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Feb 13, 2014 - 07:25 AM
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Mixed Weekend For Griffith At The Mountain
Posted by: newsla on Feb 13, 2014 - 07:20 AM
Sports Cars
Mixed Weekend For Griffith At The Mountain


After claiming the 2013 GT Sports crown in the Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli, Mark Griffith was looking to build on his championship year with a successful Bathurst 12-Hour campaign, but with the announcement that team-mate Jack Perkons would be driving full-time in the V8 Supercar Championship series this year, he was left with a dilemma.. who to replace him with.

 

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“Jack was keen to be a part of the team again this year, but his commitments with the FPR team meant he was away at a training camp with his team-mates, so I was left with a couple of vacant seats,” Griffith explained. “True to his commitment to the team though, Jack made a couple of calls and found me two blokes he felt might be ‘okay’.. V8 Supercar part-timers Dan Gaunt and Karl Reindler.. he reckons they might be alright [laughs].”

The team also welcomed another new addition, with Hog’s Breath Café joining the team for Bathurst, the nimble little Ginetta adorned with ‘Hoggy’ and Griffith couldn’t have been happier. “What a great sponsor.. they’ve been friends of the team for a number of years and we always make sure we eat at Hog’s Breath whenever we’re away at an event, so clearly we’ve made them enough profit with our cast of thousands to make it worth their while.. actually our association has been ongoing for some time, and they felt the 12-Hour was a great opportunity to join us as we both go looking for success.”

Sadly, despite running strongly in practice and qualifying and holding a 12 lap lead over their nearest Class C rivals during the race, the mighty Ginetta was forced into retirement on Conrod Straight after 181 laps, as a result of throwing a timing belt at the top of the mountain.

“It’s really disappointing, we’ve been leading for nine hours, we still are actually because we’re a long way up on the next car,” chuckled Mark Griffith, despite his disappointment. "But it's alright, that’s what happens in motor racing, the team have done a really good job all weekend - the car has been running faultlessly for nine hours, it’s just one of those things.”

Heading into the event, the team approached a weekend of unknowns; a new surface at the Mt Panorama circuit made for a slippery start to the weekend, with Griffith deciding to run old Pirellis from Highlands Motorsport Park as they re-learned the track.

Adding to the steep learning curve, former V8 Supercar driver Karl Reindler and V8SC Development Series stalwart Dan Gaunt were unfamiliar with the Ginetta G50. Reindler and Gaunt spent much of the practice sessions getting used to a car that has more grip, but not as much power as a V8 Supercar.

“Being a GT car the Ginetta is great to drive, but it could do with a bit more power,” a grinning Dan Gaunt said appraising the car. “It’s only got 240bhp but we are still coming close to doing 2:20’s - if we had far more horsepower it would just be a beast, it stops well, it turns well and it’s very forgiving.

“I turned up to Bathurst last night, and sat in the Ginetta for the first time roughly three minutes before I started the first session,” explained an impressed Karl Reindler. “Once I got out on track I felt comfortable straight away, and put down what I thought was a pretty respectable time, between the three of us and for the class as well.

“A V8 Supercar has a lot of mechanical grip, so when you are trying to put a lap together in a V8 around here, you’ve really got to hang it on the line over the top, whereas with a less powerful car it flows a lot better. It isn’t quite as physical in the Ginetta either, I am a lot more comfortable, you aren’t suffering the same longitudinal and latitudinal loads that you would in a V8.”

After a successful practice run that saw the Ginetta first in class across all sessions, Reindler was first to qualify the car, Griffith and Gaunt eventually cutting laps, all three managing to post faster times than the day before despite traffic woes and red flag periods.

“Qualifying was just a nightmare today,” Reindler admitted. “Getting a clear lap was really tough - it doesn’t matter what category you’re in or what your pace is like, it is incredibly frustrating.

“When I went out there I was on a good lap, up on my best yesterday, then the red flag came out, same thing happened again when I came out the next time, and then by that time the tyres were past their best - the car was definitely good for a mid 2:18 lap”

Reindler started the race for the Hog’s Breath Ginetta team, posting consistent laps and the fastest for their race, a 2:17.5316. Team strategy saw each driver needing to make one fuel pit stop for each stint, due to C Class regulations restricting the Ginetta’s fuel tank to 100 Litres.

