After a busy couple of weeks the team enjoyed a well-deserved weekend off before loading the truck again and hopping on another plane back to Sydney for round 4 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Championship.
We came into the round well prepared with Tim leading the 'Elite' category, Jaxon second in the 'Pro' category, Jake third in 'Pro' and Jim looking to back-up his round win from Winton in 'Elite'. The weekend included the second race of the 'Jim Richards Endurance Trophy' Championship with a 30-lap endurance race on Sunday morning.
Like Jaxon at Winton in the last round Tim was always going to have a tough weekend against his championship rival at his home track. He qualified 2nd (5th outright) and after a good start in race one he led his team-mate Jake Klarich for 3 laps. Being team-mates in different categories Tim didn't make it too difficult for Jake to get by and followed his stable-mate forward to pressure Ryan for the remaining four laps but was unable to find a way by.
In race two Tim was well prepared to make a tidy pass on Ryan. Unfortunately the officials didn't notice Ryan's car leaking coolant since the start of the race, which made it a very slippery race for Tim. A spin at turn 2 while making a move for the Elite class lead dropped him back to 9th on lap 20 with his recovery to finish 3rd in Elite the highlight of the last ten laps.
In the race 3 Tim had a fairly lonely race to 3rd with a solid gap back to the second Elite class car Gilbertson which was enough for him to take his second round win of the championship.
Jim qualified an exceptional 3rd behind his team-mate Miles. In race one Jim took a steady approach and although he dropped a position he finished a respectable 4th in class.
In the second race Jim got an average start from 7th on the grid and dropped a few spots. He had a fierce battle with Gilbertson, Morriss and Shahin seeing him running an outstanding 2nd in class and 5th on the road until an unfortunate incident on the 22nd lap. Jim wasn't given any racing room exiting turn two and the contact sent his car flying into air landing with significant damage. The other driver was penalised for the incident. The AMRC (Awesome MR Crew) did their usual magic to get car 72 back on track with minutes to spare before race three.
In race three Jim had a blinder first couple of laps passing 7 cars from the rear of the grid up to position 7 and 4th in class. We are confident he could have made another couple of places but the damaged tyres compromised his strategy, but it was great to see him get back on track and be so fast after such a spectacular shunt.
Jake qualified 3rd and did a great job to be closer to Jaxon's times than he has been all season. In race one he finished a few seconds behind Jaxon and Hardeman after a bad start and took a few laps to get through traffic back to 3rd.
For race two he dropped a spot at the start but was far more assertive getting past Ryan only taking two laps to get through but it was enough for him to 'lose the scent' of the two leaders and drift back. He still finished third and learnt a lot about tyre degradation during the 50 minute race.
In race three he delivered by far his most aggressive and determined drive since he started racing Porsches only three months ago! While Jaxon and Hardeman had a battle royal at the front of the pack, Jake was never more than two seconds away and ready to pounce if the two came together which was looking more likely as the race went on. In the end, his best lap was quicker than the race winner and he was less than a second behind at the chequered flag.
Jaxon did an outstanding job to qualify on pole again at SMP. During the very tricky launch procedure at the start of race 1 his race boot got caught under the brake and he was outgunned into turn one by Hardeman and although he tried every trick in the book to get by he finished in a hard-fought 2nd place.
In the 30 lap Jim Richards Enduro on Sunday morning he got a good start to lead Hardeman from grid two and drove a dominant race to lead from lights flag and win by almost 5 seconds. He also broke the lap record. This was a crushing drive and shows his competence being so quick while conserving his tyres in such a long race.
In race three Hardeman got the jump from grid two to lead. The battle between the two young guns was epic but unfortunately for Jaxon on the last lap he was run wide out of the hairpin after running side-by-side for three corners and had to settle for a disgruntled and disappointed 2nd. The only consolation being another 'fastest race lap'.
We went to Sydney Motorsport Park with some confidence after our results at Rennsport back in April. The highlights were obviously Tim's Elite round win and Jake's amazing form and rate of improvement to post a quicker lap time than the winner Hardeman in race 3.
If not for Jaxon (potentially) being too polite while racing side-by-side and eventually being forced wide out of the hairpin on the last lap of race 3 which cost him the round win, he would have closed the small gap to the championship leader. There is no question about how intense the battle is between these two.
While Jim sustained his first suspension damage since starting his GT3 Cup Challenge career last year he still had a blast and would be an 'Elite' Championship contender if not for missing the first round at Sandown.
Our next Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge round is at our home track 'Queensland Raceway' at the end of the month. In the meantime we will head up to Townsville this weekend to run the Fastway Audi and the Objective McLaren in the Australian GT!