James KoundourisSupabarn Supermarkets Team drivers James and Theo Koundouris have again showed their class leading pace following last weekend’s fifth round of the 2006 Speed Energy Drink Australian GT Championship at Mallala Raceway in South Australia.

Only some unfortunate circumstances and on track incidents stopped the two Canberra-based drivers scoring their best ever finishes in the competitive championship, in an eventful weekend that saw both Dare Coffee Shots / Supabarn Supermarkets Porsche GT3 Cup Cars in the thick of the action.

Both drivers qualified strongly in one of the tightest sessions held this season, James placing his #69 Dare Coffee Shots entry on the front row of the grid for the first time this year.

His time of 1m09.6340 was well inside the existing practice record at the 2.6km circuit an hour outside of Adelaide, and saw him under half a second behind defending series champ Bryce Washington’s similar Porsche.

“I thought that a 1m09.6-lap would have been enough, so Bryce’s lap must have been special,” James said following the 20-minute session.

At his first look at the tricky Mallala Circuit, Theo placed his #19 Supabarn Supermarkets / Dare Coffee Shots Porsche 6th on the grid, sixth tenths behind his brother and well within striking distance of the leaders.

A frantic opening lap of the first, 20-lap race saw James shuffled to third at the end of lap one, a position he held until First Crick’s Dodge Viper and then David Steven’s Ferrari were able to slip by.

After running nose to tail for a number of laps, James and Theo inherited one extra place when Stevens Ferrari spun on lap 14, the pair settling into the strong fourth and fifth positions, respectively, that they held to the line.

After running in such close proximity for the opening race, Theo and James came just a little too close on the first lap of race two, the #69 entry sent to the back of the field after contact from behind in the first corner.

The pair collided after Greg Crick and David Wall made contact in front, both James and Theo forced to brake hard in what was a typical first corner ‘concertina’ that ended with James spinning off the circuit.

“Everyone was nose to tail, Crick and David (Wall) had a coming together in front and James and I both had to get on the brakes hard,” said Theo.

“I just gave James a tap and it was enough to turn him around.”

“Theo just hit me from behind and I spun,” agreed James.

“I drove as hard as I could to get back to fourth place – I couldn’t have gone any harder.”

With Theo holding third for the entire race, the spotlight was placed on James as he charged through the field to come from last to an eventual fourth place finish within 20 laps, getting past a host of extremely competitive cars in the process.

Theo’s third place result was his third race podium of the season.

The Third, and final, 20-lap affair was yet another action packed encounter typical of the championship this season.

Theo’s #19 entry again ended third, but was forced to work hard for the position after a slight mistake at turn one slipped the GT3 from third to eighth at the end of the first lap. Theo finished just a tenth ahead of David Wall at the line in yet another strong result.

“I made a slight mistake and it cost me four or five positions,” Theo explained.

“If that didn’t happen I think the result would have been even better, but it was a pretty good weekend overall. I hadn’t been in the car for a couple of months and it was my first time at Mallala. The pace kept getting better as the weekend progressed and as we made changes to the car.”

James’ #69 Porsche had an even more drama-filled run, unavoidable Contact first with Stevens and then Washington earning him a black flag and a subsequent Drive through penalty.

Driving with a bent steering arm and a battered car, James brought the Dare Shots entry home in an eventual 7th position to cap off an action packed weekend.

“It was a disappointing weekend, because we had the speed to win but we weren’t able to capitalize on it,” said James.

“If things had gone differently we could have challenged Greg in the final race because we certainly had the speed.”

The next round of the Speed Energy Drink Australian GT Championship is presently scheduled for August 19-20 at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, in Victoria.