Motorport: Special homecoming for Pedersen

By Greg Taipari


Rotorua racing driver Ant Pedersen has extra reason to be happy.

Not only will he get to race on his home turf in the V8 Super Tourer but he will have top US-based Kiwi driver Matt Halliday sharing the driving duties in his Driven-backed No96 Ford Falcon.

Pedersen is part of New Zealand team International Motorsport with fellow Kiwi Jonny Reid.

Along with Halliday, International Motorsport have also acquired the services of another US-based driver, Wade Cunningham, who will join Reid in his Ford Driven-backed No2.

The two new co-drivers will join the team for the next three rounds of the competition, starting with Taupo on Saturday.

Pedersen and Reid have spent time on the podium in the inaugural series with Pedersen sitting sixth overall and Reid second.

International Motorsport team manager Nick Williamson said the inclusion of Halliday and Cunningham was a huge boost for the team.

"Matt and Wade have both driven and worked for the team before and have complementary skills in terms of the drivers we are pairing them with.

"Matt, for instance, has quite a long history now of co-driving in the V8 Supercars series in Australia even though Wade is still very much known as a single-seater specialist," Williamson said.

"We liked what we saw when we ran him in an endurance race at Hampton Downs a couple of years ago. So we think he will adapt fairly quickly to a purpose-built race car like the V8 SuperTourer."

For Pedersen it will be his first race in the series on his home track.

"I love going to Taupo, it's closer to home, the weather is getting nicer as well as warmer.

"So hopefully the weather is nice and sunny and plenty of people come on down and check it out, it's going to be big," he said.

Pedersen, 24, said the gear box issues he and Reid had in the last round at Hampton Downs have been sorted and he was confident of a good showing for the home crowd.

"They certainly bit us hard at the last round. Jonny was leading and I was third in the championship and we both had gearbox failures and we dropped down to where we now sit, in second [Reid] and sixth [Pedersen]. The cars have had little teething issues but I'm confident in the team and the boys, that we've addressed those issues and the car should be running perfect and we should be able to push on for both races this weekend."

Halliday and Cunningham have been keeping a close eye on the new series and a co-driver spot with a top team such as International Motorsport is the best way to experience it first hand.

"International Motorsport is a great team and I have driven for them many times over the years. The series looks very strong and I'm definitely looking forward to it," Halliday said.

"It's a new challenge and one I'm also looking forward to," said Cunningham.

"It's a purpose-built race car with a decent amount of power and International Motorsport is a professional team so I know I will be looked after."

This season's endurance series gets underway with two back-to-back 200km races at the recently re-named Ricoh Motorsport Park at Taupo on Sunday.

The meeting will be followed by two similar two-driver enduro meetings at Pukekohe Park Raceway over October 27 and 28 and Christchurch's Powerbuilt Tools Raceway on November 24 and 25.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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