After tough start to the 2014 Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli, the M-Motorsport Interlloy Lamborghini Gallardo of Justin McMillan and reigning Bathurst 1000 champion Steve Richards has continued to improve, claiming a string of pole position trophies and podium finishes.

The season started well enough with pole position at Sandown first time around after Richards demolished the standing lap record. Sadly though the results from the two 60-minute races were less favourable after contact in race one whilst battling over the podium, and a mechanical fault in race two.

From there though the season has steadily improved, with two more pole positions and a string of podiums including two this time around at Sandown where team-boss Justin McMillan set a pace that surprised even himself.

“In practice on old tyres I went around the circuit faster than I’ve ever been, and on new tyres, I’m over a second faster than my personal best at Sandown,” he explained.

For the second Sandown event McMillan was without the assistance of Richards who had his schedule full of V8 Supercar commitments with Red Bull, and his dual role as a championship contender in the Carrera Cup Series. Instead, the M-Motorsport team employed the services of another part-time V8 Supercar driver, but experienced Lamborghini campaigner, David Russell.

“Dave is no slouch in a Lamborghini having run with Roger Lago a number of times over the last few seasons,” McMillan said. “He also ran with Roger and Richo [Richards] at the Spa 24-Hour race a couple of months ago too, and he was pretty quick, so it made sense to sign him on.”

Just how quick was made evident after qualifying [1:08.8147R] where Russell was seven tenths under Richards benchmark pole time from March, after a session long battle with points leader Richard Muscat.

“I’m pretty happy with that,” Russell admitted afterwards. “It was a busy lap, but clean.”

Off pole for the opening 40-minute race, McMillan held out former reigning Bathurst 12-Hour champion Peter Edwards and title contender Tony Quinn for the opening few laps before Quinn moved through to second behind the points leading Mercedes of Richard Muscat.

From there though he held his ground behind the VIP Petfoods Aston Martin, pitting for his compulsory pit stop [CPS] to hand Russell the car from third place.

With a longer pit-stop than his rivals by virtue of the team’s pole position start and Russell’s status as a ‘Pro’ driver, the Nissan V8 Supercar regular was forced to drive the wheels off the #48 Interlloy Lamborghini to regain third in the process setting one of the fastest laps of the race [1:09.3670].

Off the second row for the start of race two, Russell was quickly through to the lead, he and points leader Muscat driving away from the field as they set about breaking the lap-record, lap-after-lap.

In the end it was Russell who set the benchmark on lap nine, his 1:08.9425 only marginally shy of his pole time, but as he drew towards the CPS and started to pull away from the Mercedes Benz driver, drama struck as a the right rear tyre suffered a failure after catching the outside edge of the kerb on the run onto the front straight.

Russell was forced to endure an arduous journey back to the pit lane - almost an entire lap - without causing any further damage to the car.

Once back in pit lane, the M-Motorsport team made a rapid tyre change, and strapped McMillan back behind the wheel for the closing stint, the dual Victorian champion turning some stunning laps to haul himself from 13th back to eighth at the flag.

“That was fun,” McMillan beamed post-race. “But disappointing that we had to come through from the back. Dave was just unlucky, because we were just a couple of laps from stopping anyway, and would have changed outside tyres, but that’s motor racing, we’ll give it another crack in race three.”

McMillan started the final 40-minute race from row four, but the M-Motorsport team leader was soon through to fifth, and up to fourth behind the Bathurst 12-Hour winning Ferrari by lap six. He held station behind Edwards until the CPS, not prepared to make any risky moves and jeopardise the team’s second consecutive podium finish.

“I was quicker, but I also wanted to ensure that David had good tyres under him for the closing stages of the race so that he could go after the leaders,” McMillan explained afterwards.

Russell was quick from his opening lap in the car, working his way through to third at the flag and one of the fastest cars on the circuit.

“I can’t thank Justin enough for the chance to drive with him this weekend,” Russell said post-race. “It’s always nice to get in a Lamborghini, and this one was seriously fast.”

“Dave really set that up with his qualifying run, but to be more than a second faster than my PB here in the past is almost as good as a win for me,” McMillan added. “We’ve shown we can be fast, and with our second podium result in two rounds, we’ve shown we can be consistently amongst the leaders. I think it’s only a matter of time until we make the top step of the podium.”

For the Australian GT Championship teams, there is now almost two months until the season finale, back at Highlands Motorsport Park at Cromwell in New Zealand during the second week of November [7-9].

The Sandown round of the Australian GT Championship will be telecast on Channel 7mate on Saturday, 20 September at 12:30pm (check local guides for confirmation).

