Super Black Racing Supercars boss Tony Lentino dies aged 42
Super Black Racing founder and owner Tony Lentino got one of his motor-racing wishes just before his death on Monday.
Lentino, who was 42, died at his home in Wellsford, north of Auckland, after a 15-month battle with cancer.
Lentino was the driving force behind the all-Kiwi team which has competed full-time in the Australia Supercars V8 Championship for the last two seasons after making a wildcard debut at Bathurst in 2014.
Super Black gained its first Supercars pole position at Queensland Raceway on Saturday. Driver Chris Pither finished 11th in that race but gave the team a coveted top-10 finish with eighth placing in Sunday's race.
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"Tony had a dream and took us all on the journey with him. He always wanted for a pole (start) and a top ten finish and this weekend he got to see it," said Super Black Racing's operations manager, Greg Hahn.
"He will be deeply missed by the team."
Lentino was diagnosed with the rare small cell cancer last year and after intense treatment went into remission in late October. But the cancer returned.
He had fought it "with all the energy he poured into everything he did", Hahn said.
"Tony was passionate about lots of things in life and while he toughed it out when he was young to establish himself as a very successful businessman, he never forgot where he came from and giving young people a chance, especially Kiwis, was central to the creation of the Super Black Racing team.
"Tony loved nothing more than taking it to the Aussies and having a Supercars team was a great way to mix his passion for his country with his love of motorsport.
Lentino, who last year sold his Hawke's Bay internet company for $35 million, said in November he was committed to only using New Zealand drivers.
"That's one thing I noticed after all my treatment for that bloody cancer, when I came back to New Zealand there was definitely much more awareness [about the team]," he said.
R.I.P. Tony Lentino 1973-2016. pic.twitter.com/8Nsz6jxC16— nickmossdesign.com (@nickmossdesign) July 25, 2016
Hahn said: "We will race on in memory of Tony but for now our thoughts and support are fully with the young family he so sadly leaves behind."
Lentino is survived by his wife Emily and two daughters, Izabella and Sofia.