Massive crashes during round four of the Australian GT series

2015 Australian GT Championship | Sydney Motorsport Park

Article and Images by Rhys Vandersyde

Australian GT  | Weekend Wrap Up

The fourth round of the Australian GT championship took place at Sydney Motorsport Park over the weekend with close to perfect conditions for each of the hour long races.

Tony D’Alberto sat out this round of the championship while he awaited the impeding birth of his first child, this left Grant Denyer to take sole responsibility for the Maranello Motorsport’s Ferrari 458 GT3 for the weekend.

D’Alberto wasn’t the only driver to sit out the weekend after an accident during practice at Turn 7 which forced out the two Lamborghini’s of Daniel Stutterd and Jan Jinadasa.

Qualifying

Qualifying for the weekend was made up over two 20 minute sessions. Allowing both drivers (in two driver partnerships) to have a chance at banking a lap time to determine their place on the grid for Saturday’s first race.

Making the most of the excellent track conditions was Steve Owen in the 2011 spec Ford GT (No. 5 Supaloc Racing), which he shared with Kevin Weeks. The Ford GT set an impressive lap time of 1:27.7412 to claim pole. An incredible time considering he was almost half a second quicker than the current spec Audi R8 GT3’s that were only good enough for second and third places.

Lining up alongside Owen will be the No. 74 JAMEC PEM Racing of Christopher Mies and Ryan Miller. Nathan Antunes (No. 6 Skwirk/Beechwood Homes Audi R8 GT3) and Jono Lester (Trass Family Motorsport Ferrari 458 GT3) made up the second row of the grid.

Race 1

The first 60 minute race was marred by two massive crashes which left the majority of the race under safety car conditions. The first accident involving Andrew Jones in Maranello Motorsports Ferrari 458 GT3 saw the car fly off the end of the track and into the wall. The 458 GT3 impacted the tyre wall hard which resulted in the car being removed from the track and a considerable amount of time taken by course marshals to repair the tyre wall.

With only a few minutes left, the course was returned to racing conditions with a hustle to make up places that lead to another massive crash between the Erebus Motorsport Mercedes SLS AMG of Max Twigg and Geoff Emery and the pole sitting Ford GT GT3 of Kevin Weeks and Steve Owen on the final lap. Weeks in the Ford GT made heavy contact with the wall at turn 10, destroying the car and putting Weeks in hospital for a short stay with non-serious injuries.

Images by Rhys Vandersyde

Staying out of the drama behind, the JAMEC PEM Racing Audi R8 Ultra of Christopher Mies and Ryan Miller would take the chequered flag, winning the race and beating out the Skwirk/Beechwood Homes Audi of Nathan Antunes. Jono Lester steered home the Trass Family Motorsport Ferrari 458 GT3 that he shared with Graeme Smyth to third place.

Race 2

The second and final 60 minute race started under wet and tricky conditions which were especially difficult for the McLaren 650S’s in the field. Tony Quinn and Tony Walls would both suffer spins in the opening laps on the exit of Turn 3.

However their issues at Turn 3 would continue when Tony Quinn spun his Darrell Lea McLaren 650S GT3 again couple of laps later, only this time making heavy contact with the wall and ending his race.

Quinn’s accident would be outdone by Tony Walls by spinning in exactly the same part of the track and ending his race when a wheel was ripped from the Objective Racing McLaren 650 GT3.

Strategic use of the safety car to complete his compulsory pit stop elevated Grant Denyer in the Maranello Motorsport Ferrari 458 GT3 into the lead of the race, while the ‘Pro-rated’ drivers would struggle with their longer scheduled stop times.

Denyer would hang on to win the race ahead of the sole remaining Darrell Lea McLaren 650S GT3 of Klark Quinn. Nathan Antunes showed sensational pace to move from 16th to third in the closing laps to take the final spot on the podium.

Next Round

The Australian GT championship continues with its final Australian round at Sandown Raceway from 11th – 13th September before heading to New Zealand in November.

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For details on the Australian GT Championship, click > www.australiangt.com.au

For Foxtel coverage details, click > www.foxtel.com.au

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