With Fraser leading the Australian GT championship we were keen to get to New Zealand for the final round, which included the 3rd and final round of the Australian Endurance championship (AEC). Although we weren't in championship contention for the 'AEC' we were leading the combined 6 round 'AGT' championship by a narrow margin over Peter Hackett and Dom Storey in the Merc.
Due to the low number of entries for the final round of the AGT championship in New Zealand, the AGT management came up with a novel qualifying system consisting of a ‘pre-qualifying’ session for each driver which set the grid for a 30 lap qualifying race. After combining the best time from each driver from pre-qualifying, the boys qualified 3rd.
In the qualifying race Duvashen started and got to 2nd on the first lap before putting in a great drive then handing over to Fraser. Due to our driver rating we were able to exit the pit with a narrow margin to Dom Storey in the Merc. Despite a solid drive from Fraser, Storey and Martin were able to get by over the course of the remaining laps. Once a penalty was applied to the Merc, we were able to start the big race from grid position 2.
Fraser settled into 2nd at the start but on lap 3 he was hit by Hackett and sent into the gravel trap. The incident gave him a puncture which the team were able to quickly replace and keep Fraser in the race, albeit in last place, but importantly, on the lead lap and in contention.
He stopped for his first CTPS (compulsory timed pit stop) on lap 22 and came out of the pits still in 11th place. Fraser held 10th place for most of his second stint until he pitted on lap 46.
We had a good pit stop and Duvashen got back into the race in 8th place. He had a very solid stint and pitted for the final time on lap 70. We gave him just enough fuel to get to the end and a set of green tyres. Although he did his fastest laps, his last stint was rather lonely with a gap to the car ahead and a gap to the car behind and he ended up bringing the McLaren home in 6th.
It was heartbreaking for Fraser to be turned around so early in the race, effectively taking him out of the championship hunt. We certainly had the pace and strategy to win the race which made it all the more frustrating!
Congrats to former MR Pro-Am co-driver Geoff Emery on winning the 2019 AGT championship.
On behalf of MR and our drivers we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support throughout the season. We now rush back to the workshop to prepare for the final round of the Australian Porsche Carrera Cup championship this weekend.