A Weekend with the Australian GT


By Sam Tickell

If you think this is bad, you should see the other guy!
Courtesy of FeedMeSportsCars

Friday - Practice

Day one at Queensland Raceway ended in a not so nice fashion with two very bent cars. The Ferrari of Kevin Miller spun at turn four leaving Ian Palmer no where to go but directly into the Ferrari. Fortunately there were no apparent injuries to either driver but their weekend was over.

The day did not start in this same glum shock.

At the start of the day, there was a buzz around the paddock. Local papers and TV journalists were trying their best to get a shot of the increasingly exciting Australian GT Championship.

First off the rank was the new Aston Martin DBRS9. Also new this weekend was the Lotus Exige GT3.

Combine these with the two Lamborghini’s, the Porsche’s and a Ferrari or four the grid starts to have a distinctly positive feel to it.

Not only that but the driver lineup is increasing on quality. Le Mans Series GT2 leader, Allan Simonsen is back with Bryce Washington and John Kaias.

But the star quality of these drivers and machines wasn’t seen in the paddock or in interviews but was seen on the famous ‘paperclip’ at Queensland Raceway.

Day one saw no times recorded for the Australian GT, which makes the late day accident ever crueler.

The other guy...
Courtesy of FeedMeSportsCars

Saturday - Practice

Day two arrived minus two of the drawcard competitors. But the series has the depth of quality that can only be dreamed of for most series in a transition phase (Australian GT will be going to FIA GT specs in a couple of seasons).

The top drivers were still pushing. Current leader of the Le Mans Series GT2 standings, Allan Simonsen was obviously pushing, using more of the road than the rest of the competitors.

In a way, he is carrying the car. His Ferrari 360 is relatively old compared to his direct counterparts and has performance restrictions, yet he is still at the pointy end of the field.

Given the expensive antics from the day before, it could be understandable that the drivers were backing off.

They were, at least, until qualifying.

Allan Simonson again carried his car to a good result
Courtesy of FeedMeSportsCars

Saturday – Qualifying

The exotic machines were out for the early glory at that stage.

The competition was tight and the times were fast. The pole position time was faster than the lap record Australia’s premier series – the V8 Supercars.

The Australian GT’s have also bought much needed competition to top line Australian motorsport as the first five spots on the grid are held by five different manufacturers. A Lamborghini, Porsche, Ferrari, Aston Martin and Lotus in the first five spots.

But as day two draws to a close, it is not just the on track entertainment that is obvious. It is also the professionalism of the teams and the series itself.

The teams and cars are well presented with the series displaying hospitality that is usually not reserved for a meet such as this.

And they are a positive series. Even with two of the drawcard cars out of the event, there is still and air of optimism going into race day.

Sunday – Race 1

Day three and race day for the Australian GT Championship.

The crowds at the track had thickened. Sure they were still thin but the crowd there seemed to be centered on the Australian GT paddock.

But this mattered little to the drivers once they got to the grid. After a stellar qualifying performance from Washington in his Lamborghini he had to be the favourite for the race.

And as the race went green, he demonstrated he was the favourite for a reason. He pulled an immediate five car length lead.

There was an early scare for Simonsen who slowed on the back straight. Coming into the braking zone, the problem seemed to fix itself.

He had lost a position to the Aston Martin but soon recovered it to chase down the Porsche of Wall.

He closed up, helped by a couple of safety car periods during the event but it seemed like a lost cause.

That is until the first corner of the final lap. The pressure Simonsen had exerted had paid dividends. Wall locked a brake and ran wide releasing Simonsen into second and to better protect his championship lead.

Race one ended with Washington winning from Simonsen, Wall and Kaias. Importantly no cars were bent but some time has to be found in the pits if anyone has a chance against Washington in race two.

The Aston Martin was a welcome edition to the Championship
Courtesy of FeedMeSportsCars

Sunday – Race 2

Race two came and the Lamborghini still held the advantage.

Washington was able to hold his lead throughout the race. However, the competition was closer.

Without a safety car period in race two, the true pace of the cars was on show.

And it showed that Washington’s Lamborghini and Wall’s Porsche were equal. The battle was tight but once again Washington was able to make it past the checker first.

Simonsen lost his second place early in the race when Wall passed on the inside. He was then in an intense battle with the Kaias, Aston but the Dane was able to hold him off to keep himself in third.

Race three, the final race of the weekend will be important for Simonsen to keep his championship lead from a charging Washington.

Sunday – Race 3

Simonsen’s wish was never to be. Although the Dane finished the race, a gearbox problem robbed him of competition up front.

Simonsen struggled round the majority of the race in a single gear but amazingly held onto forth place.

Third in race three went to the Aston Martin, not bad on its first weekend in the series. This car is sure to add something special to the series at it develops.

Wall again finished second in his Porsche but was unable to get near to the Lamborghini of Washington.

Washington was unstoppable all weekend as it was clear that the Gallardo was the car to have this weekend.

One wonders how Sunday would have transpired if the Palmer Lamborghini had made it past Friday afternoon.

So the weekend is over. Washington wins with Hall and Simonsen taking the other steps of the podium.

As a strange side note however, the podium was cancelled as the weekend schedule was behind and the drivers were unable to attend. A shame but something you can live with.

The series now breaks until August. Not a bad thing considering the damage incurred this weekend.

But come August, the racing will be great.