Australian GT: Reigning champion Quinn comes up trumps in race one

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The second 40-minute race gets underway at 8:00am on Sunday (July 6) with the third and final 40-minute race set for 2:10pm, both again featuring the compulsory pit stop mid-race.

Reigning Australian GT champion Klark Quinn has claimed his first win of the 2014 season, leading series points leader Richard Muscat and Phillip Island race winner Tony Quinn across the line for the first of the 40-minute races at Townsville.

Pole-sitter Steve Richards (Interlloy Gallardo FL2 GT3) controlled the rolling start of the opening 40-minute race, and despite dropping behind fellow front-row starter Klark Quinn (Darrell Lea McLaren MP4-12C) on the run into turn one, Richards led the field through the opening corner and all the way to the compulsory pit stop [CPS].

Behind him the first contact of the event came in the battle for position mid-field as Brendan Cook (Walz Group Porsche), Ben Foessel (Motor School Porsche) and Dale Paterson (DPM Motorsport Mosler) made contact on the run into turn one, Paterson forced into retirement as a result of the contact which saw him suffer a tyre failure on the right rear and contact with the wall on the left front.

Foessel too suffered damage as a result, forcing the Phillip Island Challenge class winner into the pits to repair the left-rear tyre. There was much discussion post-race about who, where and what, but at the end of the day officials judged the contact to be a racing incident, and whilst the two Porsches were able to continue, Paterson was faced with a lengthy repair ahead of the remaining two races.

“I’m so disappointed,” he shrugged post-race. “This is the best the car has ever been. It’s always a risk starting mid-pack, but the car was handling brilliantly, I got a great start and passed a couple of cars, and then got wiped out by a Porsche. The contact forced me into the wall, but whilst it was a fair hit, we’ll do our best to fix the car for race two.”

From the second row, Muscat was quickly through on John Bowe and Klark Quinn for second, the points leader locking onto the tail of Richards, the two leaders trading times, with both of them well below the standing race lap record of Kevin Weeks set in 2011. Richards was the first to set a new benchmark with a best of 1:13.1378, with Muscat following suit a lap later, the Erebus driver though falling just 14 one thousandths shy of being the new lap record holder.

Behind the leaders Klark Quinn was holding station in third with Bowe fourth, but the Ferrari driver was quickly into the pits with a deflating left rear tyre. “I could feel something wasn’t right and glanced at the tyre pressures on the display and it said 7.5psi, so I knew I had a puncture, so that was it,” Bowe admitted.

His disappointment was compounded by a drive-through penalty for crossing the blend-line on the exit of pit-lane.. “That REALLY made my day..!”

With the leaders off into the distance and the Ferrari all but out of the equation, the focus shifted to the battle for the Trophy class points lead where Rod Salmon made a strong start to hold position inside the top six, with John Magro (Audi R8), Dean Koutsoumidis (Equity-One Audi) and Dan Gaunt (JJA Consulting Lamborghini) battling for position inside the top ten.

As the pit stop window opened, Jinadasa was the first to pit, the former Challenge class champion suffering a mystery suspension issue, which dramatically impacted the cars pace. The following lap Muscat dived into the pits to give himself an opportunity to rejoin ahead of McMillan once the Interlloy Lamborghini had stopped, the two teams separated by a four second margin during the stop thanks to their accrued pit stop qualifying and driver grading penalties.

The following lap that very nearly became a moot point as Steve McLaughlan spun out of podium contention on the exit of the final turn, coming to a stop tail into the wall on pit entry. It took the Trophy class front runner a short period to re-start the car, and he hit the pits shortly thereafter for his CPS with some minor damage to the rear wing.

By the 20-minute mark of the race, Richards hit the pits, handing over to McMillan, who was straight into the action on pit exit..

Rejoining the field on the run down to turn one, McMillan moved across to allow the battle between Audi team-mates McLaughlan and John Magro to continue into turn one.

With the Lamborghini to the extreme outside of the circuit, McLaughlan dived down the inside, McMillan giving him plenty of room. Magro appeared to have been caught out as McLaughlan hit his braking marker, the former F3 regular hitting the brakes hard to avoid McLaughlan, in the end electing to dive down the middle of the two cars in front of him to avoid hitting his team-mate.

Sadly the move also sent him partly sideways, and he clipped McLaughlan as a result, sending them both across in front of the Lamborghini, and hard into the outside wall.

McMillan somehow thread the needle and missed all but the carbon-fibre bodywork which broke off the two Audis, and continued.

Sadly for some of the teams that had made their compulsory stop, many would lose that advantage as the Safety Car was called onto the circuit as officials began clearing the debris. Medical staff also attended to McLaughlan who admitted some lower back pain, yet despite a compulsory visit to the medical centre, he was released shortly afterwards with no residual issues apart from discomfort.

Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for the JAMEC-PEM Audi, which like its stablemate, was withdrawn from the round due to excessive front-end damage.

“Steve just caught me out,” Magro admitted. “I didn’t expect him to brake where he did, and I was just trying to avoid hitting him, but as I braked and went for the gap, the car stepped out and I was a passenger..!”

