Wednesday, 07 August 2013 00:00

More improvement for M-Motorsport in Queensland


For M-Motorsport’s Justin McMillan, the penultimate round of the Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli provided him another opportunity to tick boxes and continue fast-tracking his experience in the hotly contested national championship.

Having never previously competed at Queensland Raceway, nor in the dark, the Lamborghini pilot was eager to get the weekend under way.

“It’s all me this weekend, so I’ll complete the three races alone, and I’m looking forward to it. We’ve had a restructure in the team too, so we’re moving more towards a focused professional race team, and a bit more away from me and a couple of mates having a good time. That was okay in state series, but we’re running against some pretty serious players in this championship, so we’re upping the ante a bit.”

Fellow Gallardo driver Roger Lago set the early pace in his LP600, aided by an intensive test session at the venue in the lead-up to the AGT round, but McMillan breached the gap to the leaders across practice and qualifying to be classified seventh for the opening 40-minute race.

“There was some method in that too,” he grinned post-qualifying.

“By starting seventh I saved five seconds on my compulsory pit stop [CPS] time, and I’m quicker than the two Audi regulars in front of me, so across the three races, I should be able to get ahead of them.”

With former V8 Supercar regulars Greg Murphy and John Bowe at the front of the field splitting the Aston Martin Vantage of Tony Quinn and the Porsche GT3.R of reigning champion Klark Quinn, McMillan was always going to have his work cut out for him, but in such a quality field, he knew that it would only help his development as a driver.

Jumped off the start of race one by Formula 3 points leader Tim Macrow in the second of the Audis, McMillan settled into a strong opening rhythm, gaining a spot in the process as Liam Talbot spun at turn four in the other Audi.

By the time the CPS window opened, he was eighth, following Tony Quinn, Liam Talbot and John Bowe down pit lane. Courtesy of his qualifying strategy though he rejoined in sixth place, having displaced first Koutsoumidis in the pits, and then Rod Salmon on track immediately afterwards. From there it was just a matter of consistency as he worked his way across the line to be classified P6.

“That was pretty good in the end,” he grinned afterwards. “I was pretty nervous off the start, especially in that company, so I dropped back a little to get into a rhythm and then just concentrated on getting my lines right, and I was getting quicker with every lap. Now it’s into the darkness, and that will be really interesting..!”

Off row three for the start of race two in the intense darkness of a Queensland winter, McMillan jumped into fifth place off the rolling start, immediately behind John Bowe. Locked in under the rear wing of the Ferrari, he was looking good until a spin on the second lap at turn four. “I got to my braking point, turned in and looked down, and it was nothing but dirt,” he laughed. “In the darkness I just missed my turn in point, so around we went.”

Recovering at the rear of the field, he charged through the pack to be tenth by the time the pit stop window opened, taking the added advantage of a safety car for Steve McLaughlan’s stricken Dodge Viper to close in on the cars ahead of him ahead of the restart.

Once the green waved, McMillan charged once more, working his way through to be the lead car a lap down, and sixth overall at the flag.

“That was hard work,” he admitted post-race. “Hard work, but a hell of a lot of fun. Without the spin we may well have been a contender for a podium after Bowey crashed out in the pits and the Audi’s came together, but regardless, our pace was good and it’s all about learning this year.”

 Another third row start for the final race saw the GB Galvanizing Gallardo under fire once more from Tim Macrow, who forced his way forward on the opening lap. McMillan dropped in behind and the duo circulated together until the CPS.

Emerging right behind points leader Klark Quinn, McMillan put in some of his best sectors of the weekend to close in on the Audi of Rod Salmon in the closing laps.

Salmon could see him coming and was pushing as hard as he could to maintain the gap, but two corners from home, the #48 Gallardo was within striking distance, and McMillan braked as late as he dared into the left hander to take the inside line and the position.

Unfortunately though the two drivers making contact mid corner, with both spinning as a result. As they gathered it up again, they made contact a second time, with both cars suffering extensive cosmetic damage.

McMillan managed to bring the car home, with smoke pouring from the rear tyres where the bodywork was rubbing, stopping just after the line having recorded his third consecutive sixth place finish.

“I had to go for it, and the opening was there,” he lamented afterwards. “They think it was my fault, but the officials don’t see it that way.. For me it was a racing incident; I wanted the corner, he didn’t want to give it to me, and there was contact. The worst part is the bulk of the damage came after we’d stopped. I was trying to restart and I copped a hit in the bum.

