It’s the Australians versus the All Blacks.. on wheels!
It’s the Australians versus the All Blacks.. on
Rnd#6 [FINAL] 2013 Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli
Highlands Motorsport Park, Cromwell, NZ (8-10 November)
29 September, 2013
It’s race week, and for the Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli regulars, the maiden event off shore for the Australian-based series can’t come soon enough.
The hype about series owner Tony Quinn’s new venue has been high, so too the expectation, but everyone that has so far seen the new Cromwell venue has commended the effort the Highland’s team has committed to the facility, whilst admitting almost without exception, that the photographs and videos do not do the facility justice.
The anticipation is high, with few certain of what to expect. A new venue, on which very few people have ever driven before - much less competed - awaits the 20 AGT entries, and with just two 40-minute races ahead of them to claim vital championship points, there is still plenty to play for.
To throw another degree of difficulty into the program, the Quinn family have adopted local knowledge for their team of cars. Points leader - and soon to be crowned back-to-back champion - Klark Quinn has employed the services of Craig Baird, the very man who defeated him in round two of the Championship on the streets of Adelaide. Baird is a Porsche specialist, the five-time Carrera Cup champion is the ideal man to drive alongside Quinn Jnr, whilst it was only fitting that New Zealand’s favourite son Greg Murphy would replace Baird in the Highlands McLaren MP4-12C.
Should Murphy win the AGT round, or in fact the season ending ‘Highlands 101’ it would be the stuff of legend.. Imagine, one of New Zealand’s most popular drivers, taking a marque developed by a New Zealand icon who conquered Formula One - that is celebrating it’s 50th year - on a track that is set for its maiden event..
Whilst it would be a perfect foundation from which to begin what already seems destined to be a bright future for the new motorsport venue, Murphy will have his work cut out, and the Holden Racing Team V8 Supercar part-timer will be keen to give his home fans something to scream about - especially after a dismal Bathurst and Gold Coast experience.
Throw in Fabian Coulthard in Tony Quinn’s exciting (and race winning) Aston Martin Vantage, recent V8 Supercar round winner (Gold Coast), Dean Canto in the Ferrari 458, former Bathurst winner John Bowe in an identical car, V8 Supercar ‘Development Series’ points leader Dale Wood in a 2013-spec Lamborghini Gallardo and a bloke with a bit of Formula One experience (he was a factory Ferrari driver at one stage of his career) - Ivan Capelli - and you have the perfect ingedients for excitement!!
Action gets underway with two practice sessions, qualifying and the opening 40-minute race on Friday, whilst Saturday heralds the final race of the championship season with the second 40-minute race scheduled for just after midday.
Then it all starts again on Sunday, with qualifying for the ‘invitational’ Highlands 101, followed by the excitement of a Le Mans style start at 1:25pm, and a gruelling 101-lap race (over three and a half hours) with a full field of 40 cars, including the bulk of the Australian GT Championship regulars alongside the leading South Island Endurance Series drivers.. It will be one of the record books, and not to be missed!
If you’re anywhere near the south island of New
Zealand this weekend, you’d be mad not to come and see one
of the most exciting fields in NZ motorsport’s history
battle against the best New Zealand has to offer on one of
the most exciting circuits in the southern hemisphere.
What’s not to like!?
WHO TO WATCH OUT FOR?
GT Championship (for
current specification GT3 cars)
With Craig Baird (alongside Klark Quinn), Fabian Coulthard (with Tony Quinn) and Greg Murphy (in the McLaren alongside Neil Crompton) in outright contention, picking a winner is going to be difficult. The emotional favourite has to be Murphy in the McLaren – two New Zealand icons together for the 50th anniversary of the marque at the opening event for Highlands.. it has a ring of fate about it.
Their race fitness is likely to be the key, whilst further down the order, series regulars John Bowe, Peter Edwards, Dean Koutsoumidis, Rod Salmon and Justin McMillan have their own private war to wage, with the final place on the championship podium up for grabs – that in itself will be an enthralling battle!
GT Trophy (for two
generation old GT3-spec cars)
Steve McLaughlan has all but wrapped up the title and with Greg Crick alongside will be tough to beat, but the big Viper has been a little fragile lately, and with Jinadasa’s Lamborghini all but returned to its original form over recent months, the fight for outright victory could be interesting. Don’t rule out a local challenge in the Highlands Mosler MT900 by Clark Proctor and Steve Ross either..!
Challenge (Challenge class cars -
There’s only 38 points in it, but Ben Foessel desperately wants that title after leading the points all season. Brendan Cook had a lousy run of luck at Phillip Island, but since then, he and former GT3 Cup Challenge champion Matt Kingsley have been the dominant team in the category, but with Porsche specialist (and opening round class winner) Michael Almond slated to join Foessel at Highlands, and Kinglsey withdrawing just days ahead of the round due to injury, it will be ‘game on!’.
Sports (GT4 category cars)
The mighty Ginetta G50s have waged their own private war all season, and whilst Michael Hovey took the early points lead, rival Mark Griffith has rebounded strongly, winning the last three rounds to be nine points clear of Hovey heading to NZ. Employing the services of Jack Perkins hasn’t hurt his title aspirations either, although adding the V8 Supercar part-timer to his driver lineup ensures that he carries a big pit stop parity penalty. The race between the two will be well worth watching, and if either fail, Tony Martin is sitting in the wings in a position to pick up the pieces..
