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
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)
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.