“We’ll take it away and fix it, and then we’ll get it into a container and try and get it across to Highlands for some testing prior to the final round in November.”

The final round of the Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli is scheduled for the new Highlands Motorsport Park circuit in New Zealand November 8-10.

2013 Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli
Qualifying
[3 August] Queensland Raceway, Ipswich
01. 23. Roger Lago - Lamborghini Gallardo LP560 GT3 [CHAMP] - 1:08.4726
02. 7. Tony Quinn - Aston Martin Vantage GT3 [CHAMP] - 1:08.6870
03. 1. Klark Quinn - Porsche GT3-R [CHAMP] - 1:08.8606
04. 88. John Bowe - Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 [CHAMP] - 1:09.1791
05. 29. Greg Murphy - Chevrolet Corvette Z06.R GT3 [CHAMP] - 1:09.8530
06. 6. Liam Talbot - Audi R8 LMS GT3 ultra [CHAMP] - 1:09.9612
07. 48. Justin McMillan - Gallardo LP600+ GT3 [CHAMP] - 1:10.3284

Race#1 - 40-minutes [3 August] Queensland Raceway, Ipswich
01. 7. Tony Quinn - Aston Martin Vantage GT3 [CHAMP] - 31-laps
02. 1. Klark Quinn - Porsche GT3-R [CHAMP]
03. 88. John Bowe - Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 [CHAMP]
04. 29. Greg Murphy - Chevrolet Corvette Z06.R GT3 [CHAMP]
05. 23. Roger Lago - Lamborghini Gallardo LP560 GT3 [CHAMP]
06. 48. Justin McMillan - Gallardo LP600+ GT3 [CHAMP]

Race#2 - 40-minutes [3 August] Queensland Raceway, Ipswich
01. 1. Klark Quinn - Porsche GT3-R [CHAMP] - 28-laps
02. 29. Greg Murphy - Chevrolet Corvette Z06.R GT3 [CHAMP]
03. 7. Tony Quinn - Aston Martin Vantage GT3 [CHAMP]
04. 6. Rod Salmon/Liam Talbot - Audi R8 LMS GT3 ultra [CHAMP]
05. 25. Brendan Cook/Matt Kingsley - Porsche GT3 Cup [CHALLENGE]
06. 48. Justin McMillan - Gallardo LP600+ GT3 [CHAMP] - 27-laps

Race#3 - 40-minutes [4 August] Queensland Raceway, Ipswich
01. 1. Klark Quinn - Porsche GT3-R [CHAMP] - 33-laps
02. 29. Greg Murphy - Chevrolet Corvette Z06.R GT3 [CHAMP]
03. 7. Tony Quinn - Aston Martin Vantage GT3 [CHAMP]
04. 71. Dean Koutsoumidis/Tim Macrow - Audi R8 LMS GT3 [CHAMP]
05. 6. Rod Salmon/Liam Talbot - Audi R8 LMS GT3 ultra [CHAMP]
06. 48. Justin McMillan - Gallardo FLII GT3 [CHAMP]

Keep track of the Australian GT  Championship presented by Pirelli via the AGT website - www.australiangt.com.au and via Facebook; AustralianGT

The fifth round of the Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli will be televised on SBS Speedweek on Sunday, September 1 from 2:00pm AEST (check local guides for confirmation).

------------------------------------------------------ 2013 Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli
Championship points
(after five rounds of six)

GT Championship
1. Klark Quinn (540 points), 2. Tony Quinn (423), 3. Dean Koutsoumidis (276), 4. John Bowe (272), 5. Rod Salmon (262), 6. Greg Murphy (245), 6. Roger Lago (234), 7. Jack Le Brocq (220), 8. Justin McMillan (195), 9. Peter Edwards (190), 10. Andrew McInnes (154).

M Motorsport is proudly supported by GB Galvanizing, Strategy One Human Resources, Australian Post Tensioning, Interlloy Engineering Steels and Alloys and FUCHS Lubricants.

Keep track of the Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli via the AGT website - www.australiangt.com.au and via Facebook; AustralianGT

The penultimate round of the Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli will be televised on SBS Speedweek on Sunday, September 1 from 2:00pm AEST (check local guides for confirmation).

www.facebook.com/MMotorsportGT3

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