The Century 21/Eastern Creek Karts/2UE Race Team's Garry Holt continued his good form across the weekend at Adelaide's Mallala Motorsport Park with a dominant performance under pressure that saw him take the round win and secure, for the second ...
The Century 21/Eastern Creek Karts/2UE Race Team's Garry Holt continued his good form across the weekend at Adelaide's Mallala Motorsport Park with a dominant performance under pressure that saw him take the round win and secure, for the second consecutive year, third place in the Australian GT-Performance Championship.
The Managing Director of Eastern Creek International Karting Raceway used the opening practice session to become acquainted with the circuit and arrive at a suitable setup. Making some minor changes to the car between sessions, Holt found himself three-tenths of a second clear of the field in the second practice session on Friday afternoon.
Further fine tuning overnight saw the Century 21/Eastern Creek Karts/2UE Mitsubishi EVO 8 become the only GT Performance competitor in the 1:14 bracket, after being eight tenths faster than his nearest rival in Practice three. In qualifying, Holt took pole by half a second.
The first race saw the Century 21/Eastern Creek Karts/2UE car walk away for a four second win over Beric Lynton's BMW M3. The win wasn't without its dramas though, Holt noticing a small problem developing with second gear. "We aren't sure what the problem is with the gearbox and with the tight time schedule we haven't got the time to do too much about it," said a perplexed Holt between races. "Second gear is fairly crucial around this tight circuit, I hope that it will hold together for race two, we are just going to have to go out there and hope for the best!"
Holt was intent on building as big an advantage as early as possible in the second race from the pole, should the gearbox problem intensify and afflict the progress of the EVO 8. His early laps produced stunning times, up to half a second per lap faster than any other competitor. Having established a significant lead over the Volkswagen of Tim Leahey, Holt was brought back to the field by the emergence of the Safety Car. "I knew I needed to establish as big a gap as possible on Tim, as after my win in the opening race, he would have a penalty weight advantage and I wasn't sure what effect the gearbox problem would have. I certainly wasn't happy when the Safety Car appeared in front of me!" When the Safety Car pulled off the circuit, the Century 21/Eastern Creek Karts/2UE Mitsubishi EVO 8 pulled out a commanding lead once more, one which would prove crucial, as some three laps from home, he was left without second gear. "It was definitely a battle over those last three laps, however we had enough up our sleeve to get home in front of Tim."
The ensuing two hours were frantic for the Century 21/Eastern Creek Karts/2UE Race Team, as the decision was made to replace the gearbox. The job that would normally take up to three hours to complete was done in two, Holt able, just, to make it to the grid for the final race, running out of time to re-attach the undertray to the car. "It was a pretty big decision to make, to be honest. It would always be a race against time to make it onto the track, but the crew put in a magnificent effort to get the car out there, I cannot speak highly enough of their efficiency."
The third race began similarly to the other two, Holt leading by a considerable margin, when nine laps in, Holt was confronted with a number of warning lights on the dash. "I was quite worried the engine might have been in the process of blowing again," said Holt, who had to finish in front of Ric Shaw to secure third in the Championship and finish better than twelfth in that final race to win the day. "I was fully aware of the situation that we were in points wise and knew there was no point pushing the limit, so I elected to back off and conserve. All I could think of was that we were going to blow another engine!" The Century 21/Eastern Creek Karts/2UE EVO 8 was able to hold on for fourth position in the race, which gave him the win on the day.
This guaranteed the Century 21/Eastern Creek Karts/2UE Race Team third position in the Australian GT Performance Championship, behind Subaru driver, Justin Hemmes and Volkswagen's Paul Stokell. "I'm very pleased that we have finished third in the Championship for the second year in succession. Considering there were a couple of rounds that we scored no points whatsoever and had numerous DNFs at crucial parts of the season, to finish third is an amazing result in itself, particularly given the level of competition. This year's GT Performance Championship would have to be the most hotly contested Championship that I have ever raced in, even harking back to my karting days. The standard of competition I don't think I've seen anywhere and I believe that this is the best racing going around in Australia at the moment. Full credit to Justin, he has put in a great effort all year and was there to take the points when we weren't. We seem to have everything sorted out now and we are looking to back up next year and take that third placing and turn it into a Championship win."
The Century 21/Eastern Creek Karts/2UE Race Team will now focus their efforts towards the East Coast Targa closed road tarmac rally, where the team has entered the Mitsubishi, which will be held in and around the communities of Sydney and Bathurst between October 27 and 30. Holt is aiming to take the Outright Competition Victory in the rejuvenated rally.
"In closing, I'd like to thank our sponsors for their magnificent support throughout the year, principally Century 21, Eastern Creek International Karting Raceway and 2UE, Mitsubishi, ELF Fuels and Lubricants, Jack Hillerman's Smash Repairs, J. McMillan Printing and Galfer Brakes."