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Jul 29, 2013

V8 SUPERCAR VETERANS SET FOR AGT BATTLE AT QR

Just three weeks after the Sydney Motorsport Park round of the Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli, teams are back on the grid for the penultimate round of the championship at Queensland Raceway this weekend (August 2-4).

With Phillip Island and Sydney round winner Jack Le Brocq sitting out the Queensland round, the foundations have been laid for a new race winner, although for opening round winner, reigning champion and current points leader Klark Quinn, he’ll be hoping that he can emulate Le Brocq and Craig Baird and take his second victory of the year in the VIP Petfoods Porsche GT3-R.

It has been six years [2007] since Australian GT last visited Queensland Raceway in a round that was dominated by Lamborghini’s Bryce Washington.

Few of the current crop of AGT drivers have raced on the Ipswich circuit previously, although one driver that has tasted victory in the past, and started from pole position on two occasions, is Maranello Motorsport’s John Bowe, although that was back in the days of Nations Cup [2002/2003].

Bowe will be one of the early favourites at QR, as he will be campaigning the Il Bello Rosso Ferrai 458 Italia alone after car-owner Peter Edwards has had to withdraw due to business commitments. Whilst Bowe will face stiff competition from Klark and Tony Quinn, he’ll also come under fire from another former V8 Supercar regular, Greg Murphy.

After missing round three due to overseas business, Jim Manolios has returned home to enter the Trofeo Motorsport Chevrolet Corvette Z06.R in the Queensland round and has Bathurst partner Murphy back alongside. Murphy - like Jack Perkins - has just come off the Queensland Raceway round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series where both completed laps as part of their endurance event commitments, Murphy with the Holden Racing Team, and Perkins with Garry Rogers Motorsport.

The New Zealander showed how comfortable he was with the Corvette during the opening round of GT at Bathurst, qualifying strongly then bringing the car home in third place.

Another driver that managed to clock some miles at Queensland Raceway during the V8 Supercar weekend was Tony Quinn. One of the stars of the most recent rounds of the GT Championship, Quinn competed in the Aussie Racing Cars series in the new EuroGT, surprising a few of the series regulars by running well inside the top ten on his series debut.

Over the last two rounds of the GT series Quinn has been the big mover in the points, rocketing up to second place after Phillip Island, then dropping back slightly at Sydney Motorsport Park, but with Le Brocq out of the points at Queensland, he will be keen to cement his place on the series podium, and like son Klark, has an ace - or rather a joker - up his sleeve..

“At one round this year the registered series teams are allowed to play a ‘joker’ card,” Category Manager Ken Collier explained. “That means that they can double their points haul from that round, but they have to nominate prior to qualifying.”

Neither of the Quinns have played their ‘joker’ yet, and with QR their ‘home’ track, and with three 40-minute races from which to attain points, you can bet they’ll be quick to nominate them this weekend.

Another local that may well play into that equation is Roger Lago, the Lamborghini  driver sits fifth in the points, not far in arrears of the Bowe/Edwards pairing, although he also sits just ten points ahead of the Koutsoumidis/McInnes Audi R8, the two Victorians always a threat by way of their consistency.

Don’t discount M Motorsport’s Justin McMillan either. Without the support of Steven Richards, the dual Victorian State Series Champion will be keen to make amends for some less than perfect results at Phillip Island and Sydney. He has arguably the fastest car in the series, but luck hasn’t fallen his way recently, something he is keen to address ahead of the series final in New Zealand.

Rod Salmon too is another driver looking to make amends for a less than ideal start to the season, and this weekend the two-time Bathurst 12-Hour champion has another new co-driver. Liam Talbot made his series debut at the second round of the championship in Adelaide, sharing driving duties with Darren Berry in the GT4 Ginetta. This time around Talbot has one of the leading Championship cars at his disposal, and with a race program that includes the Nurburgring 24 Hour in 2014, he is keen to get some solid GT3 miles under his belt.

Trophy Class points leader Steve McLaughlan is another driver making his Queensland Raceway debut, the Dodge Viper pilot coming off another successful Victorian State Series round at Sandown. He won’t have everything his own way however, with reigning Challenge Class champion Jan Jinadasa having all but sorted his JJA Consulting Lamborghini Gallardo LP520 during a private test at Winton recently.

Graham Lusty is back into the series too, although this time he’s campaigning one of the Mosler MT900s that has been a part of the Australian championship in the past, he will spice up the fight for Trophy class honours.

In GT Challenge it will be a battle of the Queenslanders between Porsche pilots Brendan Cook and co-driver Matt Kingsley and father and son duo George and Ben Fossel. The Cook/Kingsley combination took the silverware at Sydney, but points leader Ben Fossel will be keen to make amends at ‘home’.

And in the GT4 Trophy Class a late withdrawal by Darren Berry and Keith Kassulke has left the fight over title honours to points leaders Mark Griffith and Jack Perkins and the man who led the points for the first three rounds, Michael Hovey. Hovey will be alongside Tony Martin for his home event after an engine failure in the second race in Sydney. Whilst he’s in the process of fixing the car, he’s also revealed recently that he has a new mount for 2014, and it has a very interesting pedigree..

WHO TO WATCH OUT FOR?

