Although we headed to round 2 of the AEC in third place in the Championship, we had struggled with the balance of the Objective McLaren in the race last year, so we knew we would be up against it...
It's a unique event in that it's over two days rather than the usual three and starts very early in the morning so really rewards the cars that generate a lot of grip in the low temperatures and benefit the most from the cold morning air.
We also knew that the fuel consumption of the Opticoat Total Logitech McLaren of Fraser Ross and Warren Luff would force an additional third fuel stop which would be an obstacle that would require some very cunning strategy and/ or luck.
The Australian Enduro Championship requires separate qualifying sessions for each driver and with Fraser and Luffy's combined times we started on the second row.
Fraser started and did a great job in the conditions with very low track temperatures. Although there was a safety car period early in the race, it was too early for us to pit and take extra fuel to avoid an additional fuel stop later in the race.
Fraser pitted for his first tank of fuel and tyres on lap 35 of the 128 lap race. He put in a faultless drive and stayed out of trouble handing the car over to Luffy on lap 65.
The MR crew fitted another set of tyres and refuelled to complete the second CTPS (compulsory timed pit stop) within the pit-stop window.
We were running strongly in the top 10 and Luffy had caught and passed the race leader Geoff Emery, to put us back on the same lap as the leaders.
At this stage we were relying heavily on a safety car intervention to allow us to stop for a fuel top-up then head back out to catch the lead pack behind the safety car...
It didn't happen, so we had to pit under green flag conditions which dropped us to 11th and effectively put us out of contention for the race win. Luffy pressed on as well as he could, and despite his late race-pace being quicker than the race leaders, the damage had been done with the last fuel stop.
This was a weird event for us, going into the race knowing we needed some divine safety car intervention wasn't confidence inspiring, but we never gave up and did what we could to be ready if lady luck looked our way!
Many thanks to Fraser and his sponsors Opticoat, Total and Logitech.
The next round of the Enduro Championship is at Hampton Downs in New Zealand in late October while the final AGT round of the year is at Sandown on the 16th and 17th of September.