Having shown great pace over the last few editions of the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour, Melbourne’s M-Motorsport are heading into the 2016 running of the event intent on taking the fight to the top teams as the first major GT3 event of the year gets underway in just over one week’s time.
With two experienced Bathurst V8 Supercar campaigners behind the wheel combined with the two drivers that will lead the team in the Australian GT Championship and the Australian Endurance Championship, team-owner Justin McMillan believes the Interlloy/Wilson Storage Lamborghini has the right mix of experience and speed.
“Over the last couple of years at Bathurst we’ve been right in the mix early, and have actually led the race, so we have that experience to draw on,” he explained.
“Experienced Bathurst campaigners Dale Wood and John McIntyre will anchor the team, whilst Dale’s younger brother Glen and I will back them up.
“Dale always rises to the occasion in the Bathurst 1000 and he was fast when he drove with us ahead of our shortened race in 2014, whilst John has proven fast on the mountain in the past and was strong there last year in the Trass Family Ferrari.
“As for Glen, well he’s been a revelation since joining the team last year where he was quick at Sydney, Sandown and Highlands, and whilst he’s not competed at Bathurst before, he was quick in New Zealand last year despite having no prior event experience, and actually handed me the car in the lead in the AGT final. He’s also got Dale to draw on for experience, and we’ve got a bit of time to dial ourselves in with more than five hours practice.
“I’ve been quicker every time I’ve been there with 2016 my fifth Bathurst event, and I’m happy to say I’ve completed every session I’ve started.
“We’re also going to run our incumbent Gallardo FL2 as opposed to the new Extenso that is on its way from Reiter Engineering right now. Potential delays and issues with running a brand new car with no time to test ahead of the event ultimately made the decision for us.
“We saw last year in the final rounds of AGT that the FL2 was as quick as anything else in the field, and it’s a known product, we’ve been running one for three seasons now.
“After the fire at Highlands which was mostly superficial, the car has had a complete birthday and is almost new and good to go. We’ve tested, and both Glen and I had some pretty serious pace at Phillip Island, so I think it’s going to be an exceptional event for the M-Motorsport/Interlloy team.”
For the younger Wood, despite his success in a variety of cars over the years, this year’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour will be his maiden race on ‘the Mountain’.
“I’ve done plenty of laps on foot with track walks over the years, and a lot of miles on the simulator, but I expect it’s all going to be very different the first time out the gate.
“Fortunately I’ve done quite a few miles in the car now, and am pretty relaxed behind the wheel, so that’s an advantage, it will just come down to logging laps ahead of the race.
“I’m excited but 100% aware of the challenge, and at Bathurst there are so many of them - from managing traffic, to patience, to knowing when to charge and when to conserve, there’s going to be a lot to take in, but I’m fortunate to have Dale’s experience to draw on, and I’m sure John and Justin will have plenty of tips for me too.
“It’s funny too - despite the fact that Dale has plenty of V8 Supercar miles around Bathurst, he’s never actually driven a race lap in the Gallardo, despite having been entered for the 2014 12-Hour and the Highlands 101 last year. On both occasions the car was retired before he got a chance to turn any race miles, so I know he’s pumped about getting behind the wheel and having a real crack at the Mountain in anger.
“I can’t wait to get there, and I can’t thank my supporters enough - especially Wilson Storage - for the chance to not just join the team for Bathurst, but also the complete Australian GT and Australian Endurance Championship events this year in the new Extenso, it’s going to be a season to remember!”
For McIntyre, a return to Bathurst 12-months after making his GT3 debut at the mountain, comes a chance to fulfill the promise he showed in the Trass Family Ferrari, and the experienced Touring Car veteran is looking forward to rejoining the M-Motorsport team.
“Any time you get to drive a GT3 spec car around Bathurst is a highlight of your racing career.” McIntyre admitted. “I am already incredibly excited to go to Bathurst again. My expectations will really only formalise as we go through the weekend because it is such a different environment in regards to the circuit, cars, mix of teams and drivers and the crazy changing conditions like driving in the dark avoiding Kangaroos!
“We do have a very strong driver line-up. Everyone is either experienced at Bathurst or experienced in the #48 Gallardo or a combination of both. Last year I went there with a rookie team with two rookies drivers and after eight hours we were well in contention for a top 10. But we didn’t finish so it was all theoretical. If we can keep the car clean for 11.5 hours we will be in the top 10 and with a genuine chance of a podium in the AM category.” Opening practice for the 2016 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour gets underway at 8:20am on Friday, 5 February, with the first of five practice sessions totaling five and a half hours ahead of qualifying on Saturday afternoon and the main event - the Bathurst 12-Hour -which begins in the early morning light at 5:45am on Sunday, 7 February.
The 2016 event will be broadcast LIVE on Channel 7 and 7mate (check local guides for details).
Keep up to date with the M-Motorsport/Interlloy race team from Bathurst by visiting; www.facebook.com/MMotorsportGT3
2016 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour (5-7 February, 2016)
Schedule: [AEDT]Friday, 5 February
8:20am - Practice #1 (30-minutes)
8:55am - Practice #2 (60-minutes) 12:30pm - Practice #3 (90-minutes) 3:45pm - Practice #4 (90-minutes)
Saturday, 6 February
8:30am - Practice #5 (60-minutes)
12:55pm - Qualifying #1 (60-minutes)
2:05pm - Qualifying #2 (20-minutes)
Sunday, 7 February
5:45am - Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour
“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.
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
Twelve months ago dual-Victorian State Series champion Justin McMillan made his ‘main game’ debut at the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour, one of the most daunting circuits in the world. By the close of the event he had both impressed his highly-rated team-mate Steven Richards, and run strongly amongst the national GT regulars.
For his second attempt at the notorious Bathurst endurance event, McMillan employed not just a fourth driver, but the last Reiter Engineering-prepared Lamborghini Gallardo FLII built - it arrived just a fortnight before the season opener.
During testing at Phillip Island and Winton the new car performed brilliantly and that translated into pace during opening practice at Bathurst.