Poll pairs motorsport stars
Two of New Zealand motorsport’s biggest names will team up for the last Australian GT event to be held in Cromwell.
V8 Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen and drifting legend ‘Mad Mike’ Whiddett will drive one of Tony Quinn’s two McLarens in the Highlands 501 event at the Central Otago track this weekend.
The Whiddett and van Gisbergen pairing was selected via an online poll on Highlands Facebook page. Tony Quinn and Highlands resident driving professional Andrew Waite will race in the other McLaren.
For drift superstar, ‘Mad Mike’ Whiddett, it’s another chance to show off his circuit racing skills after an impressive debut at last year’s Hampton Downs 101.
‘‘It’s a dream come true to get back to Highlands and have another crack in a GT car,’’ Whiddett said.
‘‘For me, being a rookie, it will be awesome to spend a weekend with SVG and I’m confident we’ve got the speed to compete with the top guys.’’
Highlands had been a happy hunting ground for van Gisbergen, who won the Highlands 101 in 2015 with Klark Quinn. Highlands owner Tony Quinn said it would be the last time the Australian GT Championship would race around the Cromwell circuit, but the team at Highlands was looking forward to next year and an event that would celebrate New Zealand motorsport and driving talent.
‘‘It’s been a hell of a journey over the last five years...I’m one of the few people in the world who is a circuit owner, event promoter, category owner, sponsor and race car driver and with all of those roles comes different responsibilities. We’ve had some scary moments. In 2015, a Lamborghini caught fire in the pits and a few laps later an Aston Martin ended up in the forest. Thankfully nobody was injured but it’s always a concern to me during the event, that everybody stays safe and enjoys themselves.
‘‘I’m very proud of the track, the event and the team at Highlands. We’ve put on a bigger and better event every year and the team punches above it’s weight. We’re committed to putting on a bigger and better event every year, and the plan for 2018 is for more of the same, except this time with a focus on homegrown New Zealand motorsport talent.’’
V8 Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen and drifting legend ‘Mad Mike’ Whiddett will drive in the last Australian GT event at Highlands 501.