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Jul 09, 2014 - 07:33 AM
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Australian GT; Solid Points And Pole For M-Motorsport At Townsville
Posted by: newsla on Jul 09, 2014 - 07:31 AM
Sports Cars
Australian GT; Solid Points And Pole For M-Motorsport At Townsville


The M-Motorsport team may have just narrowly missed the championship class podium during the third round of the Australian GT Championship on the streets of Townsville, but they bagged valuable series points, took pole position in qualifying, and packed away two straight Gallardo FL2s by the end of the weekend.

 

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After the frustrations of Sandown and Phillip Island, the main focus for the team across the three 40-minute compulsory pit stop [CPS] races, was to finish, gain valuable experience, and gain as many points as possible.

Having turned laps at the venue in the past in both V8 Supercars and Carrera Cup, Steve Richards went out in the opening practice session to establish a good benchmark for the Interlloy Lamborghini, before heading back to his Type 991 Porsche to contest the one-make Carrera Cup category, leaving the bulk of practice to car owner McMillan.

McMillan spent much of the two sessions coming to terms with the 13-turn, 2.85-kilometre layout, running on old rubber before a late change to new tyres to acclimatise himself ahead of qualifying.

“I got one quick lap in, and it was comfortable,” McMillan beamed afterwards. “I’m not trying to do anything dramatic, just creep up on it.. Richo and I spoke at length after the disappointment of Sandown and agreed that we wanted to finish every race, and that’s the plan this weekend.”

With ‘roaded’ Pirellis fitted to the gorgeous black and orange Interlloy Gallardo ahead of qualifying, Richards went out on a mission, and out-paced points leader Richard Muscat in the Mercedes, former V8 Supercar rival Tony D’Alberto in the Ferrari and reigning champion Klark Quinn in the McLaren to take pole position by four tenths of a second, in the process improving the 2011 qualifying record by almost two seconds.

“That was comfortable,” Richards admitted afterwards. “Nothing dramatic, just comfortable. I got held up a little, and probably could have gone at best half a second faster, but that will do. Now it’s down to three races, and three finishes..!”

Richards started the opening 40-minute race on Saturday morning, immediately grabbing the lead and driving away from the pack with points-leader Muscat in tow, all the way to the compulsory pit stop. McMillan rejoined in fourth place, and was immediately under attack from the Audis of Steve McLaughlan and John Magro.

Moving to the extreme outside of the track after leaving the pit exit, McMillan expected the two Audis to pass him under brakes for turn one, instead he was hit with an image he just wasn’t prepared for..

“I heard a god almighty bang, like I was in the middle of an accident, then saw two Audis fly across the circuit in front of me and hard into the outside wall,” he recounted. “I did everything I could to avoid them, and came to a stop in the end to make sure I didn’t clean up the trail of debris they left down the track.

“After that it was understandably a Safety Car period, so for the bulk of the race I wasn’t able to maintain the gap Richo had given me to the guys behind, so ultimately one of the Koundouris Porsches dive-bombed me late in the race, and I let him go.”

Fifth, and with no discernable damage, the Interlloy team celebrated their first race on the Townsville streets, a celebration which included Ross Lilley in the team’s 2013 car, which also came through unscathed with a ninth placed finish.

In the damp of Sunday morning, McMillan was back behind the wheel for race two, starting conservatively on the semi-damp circuit to hand Richards the car in seventh place, the reigning Bathurst 1000 champion crossing the line in fourth position after charging through to finish just behind the points leading Mercedes, in the process setting the second fastest lap of the race - just under the new race lap record he had set in the opening race.

After claiming the Carrera Cup round win just moments before, Richards was back in the Interlloy Lamborghini for race three, and immediately up to speed and applying pressure to the Mercedes and Ferrari in front of him off the start.

He entered the pits for his CPS in third place allowing McMillan to rejoin in third, the team boss hanging on to claim fifth at the flag after coming under fire from Tony Quinn and 2011 race winner Klark Quinn in the dying stages.

Ross Lilley made it home in 11th, to add to his sixth placed finish in race two, and like the #48 Interlloy entry, the #63 Koala Furniture Lamborghini was in pristine condition.

“I can’t be any happier with the weekend’s result,” McMillan admitted as he accepted the pole position trophy. “We were quick, we were consistent, and we finished every race strongly. This was my first time here and I got quicker with each session, and whilst we didn’t quite reach the podium, we’ve amassed some very good points, and along with Ross, have two straight cars to put back into the transporter for the trip home!”

The team now enjoys a seven week break before the fourth round of the championship at Sydney Motorsport Park on 22-24 August, again alongside the V8 Supercars with two 30-minute races, and one 60-minute race.

The third round of the Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli will be televised on Channel 7 in the coming weeks (time to be advised).


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