South Islander Justin Ashwell will make the step up to full time as he will compete for the class two championship in the BNT NZ Touring Cars Championship.
Ashwell made his NZ Touring Cars debut last season in the Christchurch round at Mike Pero Motorsport Park (Ruapuna) where was in the top three in his first weekend and backed up a similar performance in the following round at Teretonga.
He hoped to continue the championship head to the North Island’s Manfield round but a lack of a finance budget halted Ashwell’s career in NZ Touring Cars until now.
Apexnew.co.nz has learned that Ashwell has made the commitment to go full-time this season with a new title sponsor DIGGA NZ, along with a few other backers.
“Yeah we are definitely running full time,” Ashwell told apexnews.co.nz.
“The team and myself are very excited for a number of reasons obviously running full time in a class like this is always a big thing.”
“For both myself and the team, we’re definitely excited for the full season.”
As it’s his first full season in the BNT NZ Touring Cars, his double overall round podium finishes aren’t going to his head as his main objective is to be finishing races.
“We are definitely here to learn and getting the enjoyment out of racing within the class,” he continued.
“Of course the podium positions are great but we got to be mindful of what we’re trying to do, where we’re trying to go, and we know we can’t do that in our first full-time season.”
“Anything more than completing the races is always going to be a bonus for us.”
This season in the NZ Touring Cars will see Ashwell return to racing in the North Island with four of the six rounds are in the North Island.
“I have only raced partial races in the North Island,” he added.
“I did raced in my NZ Six class at Pukekohe, so I only really raced one meeting there and raced a partial meeting at Taupo a very long time ago, but we did have car trouble that weekend.”
“I haven’t been back to either of those tracks, I think I was at Pukekohe five years ago (2012) and Taupo was a year before that (2011).”
“I haven’t had much experience with the North Island tracks.”
His class two Ford is currently in Taupo getting the engine rebuilt, and will be testing the car at Taupo and at Christchurch before the opening round at Pukekohe in November.
Ashwell has put his NZ Six AU Falcon on the market, and the Christchurch racer will be racing in Australia at the Lakeside 300 in Queensland in three weeks to keep himself race ready for Pukekohe.