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

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Rnd#5 - 2014 Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli

Sandown Park - Qualifying (12 September)

1. Justin McMillan/David Russell (GT - Gallardo FL2 GT3) - 1:08.8147R
2. Richard Muscat (GT - Mercedes Benz SLS AMG GT3) - 1:09.1171
3. Klark Quinn (GT - McLaren MP4-12C) - 1:09.1524
4. John Bowe/Peter Edwards (GT - Ferrari 458 Italia GT3) - 1:09.7005
5. Dean Koutsoumidis/James Winslow (GTT - Audi R8 LMS GT3) - 1:09.8012
6. Tony Quinn (GT - Aston Martin Vantage GT3) - 1:09.8252
7. John Morriss (GT - Porsche GT3-R) - 1:10.0165
8. Rod Salmon/Nathan Antunes (GTT - Audi R8 LMS GT3) - 1:10.1161

9. Ockert Fourie/John Magro (GTT - Audi R8 LMS GT3) - 1:10.7136
10. Jim Manolios/Ryan Millier (GT - Ferrari 458 Italia GT3) - 1:10.8003


Race#1 - 40-minutes (13 September)

1. Tony Quinn (GT - Aston Martin Vantage GT3) - 26-laps
2. Richard Muscat (GT - Mercedes Benz SLS AMG GT3)
3. Justin McMillan/David Russell (GT - Gallardo FL2 GT3)
4. John Morriss (GT - Porsche GT3-R)
5. Ross Lilley (GT - Gallardo FL2 GT3)
6. Dean Koutsoumidis/James Winslow (GTT - Audi R8 LMS GT3)
7. John Bowe/Peter Edwards (GT - Ferrari 458 Italia GT3)
8. Rod Salmon/Nathan Antunes (GTT - Audi R8 LMS GT3) 

9. Steve McLaughlan (GT - Audi R8 LMS GT3 ultra)

10. Jan Jinadasa/Daniel Gaunt (GTT - Lamborghini Gallardo LP520) - 25-laps


Race#2 - 40-minutes (13 September)

1. Richard Muscat (GT - Mercedes Benz SLS AMG GT3) - 32-laps
2. Tony Quinn (GT - Aston Martin Vantage GT3)
3. John Bowe/Peter Edwards (GT - Ferrari 458 Italia GT3)
4. John Morriss (GT - Porsche GT3-R)
5. Dean Koutsoumidis/James Winslow (GTT - Audi R8 LMS GT3)
6. Rod Salmon/Nathan Antunes (GTT - Audi R8 LMS GT3) 

7. Ross Lilley (GT - Gallardo FL2 GT3) - 31-laps
8. Justin McMillan/David Russell (GT - Gallardo FL2 GT3)
9. Jim Manolios/Ryan Millier (GT - Ferrari 458 Italia GT3)
10. Michael Hovey/Matt Campbell (GTT - Porsche GT3 Cup)


Race#3 - 40-minutes (14 September)

1. Tony Quinn (GT - Aston Martin Vantage GT3) - 31-laps
2. Richard Muscat (GT - Mercedes Benz SLS AMG GT3)
3. Justin McMillan/David Russell (GT - Gallardo FL2 GT3)
4. John Bowe/Peter Edwards (GT - Ferrari 458 Italia GT3)
5. John Morriss (GT - Porsche GT3-R)
6. Ross Lilley (GT - Gallardo FL2 GT3)
7. Dean Koutsoumidis/James Winslow (GTT - Audi R8 LMS GT3)
8. Kevin Weeks (GTT - Ford GT) - 30-laps
9. Rod Salmon/Nathan Antunes (GTT - Audi R8 LMS GT3)
10. Jim Manolios/Ryan Millier (GT - Ferrari 458 Italia GT3)
 2014 Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli

GT Championship Class points (after round five of six)
1. Richard Muscat (487 points), 2. Tony Quinn (455), 3. John Bowe (388), 4. Justin McMillan (313), 5. Klark Quinn (292), 6. Peter Edwards (273), 7. Steven Richards (213), 8. Tony D’Alberto (147), 9. James Koundouris (138), 10. Ross Lilley (136), 11. Andrew MacPherson (119), 12. David Russell (101), 13. Steve McLaughlan (93), 14. John Morriss (89), 15. Steve Owen (84) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

2014 Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli

Rnd#1 - 28-30 March, Sandown, Melbourne, Victoria
(2x 60-minute races - The Nationals)

Rnd#2 - 23-25 May, Phillip Island, Victoria
(101-lap race - The Nationals)

Rnd#3 - 4-6 July, Townsville, Queensland
(3x 40-minute races - V8 Supercars)

Rnd#4 - 22-24 August, Sydney Motorsport Park, NSW
(2x 30-minute, 1x 60-minute races - V8 Supercars)

Rnd#5 - 12-14 September, Sandown, Melbourne, Victoria
(3x 40-minute races - V8 Supercars)

Rnd#6 - 7-9 November, Highlands Motorsport Park, Cromwell, NZ

(2x 40-min races + 101-lap non-championship feature race)

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