The 2020/21 GTRNZ kicks off this weekend at Hampton Downs and its newest rookie Brayden Phillips is raring to take on the challenges.
Having completed a season in the BNT V8s in an ex-Craig Baird V8 SuperTourer, this summer will have Phillips transition into the national GT championship with an eye on an international drive in the future.
Nevertheless, 17-year-old will still stick to his V8 roots and will campaign a Corliss Race Engineering Howe GT Mustang in class B.
The car was previously driven by Kiwi GT ace Jono Lester in the North Island Endurance Series, where it performed strongly on its New Zealand debut.
To get himself up to speed, Phillips has been racking in a healthy number of testing mileage, though he says nothing will match racing for the first time.
“I am beyond excited to have a crack in GTRNZ in the CRE Mustang,” Phillips said. “The car is unexplainable really. They are really cool to drive.
“You can lean on the big tyre, and it requires a different driving style to what I am used to with the SuperTourer being left-hand drive.
“The car is more towards the GT style of race car with traction control and paddle shift.
“But it is surprisingly easy to drive once you get used to it.”
CRE has raced internationally with the majority of their success coming in the form of the TAV8 Asia championship.
The team were heavily invested in finetuning the development of Ford Motorsport in the Asia-Pacific region and this year saw it run classic Blue Oval Ford Performance livery.
Now based in New Zealand and Asia, the team could open the opportunity for international drives in Tranzam or GT cars for budding Kiwi racers.
“I see the GTRNZ class and the car as a stepping stone to move from V8s to GT style of racing,” Phillips added.
“There is a possibility of racing GT cars like these in Asia, and if I perform consistently in GTRNZ this season then hopefully we can get there as soon as next year.
“I am starting to look towards racing in GT cars than the touring car and Supercars way. “But for now, the team and I will be focusing on our goals for the coming season.
“A top-three finish in class is 100% a target that we can achieve.”
Phillips isn’t expecting an entirely smooth maiden season. Still, he is excited to battle through any challenges he is faced up against.
“Well it will be the first time racing at some circuits like Taupo for example, so that will be an interesting challenge.
“Being new to GTRNZ, I also don’t know what to expect in terms of competition. The cars in the category are incredibly fast, and the drivers are really good.
“I’ll just focus on our targets and try to be consistent with my results.”
Main Image: Tayler Burke – supplied by CRE