Published on July 13th, 2016 | by Amirul Mukminin0
V8 Supercar driver to join GT Asia Series in Fuji
After making their debut in the GT Asia Series at the Okayama round last time out, Miedecke Stone Motorsport have revealed that they will field a new face alongside George Miedecke on the famed Fuji International Speedway – a face with a wealth of experience in Australian motorsport..
Last time out Australian GT points leader Nathan Morcom joined the Australian-based operation for the Okayama round, the team enduring a tough start to their Asian campaign after suffering some niggling issues with the former Australian race-winning Aston Martin.
By the second race at Okayama the crew felt they’d uncovered the issue, and have been working on solutions since Okayama in preparation for a podium assault at Fuji.
Initially team-principal Andrew Miedecke was scheduled to join son George, in an effort to fulfill a 25-year dream of following through on an event he contested at Fuji in a touring car.
“We ran a 500-kilometre touring car race at Fuji in 1991 in our RS500 Ford Sierra Cosworth and were a long way in front when we suffered a mechanical failure,” Miedecke reflected.
“Coming back to Fuji and being competitive has been a dream of mine ever since. Nathan did a fantastic job at Okayama, but he has commitments elsewhere this weekend so wasn’t available. I felt that I wanted a driver in the car alongside George that was going to be as quick, or quicker, and that’s why we elected to run Ashley Walsh.”
A multiple race winner in a variety of categories over the years, more recently Walsh was a regular in the V8 Supercar Series running for Erebus Motorsport, the team who claimed an emphatic GT Asia Series victory at Zhuhai in late 2013 with former F1 driver Mika Hakkinen and Hong Kong’s Matt Solomon.
Switching to the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia program in 2016, Walsh has shown just why he is considered one of the best young talents in Australia, winning races and competing at the front of the field, whilst he has also been recently signed as an endurance co-driver for the Brad Jones Motorsport Holden operation for the famed Bathurst 1000.
“I’m excited to be back with Matt Stone Racing and the Miedecke family, we had a great year in 2013 together in the Dunlop [V8 Supercar] series,” Walsh admitted. “It will be an interesting weekend for me with a new car and track to learn, but both look exciting and I can’t wait to get there and turn some laps. I’ve always liked GT3 racing, but this will be my first event in a full GT3-spec car! I certainly hope it will be the beginning of many appearances in the category and I’m looking forward to doing it with a great bunch of guys.”
From Andrew Miedecke’s perspective, moving away from driving duties to concentrate on achieving the maximum they can from the car and the team has presented a new challenge, a challenge which the successful Australian car dealer is looking forward to.
“There’s no question the Vantage is still one of the best GT3 cars in the world, and I think it’s capable of running at the front. We just need to get on top of the niggling braking issue we had at Okayama, and I think the addition of Ash to the team will help us move forward more quickly. He’s been a race winner with Matt Stone Racing in the past, and a strong competitor at the top level of the sport in Australia, so I don’t think it will take him long to adapt to the car.
“With that 1.5-kilometre long main straight at Fuji, I think we’ll be able to make up some of the deficit to the leaders – the Aston showed that at Fuji last year claiming pole for race two and running with the Ferraris in both races – so if we get on top of the small issues that hampered us at Okayama, we could surprise a few people..!”
Walsh and Miedecke will get their first serious look at the famed Fuji Speedway on Friday during the three scheduled 45-minute practice sessions, ahead of the two tight and intense 15-minute qualifiers on Saturday morning that lead into the first of the two 60-minute races on Saturday afternoon.