GAME ON FOR McLENNAN Upper Hutt Porsche GT3 racer Simon McLennan made an impressive start to his quest for championship honours in his class of this years Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge at Pukekohe Park Raceway this weekend. McLennan was in superb...
GAME ON FOR McLENNAN
Upper Hutt Porsche GT3 racer Simon McLennan made an impressive start to his quest for championship honours in his class of this years Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge at Pukekohe Park Raceway this weekend.
McLennan was in superb form at Pukekohe, winning two of the three races in his New World Metro On Willis Porsche GT3 996. The victories were hard fought but an unfortunate DNF (non -finish) in one of the races has cost the twenty-three year old the opportunity to take the series lead into the second round in three weeks time.
The intense competition began in practice where McLennan and his chief rival in the class, Simon Evans of Auckland, each took a turn at the top of the timesheets in the two sessions.
Qualifying was equally competitive as McLennan looked to have pipped his fellow competitor for the fastest time in class only to be edged out at the last gasp. "I crossed the line and the team told me I had pole by 3/100ths of a second. I was still on my slowdown lap when they radioed again to say that Simon (Evans) had just crossed the line and he now had pole by 3/100ths of a second. That set the tone for the weekend. Simon has stepped it up since last year and is giving it a real crack."
The opening race of the weekend, on Saturday afternoon, was a longer endurance race - a form of competition that McLennan really enjoys. It was all on from the start. McLennan made a great start to the race in the New World Metro On Willis Porsche but he was under pressure all the way to the compulsory pit stop. The Motorsport Services team made no mistakes with their stop while the pitstop for Evans was a little slower. After that McLennan had a slight gap. "It was nice to sit back and be comfortable without that pressure," said Simon.
The race went very much to plan after that and at the conclusion of 35 laps of the 2.8 kilometre Pukekohe track McLennan crossed the line in the lead of the class by over 8 seconds.
The battle continued the following morning and this time it was Evans who led after squeezing by on the opening lap. However the race came to a premature end for McLennan. "Evans definitely had pace. Second place was looking good for me when on the ninth lap a bolt failed and sheared off the drivetrain. It happened as I came over Ford Mountain in fourth gear. There was a bang and no drive to the rear wheels. Really if it had to happen I would have preferred it at any other part of the track. I actually thought it was a gearbox or similar. I could see the dollar signs." However Simon stopped the car safely although another good points haul had evaporated.
McLennan was back on track for the third race to put in a stunning drive. "After doing some endurance racing in the off season with Craig Innnes I am the most comfortable I have ever felt in the car and after the non - finish in the previous race I was 100% driven to win. I got a really, really good start and a good run out of Castrol onto the back straight and got Simon at the hairpin."
Sixteen laps later McLennan took the chequered flag, still in the lead, to open his championship account with two wins from three starts. "The DNF in the second race was the only sticking point. Coming away with a points deficit because of that is disappointing but it is only round one."
It was a good start to the season as Simon chases the championship that just eluded him last year on debut in the class. Ironically McLennan led the point standings into the final round last season only to suffer a non finish on that occasion also.
The next round of the championship takes place at Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Ruapuna in Christchurch from 26-28 November.
Simon McLennan's campaign in the 2010/2011 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Championship is supported by New World Metro On Willis, Auto Despatch, Ice Tech New Zealand, Orrsum Laser Services, Kinetic 121, Powder Coating Services, Teng Tools, GearWrench, Mothers and Glu Clothing.
M2 Motorsport also acknowledge Motorsport Services for their work in preparing the New World Metro On Willis Porsche.
-source: m2 motorsport