The Heart of Racing will make its Asia-Pacific debut, with an Aston Martin Vantage GT3 set to contest the New Zealand Endurance Series with Alex Riberas.
Riberas, who along with team co-owner Gabe Newell have been based in New Zealand since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, will share the wheel of a newly delivered Vantage GT3 with national drifting champion Darren Kelly.
According to a report on Driven.co.nz, the two became friends during the lockdown when it was decided that the Spaniard and Newell would remain in New Zealand after originally being there on a ten-day vacation.
It explains Riberas’ absence from the team’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship entry, which returned to action last weekend at Road America after missing two races.
The car, run by International Motorsport, will contest both the Golden Homes North Island Endurance Series and Carters Tyre Service South Island Endurance Series.
The first round of the South Island series is slated for Sept. 12 at Teretonga Park in Invercargill, with the North Island series getting underway the following weekend at Hampton Downs.
“I’ve had a lot of fun learning drifting from Darren,” Riberas told Driven.co.nz. “Now I get to show him the ropes of racing a GT3 car on a road course in these very competitive series.
“We got a lot of help from Aston Martin Racing to prepare a new race car and get it here in time for the beginning of the series.”
The New Zealand endurance season concludes in early November, meaning that Riberas, who was contracted by Aston Martin as a designated North American factory driver, will unlikely be part of The Heart of Racing’s WeatherTech Championship program in any other events this year.
Newell, the co-founder of computer game distribution company Valve, meanwhile, is set to hold a free concert on Aug. 15 in Auckland as a form of a thank you for allowing them to stay in the country amid the pandemic.
New Zealand has essentially eliminated the threat of COVID-19 in its country, having reported zero cases last month.