V8 SuperTourer points leader Jonny Reid will be flying different colours when he takes to Hampton Downs to defend his lead this weekend.
Reid and International Motorsport teammate Ant Pedersen - who lies fifth in the series points standings - have been two of the best performing Ford Falcon drivers in the series and this weekend will be racing in NZ Herald/Driven livery.
Driven will sponsor the two Falcons for the Hampton Downs round, and the enduro events at Taupo, Pukekohe and Powerbuilt Tools Raceway later this season.
Pedersen's cousin Haydn and Porsche drivers Ian Hayr and Wayne Tinker will bolster the five-strong International Motorsport team entry in support classes over the next two days.
Former A1GP World Cup of Motorsport race winner and series runner-up Reid has been moving up the V8 SuperTourers NZ leaderboard since the opening round of the 2012 series at Hampton Downs in February.
He finally leap-frogged fellow Ford driver John McIntyre to claim the number one spot after a breakthrough win at the tough third round at Manfeild in late April.
There Reid qualified quickest and won two of the three races to head into this weekend's sprint series 'final' with an 88-point lead over McIntyre.
Not one to rest on his laurels, the weekend after Manfeild, the 28-year-old Aucklander claimed another round victory, this time in Australia's Porsche GT3-based Carrera Cup series.
Since then he has hardly been out of a plane or car, chalking up a further Carrera Cup race win at the most recent round of that series at Phillip Island a fortnight ago, and returning to Australia earlier this week to test the V8 Supercar he will share with former kart star Michael Patrizi in the V8 Supercar series endurance races at Sandown and Bathurst.
Seat time like this is invaluable for any driver, particularly one competing in a category like the new V8 SuperTourer series, where the cars are mechanically identical. And Reid believes it will make a difference this weekend.
"I expect the competition to be very, very tough, there's no question about that, but right now with the racing I've done and the results I've achieved in Australia since Manfeild I am very excited for the weekend ahead," he said.
Teammate Ant Pedersen shares similar sentiments, despite - in stark contrast to globe-trotting Reid - having spent the past five weeks back behind a desk.
"The plan," says the young second-generation racer originally from Rotorua but now living and working in Hamilton, "is to go out there and race as hard as we can and be either at the front or as close to the front as we can."
Having already won a race - the final at the opening round in February - the 23-year-old knows he has it in him. The only problem, so far, is that he has not been as consistently quick in qualifying as he has in the races. And with good points - from 70 for pole down to 27 for 10th place - on offer in qualifying, a good performance this weekend could mean the difference between staying fifth overall or improving to third.
"The bottom line," says Pedersen," is that we haven't been qualifying near our potential. In the races we've got fantastic pace, it's just that it would make my job much easier in the races if I qualified better."
Murph wants a miracle
Greg Murphy admits he'll need a miracle to win the V8 Supercars sprint championship component - but in typical Murph style he isn't rolling over.
"We pretty well dominated the first round at Hampton Downs, and clearly we were the fastest car and the best prepared," he told Speedcafe.com. "But in the third race, there was carnage. Anything can happen.
"I don't see the top three dominating this weekend, anyway. No one has really dominated this championship. We've seen a few different guys winning races, Johnny McIntyre has really come on strong, but Foggy will get his act together fast, and there are a few others that have shown good speed, including my M3 team-mates (Paul Manuell and Richard Moore)."
The V8 SuperTourers will be supported by the V8 Challenge Cup series and the Production Muscle Cars, Japanese Open and Allcomers saloon car classes.
The first 20-lap V8 SuperTourer race takes place this afternoon, with two more races tomorrow - a 25-lap spring in the morning and the 35-lap final later in the afternoon.
Points after Rnd 3
1. Jonny Reid 1626
2. John McIntyre 1538
3. Greg Murphy 1264
4. Kayne Scott 1252
5. Ant Pedersen 1240
6. Craig Baird 1153
7. Andy Booth 1038
8. Steven Richards 1030
9. Eddie Bell 883
10. Andy Knight 860