Sticking to their strategy the Ginetta raced comfortably for eight hours with all drivers setting personal bests throughout their stints, which saw them well in front of class rival Tony Alford. Ultimately however, their good form ended when tragedy struck after the car’s timing belt was thrown because of debris on the circuit.

Reindler who had been driving at the time managed to get the car back into the pits for repairs, eventually getting back out. Unfortunately, the car had been running hot as a result and after getting back on track Reindler reported a harmonic shake in the engine before the car expired on lap 181 of the race.

“It’s hard to quantify the disappointment you feel, we’ve just been running so well all weekend,” said a dejected Reindler. “With all the drama, we were still setting a really good pace - Mark set his fastest time ever around Bathurst [by up to five seconds] which was really exciting for him.

“When the issue happened, we were roughly 12 laps up on our nearest competitor, so we were in a strong position, and it all it has taken is a stone to lunch the engine. You hate to say it, but that’s motor racing.”

In spite of the disappointing retirement, Dan Gaunt was still chuffed with his experience in the Ginetta.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed this weekend, the team are just a great bunch of guys - it’s disappointing, we were running 15th for a while there and now we’re heading home early.”

Mark Griffith was also rapt with his team, despite the unceremonious end to their race.

“Karl and Dan have just done an amazing job all weekend, they have managed to get the most out of this car throughout every session, I’m really pleased with everyone in the team.

“We’ll blame Rudolf (Reindler) for breaking the car (laughs). No honestly, they did a really good job all weekend, and we’ve had so much fun, so I am really looking forward to coming back next year!”

For the Griffith Corporation team, the focus now turns to the team’s title defence in GT Sports in the Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli which will kick off at Melbourne’s Sandown Park at the end of March [28-30].

2014 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour
Race [12-Hours] (Mount Panorama, Bathurst - 8 February)
01. 88. Edwards/Bowe/Lowndes/Salo (Ferrari 458 Italia - A) - 296-laps
02. 84. Primat/Jaeger/Buhk (Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 - A) - 296-laps
03. 63. Davison/Le Brocq/Crick (Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 - A) - 296-laps
04. 37. Quinn/Quinn/Kirkaldy/Van Gisbergen (McLaren MP4-12C/Pirelli - A) - 296-laps
05. 3. Frey/Rast/Vanthoor (Audi R8 LMS ultra - A) - 296-laps
06. 25. Patterson/Lux/Winkelhock (Audi R8 LMS ultra - A) - 294-laps
07. 1. Schneider/Engel/Bastian (Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 - A) - 291-laps
08. 4. Grove/Bamber/Barker (Porsche 997 GT3 Cup - B) - 286-laps
09. 12. Calvert-Jones/Davison/Long (Porsche 997 GT3 Cup - B) - 284-laps
10. 9. Cini/Eddy/Mies (MPC Audi R8 LMS ultra/Pirelli - A) - 278-laps
DNF. 17. Griffith/Gaunt/Reindler (Ginetta G50 GT4 - C) - 181-laps

Qualifying (Mount Panorama, Bathurst - 8 February)
01. 1. Schneider/Engel/Bastian (Erebus Motorsport SLS AMG GT3) - 2:03.8586
02. 88. Edwards/Bowe/Lowndes/Salo (Ferrari 458 Italia GT3) - 2:03.9421
03. 37. Quinn/Quinn/Kirkaldy/Van Gisbergen (McLaren MP4-12C/Pirelli) - 2:04.0006
04. 63. Davison/Le Brocq/Crick (Erebus Motorsport SLS AMG GT3) - 2:04.2563
05. 32. Kelly/Chiyo/Buncombe/Reip (Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3) - 2:04.8228
06. 23. Lago/Russell/Kox (Lamborghini Gallardo FLII GT3) - 2:05.0320
07. 9. Cini/Eddy/Mies (MPC Audi R8 LMS ultra/Pirelli) - 2:05.5919
08. 3. Frey/Rast/Vanthoor (Audi R8 LMS ultra) - 2:05.5946
09. 25. Patterson/Lux/Winkelhock (Audi R8 LMS ultra) - 2:05.7175
10. 48. McMillan/Richards/Wood/Lilley (Gallardo FLII GT3/Pirelli) - 2:06.3498
30. 17. Griffith/Gaunt/Reindler (Ginetta G50 GT4 - C) - 2:19.3055

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