Practice #1 - 9:30am (20-minutes)
Practice #2 - 11:35am (30-minutes)
Qualifying - 2:00pm (40-minutes)
Race #1 - 3:45pm (40-minutes)
Warm-up - 9:25am (20-minutes)
Race #2 - 12:20pm (40-minutes)
Highlands 101 (Qualifying) - 9:25am (40-minutes)
Highlands 101 (Race) - 1:25pm (101-laps)
AUSTRALIAN GT AND HIGHLANDS MOTORSPORT PARK
This is the maiden event for Tony Quinn’s Highlands Motorsport Park venue, so few drivers have had much chance to circulate the 4.80 kilometre circuit. Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli round two winner (Clipsal 500) Craig Baird however has turned laps at the venue’s official opening at Easter, setting the benchmark lap record at 1:41.90
WHERE TO WATCH..
Keep track of round six of the Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli via the AGT website - www.australiangt.com.au and via Facebook; AustralianGT
The final round of the Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli will be televised on New Zealand’s Channel 3, and aired in Australia at a later date (check local guides and AGT website and Facebook for confirmation).
Pre-purchase your entry tickets for the Highlands Motorsport Park ‘101’ event by visiting the venue online; www.highlands.co.nz
WHO’S ENTERED FOR ROUND SIX?
1. Klark Quinn/Craig Baird (VIP Petfoods Porsche GT3-R)
2. Andrew Taplin/Dean Canto (Taplin Real Estate Ferrari 458 Italia GT3)
6. Rod Salmon/Liam Talbot (Skwirk.com.au Audi R8 LMS ultra)
7. Tony Quinn/Fabian Coulthard (Darrell Lea Aston Martin Vantage GT3)
29. Jim Manolios/Ivan Capelli (Chevrolet Corvette Z06.R GT3)
31 Andrew Waite/Simon Evans (Highlands Park Aston Martin DBRS9)
48. Justin McMillan/Dale Wood (GB Galvanizing Lamborghini Gallardo LP600+)
51. Andrew McPherson/Ben Porter (IMAK Int. Porsche 997 Cup-S)
71. Dean Koutsoumidis/Andrew McInnes (Equity-One Audi R8 LMS GT3)
88. Peter Edwards/John Bowe (Il Bello Rosso Ferrari 458 Italia GT3)
101. Greg Murphy/Neil Crompton (Highlands Park McLaren MP4-12C)
GT CHALLENGE CLASS
3. Ben Foessel/Michael Almond (Motor School Porsche Type 996 GT3 Cup)
23. Indiran Padayachee/Aaron Zerefos (Porsche Type 997 GT3 Cup)
25. Brendan Cook (Walz Group Porsche Type 997 GT3 Cup)
GT TROPHY CLASS
75. Steve McLaughlan/Greg Crick (JAMEC PEM Racing Dodge Viper GT3)
77. Jan Jinadasa (JJA Consulting Group Lamborghini Gallardo LP520)
##. Clark Proctor/Steve Ross (Highlands Park Mosler MT900)
9. Tony Martin (TM Motorsports Ginetta G50 GT4)
19. Mark Griffith/Jack Perkins (Vawdrey Semi Trailers Ginetta G50 GT4)
73. Michael Hovey (HHH Racing Ginetta G50 GT4)
2013 Australian GT Championship
presented by Pirelli
Championship points (after five rounds of six)
1. Klark Quinn (540 points), 2. Tony Quinn (423), 3. Dean Koutsoumidis (276), 4. John Bowe (272), 5. Rod Salmon (262), 6. Greg Murphy (245), 6. Roger Lago (234), 7. Jack Le Brocq (220), 8. Justin McMillan (195), 9. Peter Edwards (190), 10. Andrew McInnes (154), 11. Liam Talbot (134), 12. Craig Baird (133), 13. Tim Macrow (122), 14. Jim Manolios (70), 15. Christian Klien (70), 16. Nathan Antunes (63), 17. Andrew Taplin (59), 18. Van Gisbergen/Kingsley (54), 19. Simonsen/Salo (50), 20. Steven Richards (46), 22. James Winslow (42), 23. Ivan Capelli (37), 24. Middleton/O’Young (30), 25. Ross Lilley (28), 26. Slade/Holdsworth/Hackett (26), 27. Mok Weng Sun/Griffin (25), 28. Lowndes/Luff (21), 29. Roloff/Schneider/Jaeger (19), 30. Russell/Kox (16)
1. Steven McLaughlan (265 points), 2. Jan Jinadasa (150), 3. Graham Lusty (134), 4. Jordan Ormsby (102), 5. Kevin Weeks (58)
1. Ben Foessel (488 points), 2. Brendan Cook (450), 3. George Foessel (391), 4. Matt Kingsley (346), 5. Michael Almond (110), 6. John Goodacre (91), 7. Modystach/Reid (87),
8. Keith/Kian Wong (61), 9. Brenton Griguol (39)
1. Mark Griffith (497 points), 2. Jack Perkins (490), 3. Michael Hovey (488), 4. Tony Martin (458), 5. Darren Berry (219), 6. Keith Kassulke (119), 7. Liam Talbot (100), 8. Darrell Dixon (77), 9. Lee Castle (71)
The 2013 Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli is proudly supported by Pirelli, Darrell Lea and Z Motorsport Memorabilia.
2013 Australian GT Championship
presented by Pirelli -
Rnd#1, 8-10 February - Bathurst 12-Hour, NSW
Rnd#2, 28 Feb - 3 March - Clipsal, Adelaide, SA
Rnd#3, 24-26 May - Phillip Island, Victoria
Rnd#4, 12-14 July - Sydney Motorsport Park, NSW
Rnd#5, 2-4 August - Queensland Raceway, Ipswich, QLD
Rnd#6, 8-10 November - Highland Motorsport Park, NZ
For more information on the 2013 Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli, please visit www.australiangt.com.au