“I didn’t know what had hit me,” McLaughlan explained. “Justin [McMillan] had moved to the left to give us room, I went to the right, and then boom I was heading into the fence. My Audi has the safety cell seat, so I was well protected, but it was a hard knock in my lower back. It’s just bruising, so I’ll be okay, but unfortunately it will be a big rebuild for the car.”

After the dust had settled and the safety car withdrew from the circuit, the two Quinn cars emerged as the front runners, Klark now leading from Tony, with seven cars separating the race leader from the Muscat Mercedes.

With two laps to go after the restart, Klark Quinn drove away from the field as the pack was held up coming to the line by the ailing Jinadasa Lamborghini who had been second in line. Once clear Muscat charged and was quickly onto Tony Quinn’s tail, the points leader ultimately making his way through to second and a big points advantage over John Bowe, whilst Tony Quinn held on for third.

Fourth was James Koundouris in the ex-Klark Quinn Porsche, the former Carrera Cup regular admitting that he was becoming more comfortable with his ‘new’ mount, but still not 100% happy.

“We’ve sorted the front of the car, but it has a bit much oversteer at present, but I’m happy with my pace. It was also nice to do this event on my own and not rely so much on Steve [Owen]. He’s away testing ahead of the Spa 24 Hour race, so I thought I’d go it alone. I was close to Tony [Quinn] at the end and thought about an attack, but we have two races left and a little more work to do, but we’re getting there!”

Justin McMillan held on for fifth, admitting that he was happy to let Koundouris through and gain points and experience.

“That was a good race for us. Steve drove brilliantly again despite a bit of a brake issue, and put us in a great position. I almost got caught up in the Audi crash.. I could hear it all happening behind me and wondered what the hell had happened, but we survived it. We’re improving every time, and with two races to go, we‘re on for a good points haul.”

Sixth was Nathan Antunes in the first of the Trophy class cars - the Skwirk.com.au Audi of points leader Rod Salmon - with Ginetta graduate Michael Hovey a solid seventh in the Triffid/HHH Racing Porsche 997 Cup Car.

“I just kept my nose clean and the race came to me,” Hovey admitted. “We had a relatively minor CPS time penalty, and I just used that and the Safety Car to my advantage.. it’s nice to be second in Trophy class, I hope I can keep that momentum going across the rest of the weekend.”

Phillip Island Trophy class round winner Theo Koundouris came home eighth in his Porsche Cup S ahead of Ross Lilley in the Koala Furniture Lamborghini, the Victorian making his return to Australian GT competition in the car campaigned in 2013 by Richards and McMillan.

Tenth was Dean Koutsoumidis and recent Le Mans 24 Hour star James Winslow in the Equity One Audi R8, the Sandown Trophy class round winners were strong early but sadly were one of the teams caught out by the Safety Car during their CPS.

“We were looking pretty good till then,” Koutsoumidis shrugged. “That’s the way it goes sometimes. At least the car is quick and straight, and we get another two chances to get back some points tomorrow.”

GT Championship

1. 1. Klark Quinn (Darrel Lea McLaren MP4-12C), 2. 36. Richard Muscat (Erebus Motorsport SLS AMG GT3), 3. Tony Quinn (VIP Petfoods Aston Martin Vantage GT3

“That wasn’t a bad result in the end. I had a ‘long’ brake pedal early which wasn’t ideal, but it wasn’t a huge issue. We’d planned to pit the lap the Safety Car came out anyway, and that worked to our advantage for a change, but the car was strong, so I’m pretty happy. There’s more improvement to come from me, but we have two more races to go, so there’s still some work to do!” - Klark Quinn (1st)

GT Trophy

1. 6. Rod Salmon/Nathan Antunes (GTT - Audi R8 LMS GT3), 2. Michael Hovey (GTT - Porsche 997 Cup Car), 3. 69. Theo Koundouris (GTT - Porsche 997 Cup-S - “I’m pretty happy with that. I had a good start and was able to hold the class lead until Magro took me on lap eight, but then he came into contact with Steve [McLaughlan] and I got caught up in the debris. It felt like I’d suffered a tyre deflation so I came into the pit earlier than I’d hoped.. we were second by then, and I stopped earlier than I’d have liked, but it worked out pretty well in the end.” - Rod Salmon (1st)

GT Challenge

1. 25. Brendan Cook/Matt Kingsley (GTC - Porsche GT3 Cup), 2. 3. Ben Foessel/Michael Almond (GTC - Porsche GT3 Cup)

“That was an interesting day’s work. Brendan [Cook] was caught up at the start with Foessel and Paterson, but managed to make it through. It’s always tough mid-pack, especially on a tight circuit like this, but we got some more valuable championship points which is what’s important.” - Matt Kingsley (1st)

GT Sports

1. 54. Tony Alford (GTS - Lotus Exige Cup R), 2. Hayden Cooper (GTS - Ginetta G50 GT4), 3. 19. Mark Griffith (GTS - Ginetta G50 GT4)

The second 40-minute race gets underway at 8:00am on Sunday (July 6) with the third and final 40-minute race set for 2:10pm, both again featuring the compulsory pit stop mid-race.

Australian GT

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Series GT
Article type Race report
Tags australian gt, gt, klark quinn, richard muscat, tony quinn

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