vip petfoodsTony and Klark Quinn were well on the way to victory in the first round of the 2012 Australian Production Car Endurance Championship at Phillip Island, until a freakish pitlane incident put them out of the race.

The Gold Coast father-son team’s V.I.P. Petfoods Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X had to be retired after it fell off a trolley jack during its third pit stop, just past the halfway mark of the six-hour race at the 4.5km Victorian circuit.

The jack punched a hole through the driver’s side floor, protruding about 20cm into the cabin. It narrowly missed Tony Quinn, who had just swapped with Klark and was about to begin his second stint.

A disappointed Tony explained that he and Klark had been looking forward to scoring their first win with the Evo X, which had just replaced the V.I.P. Petfoods team’s Evo IX.

“It was a shame to have this happen, because we were having a great run,” he said.

“From the start Klark built up a 30-40 second lead, and because he managed to make his first pit stop later than the other quick Evos, I was still in front after we swapped over.

“We lost the lead for a few laps after our second pit stop because the field had closed up behind the safety car, but it didn’t take Klark long to get ahead and start opening a gap again.”

Tony said that the V.I.P. Petfoods team’s only problem up to that point was a couple of delaminating tyres.

“I had the right-front tyre let go near the end of my first stint, but it happened just after I went past the pit entry so I had to drive a whole lap on the flat tyre.

“The same thing happened to Klark at about the same distance into his second stint. It was when he came into the pits to hand the car back to me that the car fell off the jack.

“When we lift the car from the side, the trolley jack goes under the reinforced part of the sill where the standard jack goes, but it’s pretty small.”

“I was belted in, ready to go, and suddenly the jack came up through the floor – I’ve never had anything like that happen in a race before!”

The weekend wasn’t a total loss according to Klark, who is due to return to Phillip Island in late-May for the second round of the 2012 Australian GT Championship.

“It was good to do plenty of laps here before the GT round,” he said. “I didn’t get much running at the Phillip Island GT round last year because of various car problems, but at least I know the circuit a lot better now!”

The Phillip Island enduro was won by the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X driven by Jim Pollicina and Ryan Simpson, with Stuart Kostera-Ian Tulloch second in another Evo X, and Nathan Morcom-Chaz Mostert third in a BMW 335i.