The Pro-Am round was always going to be an unpredictable event but no one could have imagined the amount of carnage and drama that would unfold over the wet’n’wild weekend at Phillip Island.
McElrea Racing had a massive weekend planned as not only were we running the usual four cars in Carrera Cup but we were also joined by Michael Hovey and Simon Ellingham competing in the Australian GT Championship in their 2011 Porsche Cup cars.
We were well prepared as we had tested at Phillip Island a few weeks earlier and we were looking forward to our continued success in the Championship.
The end result was Renee getting her first podium finish in Carrera Cup, Luffy extending his points lead over Steve Richards despite ending up in hospital for scans after a nasty accident in Saturday’s race and Shae doing a stunning job to lead Saturdays 1 hour race until handing over to Adam Gowans who had one of the weekend’s most spectacular accidents.
We were happy to welcome Geoff Emery back to McElrea Racing to partner Luffy in this year’s Pro-Am round.
As expected Geoff did a superb job as Luffy’s wingman.
After qualifying a combined 7th, Luffy started the race and made his way to 5th place early in the race before being hit from behind by Michael Patrizi.
This ricocheted Luffy into the cars of Fiore and Gaunt with three cars sustaining heavy damage and unable to continue.
Of most concern to the MR crew was the fact that Luffy was sent to the Dandenong hospital for precautionary scans and x-rays.
After he was cleared by the medics he got back down to Phillip Island very late on Saturday night where the crew was still working on his car to get it ready for Sunday’s race.
In race two Geoff started off the rear of the grid and made his way through to 7th before handing over to Luffy who pressed on to finish a fighting 3rd outright and 1st in Pro Class.
Incredibly, Luffy left Phillip Island with an increased points lead in the Championship. He now leads Richo by 54 points in the Pro and Outright standings.
Shae had a mixed weekend. He was joined again by Adam Gowans, his co driver from last year’s Pro-Am and our hopes were high for a great result.
The boys qualified car 88 in 2nd place.
Shae started race 1 and did a superb job to get the jump at the start and lead every lap until handing over to Adam at the 34 minute mark.
Unfortunately Adam lost the rear coming over Lukey Heights and had one of the weekends most spectacular accidents when he hit the tyre wall at the bottom of the hill.
Adam started Sunday’s race and did a great job to hand the car over to Shae in 6th. Shae drove brilliantly to run as high as second in the second half of the race, finally finishing a well deserved 4th outright and 2nd in Pro Class
‘Princess’ had her first podium in Carrera Cup making her the first-ever female driver to stand on the podium in the Porsche one-make series..!!
She was joined by McElrea Racing’s GT3 Cup Challenge driver Tim Miles as her Elite team-mate for this event.
Although not the fastest car on track over the weekend, Renee and Tim did very well to manage the extremely challenging and changeable conditions during the qualifying sessions and races.
They both drove with consistency lacking from many of their more fancied competitors.
A podium finish was a just reward for their intelligent approach to the extremely volatile conditions.
‘Wallsy’ didn’t end up with the result he and the team were expecting.
He was joined by V8 Supercar hotshot David Reynolds who did a great job driving and fitting in to the MR team.
Wallsy started race 1 and after a challenging first stint he handed the car over to David who fought in spectacular style to finish 8th with compromised front down-force from a damaged front splitter.
David started race 2 and drove aggressively to take the lead of the race on lap 2. He drove like the professional he is to lead almost his whole segment.
Tony had a minor off on cold tyres early in his stint which was unfortunate after their strong race start.
‘Wallsy’ did really well to get back into a rhythm to finish race 2 in 10th outright placing him 5th in Elite.
‘Hoves’ enlisted the help of MR GT3 Cup Challenge driver Matt Campbell to support him in the Phillip Island AGT 101 lap enduro.
The guys qualified 15th outright and 7th in Trophy Class.
Hoves certainly benefited from having Matt to share the driving and compare car set-up and strategy info with.
The MR team had great pit stops and an awesome race plan in the changing conditions to advance to 11th outright & 4th in Trophy class.
This was the first event for Simon and Fastway Racing as part of the MR family.
Simon’s car had only recently been imported from NZ for Simon to compete in the Australian GT championship with not much time to get it ready for the first race.
Simon invited Jono Lester (his Co-Driver from the NZ South Island Endurance Series) to support his AGT 101 campaign.
The MR crew was challenged by having to change to a spare gearbox after the first session.
Both drivers did an excellent job despite a lack of track time to qualify 14th and 6th in Trophy class.
Further mechanical gremlins surfaced in the race with the front right side shock absorber going soft.
Both drivers pressed on to finish the race 13th outright & 5th in Trophy class.
To have Renee collect her first Carrera Cup Pro Class trophy was AWESOME..!!
We would like to thank all of our Co-Drivers for the weekend. Geoff Emery, Adam Gowans, David Reynolds, Tim Miles, Matt Campbell & Jono Lester.
Thanks to all our partners and supporters for keeping in touch and following us on our journey so far in the 2014 Carrera Cup and Australian GT Championships.
And finally a very special thanks to all the awesome MR crew members.
To have 18 guys working till 2.00 am with the energy, dedication and sense of humour very clearly on display is an absolute tribute to the passion this team has to enjoy their racing and most importantly, win!!
We now have round 4 of GT3 Cup Challenge at Winton to look forward to and Carrera Cup set to resume on 4 July at Townsville… Watch this space!!