share of TCR cars in the country.


It’s also a big boost for Rollinson who will likely go into the inaugural season of the TCR New Zealand Series as the most experienced driver for TCR miles.


“I’m really looking forward to the South Island Endurance Series,” he said.


“It’ll give me a lot more seat time in preparation for the inaugural TCR New Zealand Series.


“It’ll also be good to cut some laps at Highlands Motorsport Park too, which is where I believe the first round of the TCR New Zealand Series might be held next year.


The rules of the respective endurance series dictate that one of the two designated drivers must be an amateur driver.


“I think Rhys and I are fulfilling the intention of the rule,” Rollinson said


“Which is obviously to encourage amateur or gentleman drivers to step up into a national series and gain a lot of experience they would not normally have the opportunity to do.


“It’s also designed to stop so called ‘cheque book’ racing, where a team can afford to run two Elite drivers and thus discourage amateur racers from participating in these long distance team events.”


Team Principle Mark Petch said the decision was made to put Gould in the car after he signalled his interest in the TCR platform.


“Rhys expressed his plans to purchase a Hyundai i30 N TCR car and having us run the car for him alongside our own car,” he said.


“The more we talked about it, the more it made sense for both of us to run together, so we’ve decided to put him in the car and we’ll see how it goes.”


The I30N TCR is an ideal car for endurance racing as its on track performance belies its diminutive size and comparative lack of horsepower (350bhp), which is why it’s been labelled a giant killer by some.


Rollinson and Michels finished fifth outright at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park and were also fifth fastest outright on the way to Rollinson setting a new lap record for Class 2 cars.


The pair also finished sixth outright at Pukekohe Park and won the TCR/GT4 class comfortably, even though they had issues that prevented them from finishing even higher up the order in both races.