Reigning NZ V8 Ute Champion, Sam Barry will make the move to New Zealand’s premiere class in April, when he will drive the Richards Team Motorsport Toyota Camry in the BNT NZ Touring Cars.
Barry of Waipukuraru has previously competed in class two of the championship, racing in two rounds earlier in the year, but will make his debut in class one aboard the Toyota Camry.
With the team’s regular driver Jason Bargwanna unavailable to compete at the final round of championship, the Richards Team needed a replacement driver.
“The Richards Motorsport team approached me as Jason Bargwanna was not available for the final round in Pukekohe. They had been looking for a new up and coming driver as they may look at running a two car team next season,” says Barry.
Despite the deal coming together quite quickly over the last couple of weeks, Barry says he feels he is ready to step up to the top class in the championship.
“It all came together quite quickly over the past two weeks, but we did have our doors open to other options, my team and I believe it is the right time in my career to step up into class one of the BNT NZ Touring Cars.”
“At this stage the deal is just for the one round but there is a chance of more. I am very thankful of the support the Richards team has given me so far and this was a opportunity I couldn’t let go. I am still however on the hunt for sponsorship to help the team get there.”
Having previously campaigned a class two Ford Falcon in selected rounds this season, Barry expects the more powerful Toyota Camry to be a lot different.
“The car will definitely be a lot different, but also there are a lot of positives I look forward to in regards to data analysis and mid-race set up changes. This experience will make me a better driver.”
“We are currently working on a date for a test day so we can hit the ground running. I plan to get into a groove with the Richards Motorsport team and get comfortable in the Toyota.”
Despite not having the experienced Jason Bargwanna on hand over the weekend to learn from, Barry says the teams experience should enable him to adapt to the new car quickly.
“It would have been great to have Jason there to share all of his knowledge in the Toyota Camry, although we have access to data & set up information already accumulated from previous events at Pukekohe.”
Barry has set himself modest goals for the weekend, which will be to qualify and race well, finishing as far up the field as possible.
“It seems strange to be going into a race weekend with goals which are to not win but to qualify well, get it a race podium, top 5 for the round. The car is fast, Jason has demonstrated this season it can be up the front challenging for podiums. I want to represent my sponsors and Richards Motorsport team to my highest standard possible.”
“I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of this little rocket ship and prove why I have been offered this fantastic opportunity. Thank you to Richards Motorsport team and sponsors for their support, also to my family, friends and my great fans.”
Sam Barry will line up for the final round of the championship at Pukekohe April 16-17.