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May 28, 2013

LE BROCQ IN DEVASTATING FORM AT PHILLIP ISLAND

Coming into the Phillip Island round of the Australian GT Championship, new Erebus Motorsport recruit Jack Le Brocq was somewhat flying ‘under the radar’, the 20-year old an unknown quantity in amongst the series regulars. He had big shoes to fill too, sitting in a seat formerly occupied by such names as Christian Klien, Craig Baird, Bernd Schneider, Maro Engel, Tim Slade…

By the close of the two-race program though, everyone knew exactly what the reigning Australian Formula Ford champion was capable of, the young Victorian smashing both the qualifying and race lap records by more than three-seconds, on the way to two dominant race victories.

Whilst GT teams around the world will now have the name Le Brocq on their radars, Jack was typically relaxed about the result, his post race comment perhaps summing up the gravity of the situation for him after such an impressive debut.. “That was pretty good..”

Say no more..

Former V8 Supercar champion and Bathurst 1000 winner John Bowe however had a little more to say about Le Brocq’s drive having been in the box seat for the Mercedes’ pilot’s ‘master class’ during race one.

“This kid is as good as any of the imports [drivers] Erebus put in the car last year,” Bowe admitted after the opening race. “He’s the complete package, no question, I was very impressed.”

Having established an arrangement to progress Le Brocq through from the Formula 3 program to the GT program, the Erebus team went to Winton Motor Raceway to ensure Jack was comfortable in the car, the Erebus Academy recruit quickly impressing the team by running the SLS AMG well within reach of the GT lap record.

From opening practice at Phillip Island it was clear he would be a contender for the race victory, although until qualifying, nobody really knew by how much.

The benchmark lap time was always going to be in jeopardy after the Phillip Island circuit was resealed in late 2012, with talk that it had improved the pace of the circuit by up to a second and a half per lap.

It meant little to Jack though as he focused on establishing the benchmark time for the opening one-hour race, in the process shattering the established mark set by Maro Engel in September 2012 (1:29.6148) to claim pole position, resetting the bar to 1:26.5248.

With John Bowe alongside in the Ferrari for the rolling start, Jack controlled the field, charging away at the line with Bowe in close pursuit. A steady cautious start - a hallmark of his approach since first stepping under the ‘gullwing’ for his first lap in the SLS AMG - to allow the tyres to come up to temperature and pressure, allowed Bowe to stick with the Mercedes early, but Jack was soon up to speed, establishing a 20-second lead by the time he made his compulsory mid-race pit stop.

By virtue of his status as a professional driver, he was faced with a nine-second longer stop than Bowe, and an 18-second longer stop than Tony Quinn (Aston Martin), however he was able to rejoin in the lead, using his race fitness to power away to a commanding 35-second victory, with Tony Quinn second and Lamborghini’s Roger Lago third.

“It was pretty good,” Le Brocq grinned post-race, oblivious to his complete domination of the race. “It was a bit dicey to start with under a full 100+ litre fuel load and low tyre pressures, but once the tyres were at temperature, it was pretty comfortable.”

Adding to his seemingly effortless victory, Jack also managed to demolish the established race lap record set last September by experienced international GT campaigner Allan Simonsen (1:31.2837), resetting the benchmark to 1:27.5008, three laps from home.

Race two saw an almost carbon-copy of race one, with Jack again charging away from the field after a cautious start, he was again up by more than 20-seconds at the time of his pit stop, and this time powered away to a 42-second win over Tony Quinn and reigning champion Klark Quinn, again lowering the lap record - this time to 1:27.1505.

“That was REALLY good,” he beamed afterwards, understanding the impact of the Erebus team’s efforts for the weekend, but typically, as a racing driver, it was just all in a days work.

“We were absolutely rapt with the way Jack approached the weekend,” Barry Ryan, Erebus Motorsport’s General Manager-Motorsport admitted. “He didn’t put a foot wrong all weekend, he took onboard everything we showed him and did everything he was asked. On top of that he continued the Erebus

Motorsport tradition, and wound up with pole position, two race victories and a new lap record. Apart from being second fastest in the wet warm-up this morning, he was on top in every session. A very mature drive.”

The result too was a testament to the Erebus Academy program which despite being in it’s formative stages, has already seen a rising young star work with the team to further his career, and at the same time enjoy the invaluable experience of driving with a world class team. “This works two ways,” Ryan explained. “It allows us to work with the next generation of successful drivers, and also help them to continue with their careers by supporting them with the Erebus infrastructure. Not all of them will make it to the top, but on the way our aim is to ensure we instill in them all the things they need to go as far as they can, that’s what the Academy is all about, so for us, this was a dream result.”

Jack Le Brocq and the Erebus Academy enjoy combined support from Fuchs, KooGa, Kings Apparel, Snap On, Wrap My Ride, DynoTech by Dyno Dynamics, Sensorsafe Electrical, JHB Shop Fitters and Signature Series Group.

About Erebus Academy;
The Erebus Academy aims to build careers in motorsport. From driver development, engineering, mechanics, to team management and more. The Erebus Academy strives to assist those in grass roots movements, grow into world class motorsport professionals.