Winton based NZ Touring Car driver Nathan Pilcher has described his first appearance at the ITM 500 V8 Supercar meeting at Pukekohe Park near Auckland last weekend as “amazing.”
Pilcher was contesting the second round of Class 2 in the 2015/2016 BNT NZ Touring Car Series, one of the major supporting races at the event, on just the first occasion he had ever attended the annual V8 Supercar race.
Just to get there was a race against time as the car was only completed at 2pm on Thursday and arrived at Pukekohe a short time later. However that did not hamper Pilcher who managed to qualify fifth on Saturday with a personal best time of 1 minute 11.89 seconds around Pukekohe.
The first race was a chance to see how the car stacked up against the others in it’s first outing of the season and it certainly showed pace although Pilcher admitted the driver was a “little rusty” after not being in a race car since the final round of last years series in April. However despite that he managed to bring the ZIC Commodore home in fourth place. The following morning Nathan started from the outside of the front row of the grid and after a hectic first few laps he was shuffled back into a battle with Simon Fleming until the Hamilton driver spun off at the circuit’s hairpin leaving Nathan to finish fifth.
Pilcher made a good beginning from the standing start in the third and final race on Sunday afternoon going from fourth place into an early battle for the lead through the first few corners. He then settled into a good battle with fellow Southlander Liam MacDonald until MacDonald made a pass into the new complex on the circuit’s back straight. Soon after, both were swamped by the fast closing Class 1 cars. When Brad Lathrope of Auckland pitted to change a wheel after his second tyre failure of the weekend it left the ZIC Commodore a fine third.
Pilcher was rapt with the results from the weekend. “It was a blast! Mark Smith from Magnum Motorsport did a fantastic job getting the Protech Engines rebuilt V8 into the ZIC Commodore and getting the car together in such a short time. We also received some helpful advice from Kevin Williams, the defending champion, who let us use his workshop to get the car together.”