The #75 Jamec Pem Audi of Tim Miles and Jaxon Evans has won the first round of the Australian Endurance Championship at Phillip Island. The pairing produced a flawless race in treacherous, soggy conditions to come through and take the series points lead.
There were multiple lead changes throughout the race as the un-predictable nature of the weather played an important role in tossing up the race. The duo from Melbourne Performance Centre performed as the underdog for a lot of the weekend, but Miles and Evans eradicated that label with a stellar drive from both.
“Jaxon did such a good job in qualifying, and I did okay, so we had a good qualifying position”. Said Miles
“Then, by the time I pitted, we were still sort of in the lead group,” he added. “Jaxon just had the pace to come through to the front and keep us there.” Miles stated.
Crossing the line 10 seconds later was the pole sitting car from Eggleston Motorsport. Peter Hackett and Dom Storey fought back from the early pit lane shenanigans. The #63 Mercedes-AMG GT3 was leading at the time when a rain shower fell on the Phillip Island circuit. All 19 cars came into the pits at the same time to change over to the wet compound, causing an absolute traffic jam. Many of the teams had to double stack, and the Hackett/Storey car got caught up right in the thick of the chaos. They ended up losing a lap. The pair charged back through the field claiming a strong second place finish.
“The strategy for us played out really well, the whole field did a good job” Hackett said. “The number of safety cars was quite minimal” He goes on. “I really felt sorry for the marshals at one stage, standing in the cold rain waving the flags. It was cold and miserable in the car and I can’t imagine what it was like for them”
Cinching the final podium position was Fraser Ross and Warren Luff. Their McLaren 650s GT3 suffered from a number of cooling problems throughout the weekend as well as a boost issue on Saturday. But the boys from Mclrea Racing worked long into the night to resolve the problems, producing a fantastic car for the 500km race. To assist the team, McLaren flew out one of their best technicians/engineer James Dornor. JD as he’s know as was there till late on Saturday night working on the car and pouring over the data trying to find the gremlin that was causing them havoc, it seems his hard work has paid dividends with a brilliant third place for the crew.
Behind the McLaren was the second of the Audi’s. The #74 Valvoline car piloted by Garth Tander and Geoff Emery. The #74 car seemed to be strong during the race, but strategy and safety car periods were just never on their side. Emery produced a very clean first stint, and after Tander passed Mark Griffith in the closing stages he brought the car home in fourth position picking up some decent points for the Jamec Pem squad.
Finishing in fifth position was the #19 Hogs Breath Mercedes of Mark Griffith and Jake Camilleri. After a disappointing qualifying, Griffith started the AMG from 12th position. The duo made the most of the dismal weather conditions taking advantage of others misfortunes. Whether that be on track or in the pit-lane. They pulled through and grabbed a solid points paying fifth.
Rounding out the top ten was the Mega Racing Porsche of Liam Talbot and John Martin in sixth, seventh, the Peter Edwards/Graham Smyth driven Maranello Ferrari. Coming across the line eighth was Zagame Autosports with their brand new Lamborghini Hurucan GT3, Adrian Dietz and Cameron McConville behind the wheel of that car. In ninth was another Lamborghini, the Roger Lago/David Russell RE-X from Lago Racing. And in tenth, Max Twigg and Tony D’Alberto in the #8 Waste Management Mercedes.
Australian GT heads to Winton for the second round of the Trophy Series, meanwhile the Endurance Championship’s next race is at Sydney Motorsport Park in mid-August.
All photos are copyrighted by Dirk Klynsmith Photography, Mike Fortescue and Australian GT.