V8 Supercar star takes to Lamborghini for NZ and Bathurst
The M-Motorsport/Interlloy team of Justin McMillan heads to the final round of the Australian GT Championship in New Zealand looking for a strong result to close out the year, and they’re recruited a V8 Supercar star to give them an edge as they go looking for another podium finish at Highlands Motorsport Park to back up their result in the 2014 Highlands 101.
At that point it was reigning Bathurst 1000 champion Steven Richards who shared driving duties with McMillan, but to close out the 2015 Australian season and put the team right in the mix amongst the leaders in this years Highlands 101, M-Motorsport have recruited their 2014 Bathurst 12-Hour driver, Dale Wood.
Wood is no stranger to the Interlloy Lamborghini Gallardo FL2 GT3, but he will be making his debut at Highlands as a rookie. He will have illustrious company though, including V8 Supercar team-mate Fabian Coulthard and rivals Garth Tander and Shane Van Gisbergen, all of whom are expected to challenge for the three race wins across the weekend.
For McMillan, Highlands gives him an opportunity to step back behind the wheel of the Gallardo after campaigning much of the year in the mighty Reiter Engineering-built Chevrolet Camaro GT3.
“We’ve just concluded a deal with Europe to campaign a new Gallardo R-EX in the 2016 Australian GT sprint series,” McMillan confirmed.
“As a result I wanted to get back into Lamborghini mode and prepare for that, and also the 12-Hour which is where we will debut the car next year.”
“I’m also a lot more comfortable in the Lamborghini at Highlands, and was strong there last year with Richo [Steven Richards] and I think together with Dale, we’re going to be just as quick this year, if not quicker, so there really was no question we’d take the Gallardo.”
Dale won’t be the only driver back in a Gallardo for the New Zealand event, younger brother Glen will join McMillan for the two 60-minute races that round out the 2015 Australian GT Championship before handing the reigns across to the elder of the two siblings for the 3-hour endurance race.
“I drove with Glen at the Sydney AGT round in the Gallardo, and he was quick straight out of the box, very impressive, and didn’t put a foot wrong all weekend,” McMillan admitted. “Like his brother he’s had experience in Supercars and has great race-craft, but he adapted so quickly to the Lambo that we had no hesitation in putting him in the car again at Sandown where he took it to a podium finish.”
Whilst McMillan is keen to achieve another strong result in New Zealand, the big focus for Highlands though is on preparation for the 12-Hour.
“Our new Gallardo R-EX - the Extenso - will arrive in the next few weeks in Melbourne. It will be the last of the breed from Reiter Engineering, and has already proven quick in Europe and in Asia, so we’re expecting big things at Bathurst, but we haven’t all worked together as a team yet, so that will be the focus in New Zealand. The boys will both get laps, and we’ll all be able to interact like we’ll need to at Mount Panorama, so it will be invaluable.
“The mountain is always a challenge, and we’ve had mixed results. We’ve led the race and been on track for at least a podium before little niggling issues have cost us. We also lost out in 2014 after Ross Lilley made a gentlemanly move to let the race leaders through across Skyline which forced him offline and onto oil that had been spilled by an accident which led to a big hit, so just an unfortunate sequence of events.
“That’s Bathurst though, but at least we have that experience now to draw on, and a car which has proven both fast and consistent across long race distances. I’m excited, I think we could be in for an outstanding result next year, especially if Dale is behind the wheel late in the race mixing it with the European stars, they could get quite a surprise!”
For now the focus is on the final round of Australian GT and the Highlands 101, 3-hour endurance race with McMillan and Glen Wood on track this Friday for practice and qualifying ahead of two 60-minute compulsory pit stop races on Saturday, before Dale Wood steps in alongside McMillan for the 101 on Sunday afternoon.
Keep up to date with further announcements from the M-Motorsport/Interlloy race team across the weekend by visiting; www.facebook.com/MMotorsportGT3
2015 Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli
Highlands Motorsport Park, Cromwell, New Zealand (13-15 November, 2015)
Schedule: [NZDT - GMT +13]Friday, 13 November
10:45am - Practice #1 (40-minutes)
12:30pm - Practice #2 (40-minutes)
2:25pm - Qualifying #1 (30-minutes)
3:35pm - Qualifying #2 (30-minutes)
Saturday, 14 November
8.55am - Warm-up (30-minutes)
10:55am - Race#1 (60-minutes)
2:00pm - Race#2 (60-minutes)
Sunday, 15 November
10:10am - Highlands 101 Qualifying Driver A (18-minutes)
10:32am - Highlands 101 Qualifying Driver B (18-minutes)
1:20pm - Highlands 101 Race (101-laps)