Jul 14, 2013
LE BROCQ UNSTOPPABLE AT SYDNEY MOTORSPORT PARK
• Le Brocq wins fourth consecutive AGT race
• Antunes stunning in opening stanza of the race
• Points leader Klark Quinn backs up with second, Edwards/Bowe third
• McLaughlan, Cook/Kingsley and Griffith/Perkins take class victories
Australian GT rookie Jack Le Brocq and the Erebus Motorsport GT team have continued their domination of the championship leaving the Sydney Motorsport Park round with the fastest qualifying time, two race wins and a new lap record - a handy weekend for the Mercedes-Benz customer team.
Fresh from his victory and new lap record yesterday, Le Brocq charged off the line to lead the field away, but one of the stars of the opening race - Nathan Antunes - made sure Le Brocq was kept honest over the early laps, tucking in behind the #63 SLS AMG in Rod Salmon’s Skwirk.com.au Audi R8.
The pair broke away from the field early, with points leader and reigning champion Klark Quinn in close pursuit in the VIP Petfoods Porsche 997 GT3-R just a car length or two behind for the first quarter of the race.
Further back Roger Lago made a sensational start in the JBS Swift Gallardo LP560 from the back of the field, to elevate himself into fifth position behind Tony Quinn by the close of the opening lap.
“The field just moved to the outside on the run down to turn one, so I just drove down the inside,” he explained afterwards.
With Justin McMillan and Jan Jinadasa also moving through from rear of field courtesy of their failures to finish in race one, the opening laps provided plenty of entertainment as the drivers settled into a rhythm ahead of the compulsory pit stop window.
As the 20-minute window approached, Antunes closed in, making a huge inside lunge at the hairpin. Awake to the move, Le Brocq gave him room and dived down the inside as the Audi ran deep into the runoff zone. From there the Erebus team gave him his head to charge and break away from the pack, Antunes though going with him, the pair leaving Quinn’s Porsche in their wake.
Le Brocq was the first to pit, eager to break out of the cycle from Antunes, stopping for what must have seemed like an eternity - 93-seconds (taking his starting position and driver parity classification into account). Quinn too suffered the same time penalty, whilst Antunes - courtesy of his race one finish and ‘non-seeded’ driver classification - needed to stop for just 70-seconds to hand over to Salmon.
By the time Antunes hit the pits for his stop - at the 35-minute mark - he was well clear of the Quinns, who pitted towards the end of the window, rejoining behind the charging Le Brocq who quickly claimed Salmon to regain the lead on his way to a 57-second victory.
Whilst Antunes and Le Brocq provided the focal point in the opening stanza of the race, all eyes were on Justin McMillan’s co-driver Steven Richards in the second leg. Sadly for the M Motorsport/GB Galvanizing team though the car still wasn’t 100% after its qualifying incident, the part-time V8 Supercar driver and Carrera Cup front-runner some three seconds off the real pace of the 2013-spec Gallardo.
“Justin did a ripper job in the opening leg, but the car wasn’t 100%,” he admitted afterwards. “We did as well as we could have, and the team did a fantastic job to have the car right for today, but there were clearly bigger issues that needed to be addressed in a workshop. He’ll be right come Queensland Raceway though, the car is seriously quick.”
As the race worked to its conclusion, the attention turned to Salmon who was clearly struggling with the pace of the Audi, some three seconds a lap down on his practice pace. Within ten minutes the former Bathurst 12-Hour winner was relegated from an almost certain second podium to a sixth placed finish as first Klark Quinn, and then John Bowe, Tony Quinn and Roger Lago dropped him down the order before the flag.
“We ran here at the State Series round a couple of weeks ago and I was comfortably running around in 32s and 33s, but I just wasn’t comfortable at all today, and in the end it cost us,” he shrugged.
“The team did a brilliant job all weekend, and Nathan [Antunes] was just fantastic, but I just didn’t have the pace, so I’ll go away and work on that and come back all guns blazing for QR.”
Le Brocq’s fourth consecutive victory was met with applause all round from Betty Klimenko and the Erebus Motorsport team who dominated their second event together, the recently turned 21-year old admitting that his strategy for today was different as a result of excessive tyre wear in race one.
