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Category: Australian GT Championship

Klark QuinnKlark Quinn is off to a great start in the 2012 Australian GT Championship protected by Sargent Security, winning both races at the Adelaide Parklands circuit.

In fact, both victories were unexpected after Quinn and the V.I.P. Petfoods team had struggled to get his new Porsche GT3-R handling properly during practice and qualifying.

But skilful driving on a slippery rain-affected track in Saturday’s first race enabled him to take advantage of a slip-up between the two leaders, and improvements to the car overnight put him back on the pace for the second race.

RACE 1

From third starting position in the hour-long first race, which began late-afternoon on Saturday and finished in twilight, Quinn and second-fastest qualifier Mercedes SLS driver Peter Hackett quickly passed pole sitter Greg Crick at the rolling start.

While Crick’s Dodge Viper succumbed to mechanical problems shortly afterwards, a titanic battle between Quinn and Hackett ensued.

The two German cars swapped places repeatedly around the 3.2km concrete-walled street circuit, which was dry at the beginning but became treacherously slippery after light rain began to fall at the midway point.

Quinn held a narrow lead when the pair entered the pitlane for their compulsory pit stops, but he emerged behind Hackett thanks to a 10-second longer wait mandated by his superior starting position.

The fight continued until Danish professional racer Allan Simonsen, driving the second half of the race in Peter Edwards’ new Ferrari 458 Italia, swept past second-placed Quinn in the closing stages.

But two laps later Simonsen tangled with Hackett in an unsuccessful challenge for the lead, putting the Mercedes out of the race and costing the Ferrari any chance of victory.

Quinn cruised by the two stricken cars, and completed the final laps without incident.

He crossed the finish line 3.5 seconds ahead of Jordan Ormsby in a Porsche GT3 Cup, with the recovering Simonsen third.

“That was amazing!” Quinn said afterwards. “There wasn’t much rain – just enough to make the track damp in places, mainly in the corners for some reason.

“It made my car understeer even more than it had been on the dry track. It was sliding all over the place, but so was Peter’s!

“It was like neither of us wanted to lead, because we both wanted to see what the car in front was doing at every turn.

“Then I came around a corner and saw the Mercedes and Ferrari both parked!

“My car couldn’t match either of them for speed, but I’ll take the win under the circumstances!”

RACE 2

Quinn had to bide his time early in Sunday’s 30-minute race, while Simonsen pulled out an early lead with a succession of record-breaking laps in the potent Ferrari.

The V.I.P. Petfoods driver also had to wait patiently in the pits while James Brock, driving the second Mercedes SLS, leapfrogged him courtesy of another 10-second starting position handicap.

In the second half of the race, Quinn relentlessly reeled in Brock and race leader Edwards, who had taken over from Simonsen during the Ferrari’s pit stop.

He grabbed the lead at the restart after a Safety Car period, then cleared out to win comfortably.

Brock and Edwards squabbled over second place, which was resolved in Brock’s favour when the two made contact in the closing laps.

Edwards rejoined midfield, so third place went to Warren Luff, driving reigning Australian GT Champion Mark Eddy’s Audi R8.

Afterwards, Quinn was pleasantly surprised to have repeated his 2011 Adelaide winning double.

“I really wasn’t expecting to win this weekend, because the Porsche is brand new and we haven’t had a chance to get it sorted properly yet,” he said.

“It wasn’t handling well in practice and qualifying, and it still wasn’t right on Saturday, but we made some changes before today’s race that made it a lot better.”

It wasn’t a happy GT championship beginning for V.I.P. Petfoods’ other contender, Tony Quinn.

His new Ferrari 458 Italia was a scratching after Thursday’s first practice session after it suffered structural damage during a recovery from a minor accident.

He’d spun gently into a concrete wall near the end of the session, but instead of pulling the $500,000 Italian supercar directly backwards out of its predicament, the crash crew tried to pull it around sideways from the front.

The excessive strain broke a number of chassis welds, putting the car out of the race meeting on the spot.

“That was the worst race car recovery I’ve ever seen,” an annoyed Quinn said afterwards.

“The guys were in a big hurry to move the car, but the session was over so there was no rush.

“I was in the car at the time, so I shouted at them to stop when they started pulling it around because I could hear some awful noises coming from the front, but they took no notice.

“One of them told me they did the best they could – I wouldn’t want them moving a 20 year-old Magna, let alone an expensive racing car.

“The Ferrari only had minor body damage that we at least could have fixed, even if it didn’t look brand new.

“Once the chassis broke, that was it for the weekend.

“It was a big disappointment, not only for me but for Ferrari fans who missed out on seeing a second 458 Italia at the meeting.”

Quinn said that the car would be going again by the second round of the GT Championship, at Phillip Island on May 25-27.

Natrad Lambo“When this car is fully developed, it will be a race winner.”

That’s the word from Natrad Racing driver Bryce Washington following the Australian racing debut of his brand new Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 in this weekend’s second round of the Australian GT Championship.

