Maro Engel takes to the Island full of confidence after establishing a new GT lap record in Macau.
The Erebus Motorsport V8 Supercar team enters this weekend’s Phillip Island 360 on a high after some good recent form from its trio of Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG’s and a fantastic performance from its GT operation at the Macau Grand Prix last weekend.
Maro Engel takes to the Island full of confidence after establishing a new GT lap record in Macau against a world class field and knowing that for the first time this year at a V8 Supercar event, he has racing experience at the circuit.
Aside from Engel, two crew members from the V8 Supercar operation were able to cross into the Erebus Motorsport GT team for Macau. Luke Mason - who engineers Slade’s car alongside Wes McDougall - engineered the AMG Customer Sports SLS AMG GT3 that Engel pushed to pole position, whilst the #2 technician on Engel’s #9, Chris Seidel, worked on the Gullwings with the regular Erebus GT technicians.
The confidence of Engel extends to the #4 IRWIN Tools E63 AMG of Lee Holdsworth. Although stepping back into sprint race mode, Holdsworth - with Craig Baird - was the best performed of the Erebus Motorsport squad in the enduros and he expects that to continue.
After finishing both races in the top 10 last year, including a fifth placing, Holdsworth is looking to build on his pair of top fives at Sandown and the Gold Coast respectively and chase down that elusive first podium for the Erebus Motorsport team.
Tim Slade will look back to last year’s first race, where he finished third as inspiration to end the final two events of 2013 on a strong note.
Slade has returned to Australia recently after a holiday in the US where he took in some NASCAR racing as well as some R&R after a hectic October.
The driver of the #47 Heavy Haulage Australia Racing E63 AMG had been the best performed of the Mercedes pilots all season, however some unexpected dramas during the course of the endurance races have seen him forced into a position of catch up as he heads towards his final race with the Erebus Motorsport team.
All V8 Supercar teams will be entering somewhat of an unknown when they arrive at the home of international motorcycle racing in Australia this weekend, with this being the first hitout for V8 Supercars on the re-surfaced Island course.
This weekend sees the return of the Saturday 60/60 format with Sunday featuring a pair of 100km races.
MARO ENGEL - #9 SP Tools Racing E63 AMG: “Phillip Island is a great circuit and racing there last year, I really enjoyed the fast flowing corners, I’m very curious to see how it will be in the V8 Supercar. With the new surface there, I think that we can turn some very quick lap times.
“I head to the Island after Macau, which was great - it was truly awesome. For me to see that my driving was obviously right up there - even though the results have been a bit difficult in V8 Supercars - I can be confident in my driving and Macau showed that. To set the pole position and lap record against such company in a high quality field is definitely a confidence boost.
“The previous record of SBR was very good at Phillip Island and last year, of course I ran very well winning the the Australian GT Championship round there, so my expectations are definitely that we can run in the top 10 - that has to be the aim, but let’s see if we can pull a surprise and take the SP Tools Racing #9 even higher.”
LEE HOLDSWORTH - #4 IRWIN Tools E63 AMG: “I reckon Phillip Island is a track that should suit our car, we seem to have pretty good aero with our IRWIN Tools E63 AMG and we’re really generating some good top end power. We’ve been tracking well of late through the enduros and I really hope that we can have another strong event this weekend.
“I am looking forward to feeling the grip level, a new surface creates massive levels of grip and maybe requires a different level of setup. Heat in the air can take away grip, but I’m looking forward to seeing how it affects our approach when we get there.”
TIM SLADE - #47 Heavy Haulage Australia Racing E63 AMG: “The first thing to bear in mind this weekend will be the weather, it is looking a bit unpredictable and I think it will play a big role in the outcome of the weekend.
“The cars should be good, it looks as though it might be cool and the Heavy Haulage Australia Racing E63 AMG likes the cooler weather.
“At the moment, I go in feeling fairly confident of where we can be. The enduros were difficult for us for various reasons - we were on for a top five at Sandown until the fuel filling problem, Bathurst was Bathurst and the Sunday on the Gold Coast was one of those days.
“I really hope we can go down to the Island and have a trouble free weekend. I can’t wait to get back in the car and get stuck into it again.”