Tuesday, 10 February 2015 00:00

Bathurst podium run thwarted by mechanical failure for M-Motorsport

“We were right where we wanted to be..” three-time Bathurst 1000 champion Steven Richards lamented after retiring the #48 Interlloy/Lamborghini Gallardo FL2 GT3 from the 2015 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour whilst well within reach of the leaders.

“All our strategy had come into play, we were on the lead lap, and whilst we might have had a tough time battling the Nissan and the German Audi for a race win, we would have been in the mix, but sadly a gearbox failure after five hours put paid to that plan..”

It was a tough end to what had been a memorable weekend for the Interlloy supported team, where team boss Justin McMillan and Richards were joined by former 12-Hour podium place-getter Craig Baird.

A proven package in Australian GT, the M-Motorsport Lamborghini was always expected to be one of the challengers, Richards and Baird proving through practice that they were ones to keep a close eye on.

McMillan too kept improving to the point where his best lap for the weekend was less than a second off Steven Richards’ qualifying time for the Bathurst 12-Hour in 2013.. “Who’d have thought,” McMillan beamed post-event.

By the close of qualifying, the Interlloy Lamborghini was classified in 11th place, Richards’ best lap a 2:04.5976, a full second and a half faster than they’d been in 2014.

“We didn’t get too caught up in the soft tyre battle like some of the leaders,” Richards explained post-session. “The soft Michelin was good for another second or so, but our focus is on the race and having the right tyre under us as the day warms up.”

As he had done in 2014, Richards started the race and quickly started to move forward before the first Safety Car was called on lap seven, the reigning Carrera Cup champ diving to the pits to install McMillan for the early part of the race.

Rejoining towards the rear of the field, McMillan quickly settled into a rhythm, pumping out a sequence of personal best laps to move back inside the top half of the field, although subsequent stops dropped him down a lap due to the succession of Safety Car periods through the middle stages of the race.

By hour five though, Baird was back behind the wheel and pushing strongly to return to the lead lap and up to seventh, well within reach of the leaders, the multiple Carrera Cup champion handing the car across to Richards to start an assault on the lead, but 24 laps into his stint, Richards was forced to retire from eighth place with gearbox failure.

“It was going perfectly to plan,” Richards admitted with frustration. “It’s hard to know what may have happened, but everything we’d worked our strategy on was falling into place. Justin’s stints were over, Bairdo put us onto the tail of the leaders, and we were strong, but coming out of turn one to start lap 130, I pulled from second to third, and we lost all drive.

“I don’t know what happened, but that was it, game over.

“I’ve had disappointment at Bathurst before, but this one was frustrating because we felt we were in with a shot. We didn’t have the outright pace of the Nissan or the lead Audi, but we would have finished on the lead lap - no question - and from there, who knows what might have happened.”

“It’s certainly frustrating, but apart from finish, we did everything we set out to do,” McMillan added. “The car was almost faultless, the driver lineup worked well, I was quicker than I’ve ever been at Bathurst, and we were right where we wanted to be.

“We don’t know exactly what happened yet, because the car is still on the way back to Melbourne, but the gearbox was serviced just before Bathurst because of the rigours of a 12-Hour endurance race, and it’s not something we’ve ever experienced before, but that - as they tell me - is motor racing!”

For the M-Motorsport/Interlloy team, things now ‘step up’ a gear, with the introduction of the new Camaro GT3 which they will campaign at the season opening Australian GT round in Adelaide in three weeks time.

“Our new car arrives in Melbourne this week, and we’ll do a shake-down at Phillip island and Winton to have it ready for Clipsal,” McMillan confirmed.

The Adelaide event will also see the M-Motorsport Lamborghini sport new colours, with Queenslander John Magro taking over the reigns for the forthcoming season, whilst McMillan will be joined by former Formula One driver - and Reiter Engineering factory driver - Tomas Enge for the Clipsal event.

“It’s going to be a busy three weeks,” McMillan agreed, “but the team has geared up for it, there’s some Reiter Engineering engineers and technicians coming out to assist us at Clipsal, and we have three cars [including the DPM Motorsport Camaro of Dale Patterson] almost ready to go, so I think we’ll be pretty right by the time the truck leaves the factory for Adelaide in a fortnight’s time. Wish us luck!”


Keep up to date with further announcements from the M Motorsport/Interlloy race team by visiting; www.facebook.com/MMotorsportGT3


2015 Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli

Rnd#1 - 26 February-1 March, Clipsal 500, Adelaide, SA*
Rnd#2 - 22-24 May, Phillip Island, Victoria**
Rnd#3 - 10-12 July, Townsville, Queensland*
Rnd#4 - 21-23 August, Sydney Motorsport Park, NSW*
Rnd#5 - 11-13 September, Sandown 500, Melbourne, Victoria*
Rnd#6 - 13-15 November, Highlands Motorsport Park, Cromwell, NZ
(* with V8 Supercars, ** with the Shannons Nationals)


M Motorsport is proudly supported by Interlloy Engineering Steels and Alloys, Australian Post Tensioning and Vibrabody.

About Interlloy
Interlloy Pty Ltd is Australia’s lead supplier of Engineering Steels and Alloys to engineering machine shops both nationally and internationally.
Founded in 1987and now employing over one hundred and forty (140) people in five states of Australia, Interlloy has become the major supplier of Special Steels to the General and Heavy Engineering Industries, Toolmaking, Mining, Gas & Oil Fields, Automotive, Manufacturing, Petrochemical, Pump, Power Generation and Transport Industries.

For more information, please visit; www.interlloy.com.au


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