At his home event, the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide, 22-year-old Washington made the debut of the 535hp Lamborghini and – despite a number of teething problems featuring the vehicle’s electrics and gearshift mechanism – was buoyed by the exoticar’s potential.

In qualifying Bryce lapped within a second of pole position, his time of 1m25.9928s good enough for third place on the grid.

The car ran strongly for the first few laps of the second race, before slowing due to a number of gear shifting issues that hindered the performance – Washington eventually coming across the line in 14th position with a lot of work ahead of him for race two.

That second race proved the fighting qualities of both car and driver, Bryce making quick work of the field to scythe his way through to third position well before the end of the race.

Washington also scored third in the final race of the weekend this morning and secured a top five round result.

After a strong performance (driving his old Porsche GT3) in the opening round of the championship, Washington is now ideally poised to make a run on the title he won in 2005.

Points’ leader Alan Simonsen is unlikely to return to the series this year due to international racing commitments.

“It was all just niggling technical problems that we had this weekend,” Washington said following the cars’ debut performance.

“There are a couple of problems we found out relating to the gearbox and also to the fuel system, but we managed to work through them.

“This weekend was really a learning experience for the team and I, so to come away with a couple of podium finishes is a good result.

“The car is simply phenomenal to drive. It’s so aero dependant it makes turn 8 (The high speed sweeper) amazing and very, very fast. Once we work out all its quirks it is going to be a very good car,” he said.

”I can’t wait to get to Bathurst – it should be incredible around there.”

Washington also took his ADRAD Racing Porsche GT3 Cup Car to a strong performance in the opening round of the Carrera Cup championship.

Now driving with the ultra successful Paul Cruickshank racing organisation, Washington finished inside the top ten to gain a solid haul of championship points for his campaign in the all-Porsche series.

Washington’s Natrad-supported Lamborghini team will continue to develop the car before the next round of the Australian GT Championship, set to be held at the Bathurst International Motor Festival over the Easter Long Weekend.

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.

Bryce Washington and Greg Crick have staged an almighty battle for outright honors in this weekend’s fifth round of the 2006 Speed Energy Drink Australian GT Championship at Mallala Raceway.

The pair – the two top contenders in the championship battle since the opening round – traded race wins, fastest laps and even a side-by-side finish in a ferociously competitive round at the 2.6km South Australian circuit today, Washington scoring his second round victory of the season after taking two of the three races.

Washington convincingly won this morning’s opening 20-lap encounter, before a late race flourish from Crick in the second saw the pair go side by side to the line in a thrilling finish. The final margin was .0161s after Crick was forced to avoid a lapped car as the two crossed the line.

A fifth place finish on rapidly diminishing rubber in the third race was enough to give the local driver overall honors by just four points.

“I had the guys on the radio during the final race saying ‘don’t loose any more positions’!” Washington said.

“The Tyres were gone and I was also having dramas selecting gears which is why a couple of cars were able to pass me coming onto the start finish straight. I dropped to sixth but when Koundouris got a black flag I got back into fifth place and that was enough.

“It’s been a really good weekend and it’s nice to take home the first place trophy.” He said.

Championship leader Crick had a competitive day, biding his time early in each of today’s races before an all out attack on Washington. The Viper then jumped to the lead off the start in the third race, eventually winning by three seconds and doing enough to secure second overall.

“If I had been on the money Friday I think we would have had a better chance today,” Crick said.

“I was really happy with the car, it was very good. We’ve finally found a rear tyre that can last the entire race which meant we were able to challenge strongly all day today.

“We made some changes to the suspension between each race and it kept getting better and better. It’s been a good weekend and we haven’t lost too many points in the series.” He said.

Third overall was David Wall, who took his Porsche RSR to second, fifth and fourth-place results in the three races, respectively.

An off in the final race after a coming together with James Koundouris saw the young New South Wales based driver charge back through the field to narrowly miss the race podium.

“We made some changes overnight because the car wasn’t as fast as we would’ve liked in qualifying,” he explained.

Theo Koundouris lead home the Canberra-based duo this weekend, Brother James in the wars in the second race after being served with a drive through penalty thanks to a ‘driving incident’ that saw him come into contact with Washington, and then Wall in the northern hairpin.

Ferrari driver David Stevens survived a 225kph spin in the second race to finish fifth overall, once again proving the potential of the still-wingless Ferrari F430 Challenge.

Stevens’ off came at the high speed kink at Mallala today, the car spinning at high speed before the Brennan IT Driver was able to recover to an eventual sixth for the race.

“I was pulling out to pass a lapped car and because the car still doesn’t have the aero it got loose and around I went,” said Stevens.

“The car is very quick – If I can keep it on the island for an entire race I think it will be even better!” he smiled.

Stevens had some reward for his weekend’s efforts – second in the final race and a new Mallala Lap record for the category, the new benchmark of 1m09.7070 set in the opening race.

