Kiwi driver Zac Stichbury will be one to watch when the 2023 Porsche Sprint Challenge Australia gets underway in two weeks time having made “seriously positive inroads” in pre-season testing.
The Aucklander has had two recent hit-outs in the Team Porsche New Zealand and Earl Bamber Motorsport entry and said to Velocity News that progress is quick and positive.
“[Pre-season testing] was an eye-opener,” he said. “The first test day was at Phillip Island which was positive. It was a pretty big day to be honest, first time in the car and first time to try out an Australian track. Couldn’t ask for a better track to be honest but far out it was pretty intense.
“The speed, grip and control of the Porsche and just the whole thing of how professional it is over there was just unreal.
“Seriously exciting to just be a part of it. It was a busy day, we just ironed out a few techniques and bits and pieces and just tried to get comfortable in the car.”
The second testing program was run at The Bend in South Australia just last week, Stichbury again happy with the progress made.
“Last week we did two days at The Bend which I think we made seriously positive inroads.
“With the first day, being Monday, we were just getting comfortable with everything and getting to grips with a new track. We came back Tuesday and really put the right foot forward and progressed with the team and made a massive gain with how comfortable I was in the car and with pace and race-pace as well.
“After testing at The Bend, and even Phillip Island at the end of the day which went really well for us, the pace is there and we’re going to continually get stronger and stronger. At the moment we’re in a good place and a very good starting point and the team are really happy but we shall soon find out.”
Having a slightly more experienced teammate in Marco Giltrap, also of New Zealand, has reaped reward for Stichbury who says Giltrap has been great in helping with his progress.
“He’s been awesome. We’ve done all the test days together now. His experience in a car and what he’s done back in New Zealand has helped him progress a little bit quicker in ways.
“Working with him, he has a bit more of an understanding about the car and he’s been real open to help. We’ve been working really well together. It’s exciting, we get along really well so I’m pretty excited to get to the first round and see where we both end up.”
Some further Kiwi talent has also been of great assistance, Stichbury having the likes of last year’s runner-up Ryan Wood and Supercars driver Matt Payne in his corner.
“We’re good mates and obviously he’s given some pretty good advice here and there,” he said of Wood, who he lived with on the Gold Coast initially when moving to Australia.
“Matt Payne’s also been really good, we’ve done a few sim sessions together. That helped when we first went to Phillip Island. I spent a bit of time around at his on the sim getting as ready as possible so I’ll be back over there and practicing in his sim before the first round.”
Now living in Brisbane after Wood relocated to prepare for his Super2 campaign, Stichbury says he can’t wait to race on further Australian tracks.
“I’ve ticked two [Australian tracks] off at the moment and went to the Bathurst 12 Hour to watch and help the team and the tracks that are here are just next level. To be able to race a Porsche on them all is seriously exciting to be a part of it. I can’t wait.”
The 2023 Porsche Sprint Challenge gets underway at Phillip Island next weekend and runs rounds in support of the Supercars’ Tasmania SuperSprint and Sydney SuperNight.
A further highlight of the season is a Mount Panorama round with the class supporting the Bathurst International in November.
Three Kiwis are competing in the field with Stichbury and Giltrap joined by Ronan Murphy.
2023 Porsche Sprint Challenge calendar
|3-5 March||Phillip Island|
|28-30 April||Queensland Raceway|
|19-21 May||Tasmania SuperSprint|
|28-30 July||Sydney SuperNight|
|13-15 October||The Bend|
|9-11 November||Bathurst International|
Header Image: Porsche New Zealand