Published on September 14th, 2015 | by Subhash Nair0
Podium for M-Motorsport in Melbourne
Coming into the final round of the Australian GT Championship on home soil, the expectations from Melbourne’s M-Motorsport team were high. Two competitive teams were entered, with rising stars Glen Wood and Elliot Barbour taking over the reigns of the #46 Lamborghini Gallardo, whilst team-leader Justin McMillan would be joined by New Zealand ace John McIntyre in the #48 Interlloy Camaro.
With ongoing development work with the Reiter Engineering-built Sareni Camaro providing plenty of optimism after a pre-race test at Phillip Island, and the announcement that John McIntyre – the man who assisted New Zealand’s Inky Tulloch to the North Island Endurance title in his Camaro just weeks earlier – joining the Interlloy team, there was much to look forward to.
Practice started strongly with the team’s two ‘junior’ drivers setting the pace in the Gallardo, backing up the performance of Steven Richards in the car 12-months prior with the former Bathurst 1000 champion putting the Interlloy Lamborghini comfortably on pole at Sandown. McIntyre too was quick, putting the Interlloy Camaro inside the top ten ahead of qualifying, whilst McMillan pronounced himself comfortable with the pace of the car.
By the close of the two 20-minute sessions, the #46 Gallardo had qualified strongly on the second row of the grid, whilst the two Camaro drivers had ensured a ninth place starting position for the thundering American muscle-car. Wood and McMillan started the two M-Motorsport cars for the opening 60-minute race, and both maintained their positions inside the top ten, with Wood sticking onto the tail of the leading trio, whilst McMillan used the bulk horsepower of the 7.9-litre Chev to run as high as eight before an unfortunate spin at turn four trapped him at one of the most difficult parts of the circuit.
Sadly for the M-Motorsport team, just prior to McMillan’s spin, the #46 car was also out of the equation with a deflating tyre forcing an early stop. Despite that, both Wood and Barbour stormed through their stints to recover for a 16th placed finish, the two local drivers at times amongst the fastest cars on the circuit. McIntyre and Barbour started the two Interlloy cars for Sunday morning’s second and final race, the two drivers working their way forward ahead of the compulsory pit stops, McIntyre quickly onto the tail of the top ten before being thwarted by a power issue, whilst Barbour put in a stunning driver to work his way through to 11th before the stop.
McIntyre used all the tricks in the book to extract the maximum out of the #48 Camaro, but ultimately an exhaust failure sapped the big 7.9-litre Chevrolet of vital power, a situation that forced him into a spin before the CPS trying to extract the maximum from the car. Ultimately the pair were classified 19th at the end of the race, their best lap of 1:10.9848 a sure indication something was wrong. Whilst the Camaro was battling a power issue, there were no such problems with the #46 team, with both Barbour and Wood setting a stunning pace through both stanzas of the race to cross the line an impressive third, just metres behind the second placed Mercedes and only three seconds down on the race winner despite the fact the duo had started from the eighth row of the grid!
The final round of the Australian GT Championship will be held once more at Highlands Motorsport Park on the south-island of New Zealand (13-15 November) with two short sprint races ahead of the annual (non-championship) 101-lap endurance race on Sunday afternoon.