Motorsport: Tasman sticks with proven achievers

By Eric Thompson

After more than a decade without a team win, Steve Horne is more than happy with his V8 SuperTourers team. Photo / Geoff Ridder
After more than a decade without a team win, Steve Horne is more than happy with his V8 SuperTourers team. Photo / Geoff Ridder

To many youngsters in the world of New Zealand motorsport the name Steve Horne won't ring many bells.

It may for followers of the V8 SuperTourers, as he's the owner of the Tasman Motorsports Group, which ran drivers Daniel Gaunt and Andrew Waite.

However, as with a lot of Kiwis of a certain age involved in motorsport, there's more to Horne than meets the eye. He's the former boss of the 1986 Indy 500 winning team, Truesports Racing, with Bobby Rahal driving, and owned Tasman Motorsport Group's CART team, which had great success with Tony Kanaan, Helio Castroneves and others.

Horne guided Kanaan to an Indy Lights championship in 1997 when he beat teammate Helio Castroneves to the title. Horne hired Kanaan for his CART team the following year and the Brazilian finished ninth in the points with a best finish of third. He won the Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year award ahead of Castroneves.

As a team principal, Horne last won a race in 1999 when Kanaan cleaned up at the Michigan 500. After an 11-year hiatus from motorsport, and coming home to New Zealand, Horne picked up his radio headset and decided to have another yahoo at motor racing - this time in tin-tops.

It may have been 12 years for Horne as a team owner, but he notched up another win at the Ruapuna round of the V8 SuperTourers. In the last race of the season Daniel Gaunt and Andrew Waite brought the team's car home for a well-deserved win.

"We won it in slightly unusual circumstances (Scott McLaughlin and Tim Edgell incurred race penalties) but the record book stands," says Horne. "We were very competitive over the endurance rounds and I'm happy with that.

"SuperTourers is obviously very, very competitive and I enjoyed it. I hope this doesn't come across as sounding wrong, but you just do the basic things right and not try and get too wrapped up in too many trick setups. We had good drivers and a good crew, kept it simple and it worked."

Despite a few hiccups with mechanical problems and the direction of the category, there was good, close racing at times, and if managed well, the category has a good base to work with.

Just because there were hints of success in the first season it doesn't mean those involved can sit back and think things will develop on their own. The V8 SuperTourers' paddock is packed with local and international team management, technical and mechanical talent that, if harnessed and used, can only bode well for the future.

"The discussions between V8 SuperTourers and team owners is improving," said Horne. "I'm also bemused that MotorSport NZ has not availed itself of all the experience available to it. When one season ends and another starts it doesn't mean the same trends are going to follow on. You can't rest on your laurels, so to speak."

The state of motorsport in NZ is a bit of a worry for Horne, but that may be a discussion for another day. Meanwhile, he's is looking to next season, and though keen to get his hands on another car for 2013, there are mitigating factors.

"One of our big successes this year is that we had two very good Kiwi drivers. Daniel Gaunt did a fantastic job for us with all his experience, which was one component of the team I didn't have to worry about," says Horne.

"He added a lot of value and then I had Andrew Waite come along. He didn't have any experience in this type of vehicle but was immediately impressive.

"If I could get two cars I would in a flash. Realistically, what with the state of the economy, motorsport and sponsorship, it's a pretty long shot.

"So, at the moment, the plan is to continue with the same drivers in the same role as they have had this year - unless I can find a fairy godmother, of course,"

Makes sense for Horne to continue in the same vein, as his team has tasted success this season. So, if it ain't broke, don't try to fix it.

- NZ Herald

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