A new car and a new look are all part of the programme for BNT V8s Class One debutant Brad Lathrope at the season opener this weekend.
The 27-year-old is getting set to race his new Ford Falcon FG on the support card for the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship Auckland ITM SuperSprint, with the reveal of his new livery.
With a move from the feeder class two and into class one, Lathrope is under a bit of pressure, but said he isn’t expecting to set the time sheets alight at Pukekohe Park.
“Obviously it would be nice to hit the ground running, but being realistic about it I’m not expecting to be standing on top of the podium—if that happens it would be magical,” Lathrope said.
“The main thing is just getting through the weekend with the car in one piece, making improvements as we go, and having a bloody good time doing it.”
For Lathrope, his class one debut couldn’t come sooner. For the duration of his career he’s been aiming to reach the pinnacle of Australasian motorsport; the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
This weekend he’ll get close to the pace set by the Supercars drivers, which he believes is nearly just as good as it gets.
“It’s pretty much a dream come true, there’s no lying about that. It’s something that I never would have thought I could have seen myself doing.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. The last five years have been awesome and we’ve been given some amazing opportunities with some amazing people.
“I love it. Hopefully I can stay here and do what Nick Ross has done and stay in the class for 18-years plus.”
Lathrope has a lap time in mind he’d like to achieve this weekend, but a finish inside the top-five would be ideal. However, he knows with the limited track time he’s had, that might be a tall order.
“I just want to be around the mid-pack and see if we can stick on the tail of some of the faster guys.
“I’ve only had one-and-a-bit days of testing in the car, so I haven’t got the amount of seat time I would have liked. We’ll just go out there and I’ll get to do what I love doing.”
The limited testing and a new speed differential is all new learning curve the Aucklander will have to get used to as well. However, Lathrope said that’s not a daunting prospect.
“It’s a big difference from what I’m used to. I’m not scared of it, but we’re cautious. There’s no point in making erratic decisions.”