After a very busy round at Sandown only a month ago running in the Australian GT and the Porsche Carrera Cup followed immediately by the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge round at Phillip Island, the MR crew are having a very busy back-end to the 2015 season.
As per usual Warren Luff was on hand as Driver Coach to get the most out of our drivers and share his experience of the ‘Mountain’ in-between his duties as Co-Driver for Garth Tander in the #2 HRT V8 Supercar.
We've had a great run of success at the legendary and unforgiving Mt Panorama Circuit winning three of the previous four Porsche Carrera Cup rounds.
We were also joined by our Australian GT McLaren driver Tony Walls returning to Carrera Cup for one round in preparation for next year’s Bathurst 12 Hour GT race.
Matt was able to secure his second successive Carrera Cup pole position.
In the opening race he got a great start and led David Russell for 6 laps until a safety car period.
After the restart he pushed a little hard into turn 1 allowing Russell to get by on the way up Mountain Straight and take the line for turn two.
For the remaining three laps Matt searched for a way past the much Russell’s ‘wider’ car showing much speed in the process.
Race 2 was cancelled due to torrential rain making the conditions unsafe and no points were recorded.
In race three Matt produced the most forceful and decisive performance of his amazingly short career.
After holding second position for three laps he pulled-off a courageous pass into the high speed ‘Chase’ corner which allowed him to simply drive away from the field collecting a new lap record on the way.
Shane also qualified on pole in the Tag Heuer Challenge Class.
Unfortunately he collected a wall on what was going to be an even better lap during qualifying giving Timmy and the crew a massive challenge to get the car back-together in time for Race 1 on Friday afternoon.
In race 1 after some stern discussions about ‘Championship Management’ from Luffy and his crew Shane did a really solid job to win Challenge class ahead of Bates and Championship challenger Steven Grove.
In the third race he did another great job to lead Bates and Grove and it looked like he was going to win both races back-to-back until he was touched-up from behind by Tony Bates dropping him into second.
Bates was later penalised by the officials but we were already quite happy to have banked some Championship points against Grove.
Shane now leads the Championship by 47 points heading into the final round in two weeks at Surfers.
This was Wallsy’s first and only Carrera Cup race in 2015 and he exceeded our expectations to qualify a very impressive 4th in the Tag Heuer Challenge Class.
In race 1 he did very well to adapt to the car after driving the mighty McLaren GT car with traction control and ABS brakes this season. After a measured race he finished 4th ahead of category regulars Samadi and Cini.
In race 3 he did a great job on the first lap to avoid some spinning cars and other distractions to get ahead of Grove and be running 3rd in class.
If not for an ambitious pass by a Pro Class driver attempting to recover some positions we are confident that Wallsy would have stayed ahead of Grove for 3rd which would have given him 3rd for the round and his second Carrera Cup podium.
There are so many highlights from Round 7 of the Porsche Carrera Cup Championship for us.
We lost a great friend Mark Porter at Bathurst in 2006 so we are well aware that this place can bite very hard when things go wrong.
On the flip-side, when things go well, there is no greater circuit or stage to perform on.
Needless to say we are very proud to have now won four of the last five Carrera Cup rounds at Bathurst.
To have our protégé Matt Campbell win his first Carrera Cup round in such emphatic style on Sunday morning is one of the highlights for MR since our first season back in 2009.
Shane Smollen managed to increase his Championship lead despite a heavy accident in qualifying, again showing the ability of the ‘MR machine’ to never surrender and just get stuck in and fix it!
Having Wallsy back in Carrera Cup for the weekend was a great sense of deja vu but and he thoroughly enjoyed throwing the Cup Car around the awesome circuit.
Of course congratulations to our great mate, team works driver and driver coach Warren Luff for finishing on the podium with Garth Tander in the 'big one' proving that MR has the right bloke dishing out the advice to our drivers!
We have the final Carrera Cup round at home on the Gold Coast in less than two weeks and we are really looking forward to it as the street circuit always provides some great racing as well as a great vantage point for Motorsport fans.
Special thanks to everyone that follows and supports McElrea Racing!