“That was my fault,” he admitted. “The team actually had to change my right rear during the pit stop yesterday, so I didn’t have a full set for today, so I needed to be careful, which is why I didn’t get away from Antunes and Klark.
“By the time we made our stop, I knew we had some work to do to breach the lead that Antunes had established before he handed the car over to Salmon, so we really pushed, and picked up another lap record as a result, breaking our mark from yesterday.”
A relieved Klark Quinn held out a charging John Bowe over the closing laps to hang on to second, whilst Tony Quinn too managed to hold station, retaining fourth place ahead of a hungry Roger Lago.
The Trophy Class sadly was without a winner after both Steve McLaughlan and Jan Jinadasa failed to make the finish, McLaughlan with mechanical failure, and Jinadasa as a result of a recurring alternator problem.
It had been a tough weekend for McLaughlan on his debut at SMP, the Victorian suffering from an eye injury during race one, but after a visit to the local hospital he was okay for race two and closing in on the Equity-One Audi of Dean Koutsoumidis ahead of his retirement.
“It’s either a drive shaft issue or a clutch, but I just lost all power and rolled to the side of the circuit. We’ll go away and have a look at it and be back for Queensland,” he said.
It wasn’t all bad news though, the Dodge Viper pilot recording a second consecutive round win courtesy of his opening race Trophy Class victory.
The Challenge class was again a battle of the Porsches with Brendan Cook and Matt Kinsgley prevailing over Ben Foessel and George Foessel, the duo claiming ninth outright, two laps down on race winner Le Brocq.
As they had done at Phillip Island, Mark Griffith and Jack Perkins claimed the GT4 Sports round win in their Vawdrey Trailers Ginetta G50, this time ahead of Tony Martin and Darren Berry/Keith Kassulke. For points leader Michael Hovey though his weekend too came to a premature end after an engine failure mid-race, whilst Kassulke was plagued by an electrical issue in the opening lap which saw him lose power off the line.
“We got it going again, but it made for an interesting start to the race,” he admitted.
The teams now enjoy a three week break ahead of the penultimate round of the championship at Queensland Raceway on August 2-4 for three 40-minute races.
Keep track of round three of the Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli via the AGT website - www.australiangt.com.au and via Facebook; AustralianGT
The fourth round of the Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli will be televised on SBS Speedweek on Sunday, August 4 from 2:00pm AEST (check local guides for confirmation).
2013 Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli
Sydney Motorsport Park, NSW - Race 2 (13 July)
01. 36. Jack Le Brocq - Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 [CHAMP] - 39-laps
02. 1. Klark Quinn - Porsche GT3-R [CHAMP]
03. 88. Peter Edwards/John Bowe- Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 [CHAMP]
04. 7. Tony Quinn - Aston Martin Vantage GT3 [CHAMP]
05. 23. Roger Lago - Lamborghini Gallardo LP560 GT3 [CHAMP]
06. 6. Rod Salmon/Nathan Antunes - Audi R8 LMS GT3 ultra [CHAMP]
07. 48. McMillan/Richards - Gallardo LP600+ GT3 [CHAMP] - 38-laps
08. 71. Koutsoumidis/McInnes - Audi R8 LMS GT3 [CHAMP]
09. 25. Cook/Kingsley - Porsche GT3 Cup [CHALLENGE] - 37-laps
10. 19. Mark Griffith/Jack Perkins - Ginetta G50 GT4 [Sport] - 36-laps
11. 4. Ben Foessel - Porsche Type 996 GT3 Cup [CHALLENGE]
12. 3. George Foessel - Porsche Type 997 GT3 Cup [CHALLENGE] - 35-laps
13. 9. Tony Martin/Lee Castle - Ginetta G50 GT4 [Sport]
14. 50. Darren Berry/Keith Kassulke - Ginetta G50 GT4 [Sport] - 34-laps
DNF. 73 Michael Hovey - Ginetta G50 GT4 [Sport] - 21-laps
DNF. 77. Jan Jinadasa - Lamborghini Gallardo LP520 [TROPHY] - 20-laps
DNF. 75. Steve McLaughlan - Dodge Viper [TROPHY] - 4-laps