The weather is expected to be warm and dry, but that may not actually affect the final outcome. On past experience and current pace, you’d be hard pressed to look past John Bowe. Having come off another strong weekend in his Touring Car Masters Mustang at QR, he’ll have his eye in, and with a pit-stop penalty identical to points leader Klark Quinn, the battle will likely come down to the two of them.

The sleeper again though - based on recent performances - will be Tony Quinn. Hot off a weekend of Aussie Racing Car competition at QR, the VIP team-boss will be quick if his past two performances in the Aston have been anything to go by. Don’t discount Roger Lago either, and keep an eye on Greg Murphy who could be expected to be right in the mix, although with a stiffer parity penalty due to his driver grading, Murphy may only figure early in the races prior to the compulsory pit stops.

Despite dramas besetting both Steve McLaughlan and Jan Jinadasa at Sydney, you can expect the fight between them to be interesting at QR, and with Graham Lusty making his 2013 debut in a Mosler MT900, that could go any way, although on past performances the Dodge could be tough to beat.

Matt Kingsley will again line-up alongside car owner Brendan Cook in GT Challenge, and they will likely take the spoils over fellow Queenslanders Ben and George Foessel, although they’ll need a minor miracle to reel the two Motor School Porsches in, in the championship points race.

And in GT4, Jack Perkins and Mark Griffith are on a roll, having grabbed the championship points lead at Sydney from Michael Hovey. Hovey will be alongside Tony Martin at QR after an engine failure in Sydney, and the duo will do their best to keep the Griffith/Perkins combination from three-peating. Daryl Dixon too is back, again behind the wheel of the Nissan Skyline GT-R he raced with Lusty at Sydney 12-months ago.

SCHEDULE

Friday, 2 August
Practice #1 - 9:15am (20-minutes)
Practice #2 - 12:10pm (20-minutes)
Night practice - 6:15pm (15-minutes)

Saturday, 3 August
Qualifying - 11:55am (30-minutes)

Race #1 - 2:45pm (40-minutes)
Race #2 - 6:00pm (40-minutes)

Sunday, 4 August
Warm-up - 11:25am (10-minutes)
Race #3 - 1:30pm (40-minutes)

AUSTRALIAN GT AND QUEENSLAND RACEWAY

The Australian GT Championship last competed at Queensland Raceway back in 2007 when Bryce Washington in his Lamborghini Gallardo LP520 stole pole position (1:10.9019) and three race wins over V8 Supercar regular David Wall (Porsche GT3 RSR), Allan Simonsen (Ferrari 360GT) and John Kaias (Aston Martin DBRS9).

Prior to that GT ran in 2006 (a single one-hour race was won by Sven Burchartz - Porsche GT3 Cup Car) and 2005 (with a win apiece between Washington - Porsche GT3 Cup, and Peter Hackett - Lamborghini Diablo).

In it’s former guise as Nations Cup, the series also ran in 2003 and 2002 where Ferrari’s John Bowe (360GT) set pole for both events. Interestingly another top ten finisher in both those years was part-timer Tony Quinn in a Porsche.

WHERE TO WATCH..

Live streaming will be available by; www.thenationals.com.au (Sunday, from 9:00am)

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 fifth round of the Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli will be televised on SBS Speedweek on September 1 from 2:00pm (check local guides and AGT website and Facebook for confirmation).

Entry to Queensland Raceway is free on Friday August 2, and $30/adult on Saturday (August 3) and $40/adult on Sunday (August 4), with kids under 12 admitted free on all days. Weekend passes are also available for $40.

WHO’S ENTERED FOR ROUND FIVE?

GT CHAMPIONSHIP CLASS
1. Klark Quinn (VIP Petfoods Porsche GT3-R)

6. Rod Salmon/Liam Talbot (Skwirk.com.au Audi R8 LMS ultra)

7. Tony Quinn (Darrell Lea Aston Martin Vantage GT3)
11. Roger Lago (JBS Swift Lamborghini Gallardo LP560)
29. Jim Manolios/Greg Murphy (Chevrolet Corvette Z06.R GT3)
48. Justin McMillan (GB Galvanizing Lamborghini Gallardo FLII)

71. Dean Koutsoumidis/Andrew McInnes (Equity-One Audi R8 LMS GT3)
88. John Bowe (Il Bello Rosso Ferrari 458 Italia GT3)

GT CHALLENGE CLASS
3. George Foessel (Motor School Porsche Type 997 GT3 Cup)

4. Ben Foessel (Motor School Porsche Type 996 GT3 Cup)

25. Brendan Cook/Matt Kingsley (Walz Group Porsche Type 997 GT3 Cup)

GT TROPHY CLASS
21. Graham Lusty (Mosler MT900 GT3)

75. Steve McLaughlan (JAMEC PEM Racing Dodge Viper GT3)

77. Jan Jinadasa (JJA Consulting Group Lamborghini Gallardo LP520)

GT4 SPORTS CLASS
9. Tony Martin/Michael Hovey (TM Motorsports Ginetta G50 GT4)

19. Mark Griffith/Jack Perkins (Vawdrey Semi Trailers Ginetta G50 GT4)

70. Daryl Dixon (Nissan Skyline GT-R)