New Zealand motorsport fans get their first chance to see the all-new V8SuperTourers in action at the country's newest circuit, Hampton Downs, this weekend.
All 16 cars tested successfully recently and the line-up of drivers is impressive.
There are eight former New Zealand Grand Prix winners including Jonny Reid, Craig Baird, Greg Murphy, Andy Booth and Andy Knight in the starting grid.
Also alongside them will be former NZV8 champions Kayne Scott, Paul Manuell and John McIntyre. Added to the mix is long-time stalwart of V8 Supercars Steven Richards.
Paul Radisich, two-time World Touring Car champion and long-time V8 racer both in New Zealand and Australia, is the category CEO and thinks the new series will be brilliant.
"The whole proposition - of a new series, a purpose-built race car and a fantastic line-up of driving talent - makes this role with V8SuperTourers truly exciting.
"I'm really looking forward to seeing it in action this weekend," said Radisich.
In an earlier interview with the Weekend Herald, four-time Bathurst winner and regular Aussie big banger battler Greg Murphy is looking forward to the new series.
"Hopefully it'll complement both sides [V8 Supercars and V8 SuperTourers] and doing more laps in New Zealand in these cars that are in all respects a lot more similar to the Australian cars than what the old New Zealand V8s were," he said.
Reid finished runner-up to fellow V8 SuperTourer Baird in the 2009-2010 New Zealand GT3 championship before moving to the Australian championship last season where he again finished runner-up to Baird. He's keen to get one over his old sparring partner this time.
"I can't wait to go racing," said Reid. "I feel pretty relaxed and I've got a good team behind me. It's great to be part of a new milestone in New Zealand motorsport.
"To be on the grid with all these guys is going to be something special and I'm hoping to get at least one over Craig but it'll be hard because he's a great racer."
The prototype has been designed and built by Paul Ceprnich, of Pace Innovations Australia, and has a purpose-built monocoque chassis similar to the V8 Supercar COFT concept. The chassis will be able to take Holden, Ford or similar sized car panels from other manufacturers.
The heart of the car is a one make, all-alloy, fuel injected and dry-sumped 7-litre V8ST engine derived from the Le Mans C6R Corvette programme. It will develop around 550hp at 6800rpm and is expected to have a racing life of 10,000km.
"There's been so much talk and so now everyone's really ready to go racing," said reigning NZV8 driver John McIntyre. "Testing was really good and we had a good hit-out. Nobody really knows who's quickest yet, but I'm predicting eight cars will be within two or three-tenths in qualifying."
Another driver who's champing at the bit to get into action is former V8 champion Booth, who has struggled over the past few seasons and thinks it's now his time to get back to the front of the pack. "There's two sides to this," said Booth. "I'm just amping to get out there and go racing because it's been so long. The other side is that I haven't raced for 10 months and I might be a bit rusty.
"The good thing though, is that the cars are all so similar and it'll help unlike the past few seasons in NZV8s where we struggled through machinery and lack of budget. We believe it's going to be great this year."
It would be remiss not to get another former champion's views on the new car and new series. Scott has been a racer for a long time and thinks this could be the best thing since sliced toast.
"It is an exciting concept. The cars are fantastic and, with the confirmation that almost every past NZV8 champion, plus Greg Murphy and several up-and-coming stars will be on the grid, we are in for an epic series."
February 17-19, Hampton Downs
April 7-8, Ruapuna
April 27-29, Manfeild
June 1-3, Hampton Downs
August 10-12, Taupo
September 21-23, Hampton Downs
October 26-28, Ruapuna