This was another busy weekend for the awesome MR crew with us racing in two categories on the same weekend. Along with Porsche Carrera Cup, we also had Round 2 of the Australian GT 'Endurance' Championship which featured the customary 101 lap race on Saturday morning.
Tim Miles joined Simon Ellingham once again in the Fastway Couriers Audi R8 and Warren Luff joined Tony Walls in the Objective McLaren. The rules for the AEC stated that we needed to do two pit stops with a minimum pit stop time based on drivers grading and qualifying positions.
Qualifying positions were set by combining the times of both drivers. Wallsy and Luffy did a great job to qualify 4th. The strategy was for Luffy to start, do a short stint then hand over to Wallsy to do a minimum of 45% of the race distance and hand back to Luffy for the third and final stint.
Luffy wasn't completely happy with the handling of the McLaren in the first stint, caused by the low track temperatures. Despite his challenges, Luffy soldiered on to keep running inside the top ten as the car's handling came back to him as the track warmed up. Wallsy took over at the 32 minute mark and did a terrific job to also keep the car well inside the top ten and in good condition to hand back to Luffy after almost 80 minutes in the car. In the third stint Luffy was much happier with the handling and charged through the field eventually ending in a well deserved 5th place.
After combining Simon and Tim's separate qualifying times together they started the first race from grid 19; a significant improvement over their 26th at round 1 at Phillip Island. The strategy for the Fastway Audi was for Simon to do a double stint then hand over to Tim after the second fuel and tyre stop.
In the very cool conditions Simon took a few laps to get into a rhythm then produced one of the fastest and most consistent drives of his career. He stopped for fuel and tyres after 34 minutes and then did another hour to pit again at 56 laps. We put the third set of tyres on and a full tank of fuel and put Tim in the car for the final long stint. Tim got up to speed quickly holding off newer and faster cars. Like Simon, Tim produced his best drive since joining Simon in these awesome GT cars.
This was the first time the Porsche Carrera Cup raced on the same event as the Asian Carrera Cup Championship so it was great to welcome our Asian colleagues to Australia and to meet up with a bunch of our old mates from when Leigh, Hayden and Andy engineered drivers in Asia.
We came into the round with Matt leading our mate Alex Davison in the 'Pro' Championship by only 4 points and Shane second in the 'Tag Heuer Challenge' Championship almost 40 points off Bates. We wanted to help Duvashen and James continue their development and working towards the front of this very competitive field.
This round featured two longer distance championship races with extra points available plus a joint Asia/ Australia 'Pro Only' race and a joint TAG Challenge/ Amateur Race which promised to be very interesting!
Shane qualified 2nd in Elite class. He had a very exciting opening race finishing 3rd after a great battle with Bergmuller. In race 2 he had a great start and drove very well to get to the front of the TAG Heuer Challenge pack. He built a handy gap over Grove and stayed out of trouble to take another TAG Challenge victory and second for the round. This closes the points deficit to the lead of the Championship to 19. In the combined Asia Carrera Cup race Shane started on grid 3 and had a good race with the two top Asian drivers ultimately finishing 4th.
Matt did a great job to qualify on pole. In race 1 his first lap was impressive and he opened a good gap which he was able to extend to the finish. The second race was almost a carbon copy of the first, with another cracker start and a 1.6 second lead at the end of the first lap. He then had a relatively quiet race out in front finishing over 3 seconds ahead.
In the joint Asia/ Australia race, he started on pole and had to fend off a very aggressive Frenchman Maxime Jousse around turn 1 and spent the remaining 9 laps managing his lead over Nick McBride.
James qualified 13th in Pro class. In race 1 he got a bad start but settled into a nice rhythm passing three cars to finish 10th. His best lap was just over a second off Matt's. Like Matt, James had a very similar race 2. He got another average start and dropped to 13th but raced well and made some assertive moves through the field to finish back in the top 10.
In the joint Asia/ Australia race, he started from grid 20 and had a cracking race passing 6 cars including highly rated young German Nico Menzel to finish a very strong 14th.
Duvashen qualified 11th in Pro Class. In race 1 he got a good start and after a couple of good passing moves made his way up to 9th. Unfortunately his cars handling seemed to deteriorate and he ended up a disappointed 12th. He got a good start in race 2 and was running strongly and looking likely to make up 2 or 3 places but couldn't maintain the lap times he wanted and finished 11th.
In the final race he started 19th and had to contend with some rather erratic driving from new competitors with unknown driving styles, which lead to a damaged radiator as a result of contact.
After a huge weekend at Sydney Motorsport Park, although we love to win, we were happy with both cars results in the AGT 101 lap Enduro.
In the Carrera Cup Shane halved his points deficit to the lead of the 'TAG Challenge Championship' and is now less than 20 points behind Bates. Duvashen had a rough weekend after finishing on the podium in the AGT 101. James made great improvements especially with his race-craft after a rugged weekend at SMP for the #Rennsport round in April and Matt's clean sweep was most impressive and he has extended his Championship lead to over 70 points.
The Carrera Cup championship now gets very busy with the final three rounds all happening over the next eight weeks.
Thanks to Darin Mandy from Digital Realism for some of the great shots including this one. Notice anything unusual here?
Many thanks to the #AMRC (Awesome MR Crew) who did their usual stellar job! We are looking forward to Phillip Island for the final round of GT3 Cup Challenge in two weeks and hope to see you there!