May 14, 2013
FOUR HOUR FIGHT IN STORE FOR PHILLIP ISLAND
THE OUTRIGHT FIGHT for the inaugural Great Southern Four Hour endurance race at Phillip Island next week looks likely to be between Mitsubishi and BMW.
The opening round of the new-look 2013 Australian Manufacturers Championship on May 24-26 will see a four-car fleet of Mitsubishi’s dominant EVO X RS arrive at the high-speed 4.46km circuit as outright favourites, armed with strong drivers and experienced teams pushing them forward.
Cars from the Japanese brand will go into battle against the strongest BMW fleet ever assembled for an AMChamps race, plus entries representing Ford, Mazda, Honda, MINI, Toyota and Renault - but the Lancer’s are expected to again enter as favourites.
The form team of the second half of the 2012 season, Team Eastern Creek Karts, is back with Garry Holt and Ryan McLeod again sharing the driving duties.
The combination has a new engine and a revised chassis raring to go this season after their ‘toe in the water’ return to the category last year delivered wins at the Island and Queensland Raceway.
“I think there’s going to be some really close racing and it’s all going to come down to strategy,” Holt said.
“It’s all going to come down to fuel economy and tyre management. It’s going to come down to a lot of things. The smartest team with good strategy will benefit.”
Holt believes that his competitors are likely to offer a stern challenge at Phillip Island.
““We don’t know where our (new) engine is at. We’re going to be going into the race with no testing and I honestly don’t think we’re that well prepared whereas I know Dylan (Thomas) is and I know the Pro Duct guys are. I’m pretty sure Beric is, too.
“We’re going to be racing hard all the way.”
Two-time Australian Touring Car Champion Glenn Seton will add firepower to the Mitsubishi charge, joining with the experienced Bob Pearson in the Pro Duct Racing Mitsubishi.
Seton has raced successfully with Pearson at both state and national level in the past, with the team counting plenty of endurance experience on their resume’. The Pro Duct team has also entered a second car, though has not yet named drivers.
Dylan Thomas’ CXC Global team will also add firepower to the Mitsubishi battle having had a strong second half of the 2012 season in his distinctive blue ex- TMR Lancer.
Fighting the four-wheel-drives will be the BMW 1M entered by Queensland car dealer, Beric Lynton.
The experienced Production Car racer has named former Gold Star race winner Tim Leahey as his co-driver in his still-new BMW. Lynton ended the 2012 season strongly with a last-gasp race victory at Sandown, with Phillip Island’s high-speed nature expected to suit the German sports car.
An identical 1M entered by Donut King racing and set to be driven by long-time endurance partners Tony Alford and Peter Leemhuis will add more firepower to an already strong BMW fleet.
Also expected to compete at the front will be the two-time championship winning BMW 335i entered by GWS Motorsport, to be steered by owner Peter O’Donnell and Touring Car legend John Bowe, whilst the Sherrin Racing outfit should also be speedy in their BMW 135i coupe.
The Sherrins have also entered their MINI Cooper S.
The thundering V8 Ford FPV GT of Michael Benton and Geoff Russell could spring a surprise and will fly the flag for the fans of Aussie muscle cars.
As always in the AMChamps, the ‘race within a race’ battle will be equally competitive with class contenders stepping up before the four-hour enduro commences.
Class C looks to be a battle between the pair of Osborne Motorsport Mazda 3 MPS entries, who will take on the brand-new Mazda 6 MPS entered by Sydneysider Adam Dodd and Mark Bell.
Former class champions Jake Camilleri and his Grand Prix Mazda team have also confirmed their return, their Mazda 3MPS often able to take the fight up to the theoretically faster four-wheel-drive turbos at Phillip Island.
The Grand Prix Mazda team are the epitome of the ‘Giant Killers’ theme that often prevails in Production Car racing and will be targeting another strong outright result as well as a class win next weekend.
GWS Motorsport also have a single BMW 130i entered, to be driven by Suzuki Swift Racing series regulars, brothers Scott and Mike Gore.
Two-time Australian GT Champion Mark Eddy and Francois Jouy will return to challenge for the class D fight in their revamped Honda Integra Type R, and will take on the similar Honda of Terry Conroy and the Renault Clio Sport of Mr Excitement, Richard Gartner and co-driver Franck Donniaux.
Eddy and Jouy have been racing together for more than ten years, their CV including a class win together in the prestigious Sepang 12 hour race in Malaysia.
The Network Clothing-sponsored team has also unveiled a new livery on their speedy Honda.
The race will also see the AMChamps debut of Toyota’s 86 coupe, entered by Pedders Racing.
The Great Southern Four Hour will be held in conjunction with round three of the Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals at Phillip Island on May 24-26.
Round three of the Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli and the third round of the Radical Australia Cup will also feature endurance racing, whilst round two of the Australian Suzuki Swift Racing series and the PRB Racing Series will offer sprint racing fans plenty of entertainment.