Local driver Graeme Cook (Container Solutions Porsche GT3 Cup Car) used his home circuit knowledge to his full advantage this weekend to score 7th overall today, beating Sven Burchartz (M+K / Sonic Porsche GT3 Cup Car) by a solitary point. Shaun Juniper and Max Twigg completed the round top ten.

Greg Crick continues to lead the Speed Energy Drink Australian GT Championship following today’s fifth round, leading Washington 431 – 382 points as the series heads to its next scheduled round at Phillip Island in late August.

For more information head to www.gtchampionship.com.au

Bryce WashingtonSouth Australia’s Bryce Washington has taken pole position for tomorrow’s fifth round of the 2006 Speed Energy Drink Australian GT Championship following a stunning performance in today’s qualifying session at Mallala Raceway.

The 22-year-old defending series champion surprised even himself to set a benchmark time of 1m09.1454 late in the 20-minute session to snatch his second pole of the season and narrow the lead to Championship leader Greg Crick by a valuable three points.

“To be honest I really don’t know where the time came from, we’ve never been under a 1m09.9 here before this weekend,” Washington said.

“The key today was finding space on the track to put in a good lap. What was really great was that I was able to set the quick times immediately following a slow lap – that really helped.

“The car was fantastic and I think we have a good chance to peg back Greg in the championship standings if we get a good result tomorrow.”

A similarly strong performance today came from fellow Porsche GT3 Cup Car driver James Koundouris, who logged a 1m09.6340 to be well within striking distance of the leader for tomorrow’s opening 20-lap race.

Koundouris echoed Washington’s comments regarding traffic.

“I just couldn’t get a clear lap,” he explained.

“I thought that a 9-6 would have been about the benchmark so for Bryce to do what he did was awesome. As a driver you are never happy with second place but today was good. My hot lap had a couple of mistakes in it so there is certainly room for improvement.”

Porsche driver David Wall and point’s leader Greg Crick will complete the top four on tomorrow’s grid, Wall’s result coming despite holding first place for some time in the session.

Crick battled with a circuit not friendly towards his heavy Viper today, the experienced Tasmanian philosophical about his performances.

“Race day is another day. I like getting pole position but you can’t always have it,” he said.

“The problem we are having is slowing the car and putting the power down out of the corners. This circuit doesn’t have any of the nice flowing stuff that the car likes which certainly isn’t helping us.

“It’s great that it’s so competitive – I’m looking forward to getting stuck into it tomorrow in the races for a bit of competition.”

Ferrari driver David Stevens and Theo Koundouris made up the third row of the grid, whilst Max Twigg and Graeme Cook posted similarly strong performances to score 7th and 8th respectively. Matthew Turnbull and Ross Lilley rounded out the top ten.

Urban Arrangements supported driver Peter Lucas continued his development of his Lotus Elise GT3 today, the supercharged Honda-powered British Sportscar taking significant chunks of time out of his previous best laps to be closer to the front – at least in lap times if not overall position – than ever before.

“I said to the guy’s earlier that we improved by five seconds but we were still second last,” Lucas smiled this afternoon.

“We are trying to get the lotus’ key traits – power down and handling balance – back into it as they seem to be missing at the moment. It’s got plenty of power and as a result there is plenty of wheelspin but its good fun to drive.”

Tomorrows fifth round of the Speed Energy Drink Australian GT Championship will be contested over three, 20-lap races at Mallala tomorrow, as part of the CAMS Nationals meeting this weekend.

For more information head to www.gtchampionship.com.au

Bryce WashingtonSouth Australia’s Bryce Washington lead’s the way at Mallala raceway following opening practice for this weekend’s fifth round of the 2006 Speed Energy Drink Australian GT Championship.

Washington, driving his ADRAD Racing Porsche GT3 Cup Car, set a best time of 1m10.59 in the second session today to top a strong field including cars from Porsche, Ferrari, Dodge and Lotus.

After a tough round at Phillip Island recently, Washington conducted an engine change on his Porsche between events and heads into his hometown event looking to make up over 50 points on current championship leader Greg Crick, who was 7th today.

“We’ll take that for this stage in the weekend,” Washington said this afternoon.

“The car is good. I’ve done a few laps around here in the past so it will be good to race here in this car. Cricky didn’t do too many laps but I think we will be strong here.”

Second overall was the Dare Coffee Shots Porsche GT3 Cup Car of James Koundouris, the Canberra-based driver making it a Porsche 1-2 at the top of the charts today after posting a time just three tenths behind Washington.

James’ brother Theo survived an early morning spin to post the sixth fastest time today, both looking strong in their bid to break through for an elusive first round win this weekend.

Ferrari F430 driver David Stevens underlined the strength of his new car by posting third-fastest time today, the New South Welshman just one 10th behind James Koundouris with a 1m10.80 second time.

“The car was really good,” enthused Stevens.

“It’s got a heap of straight line speed and it’s great under brakes. This is a really good circuit and I think it suits the car.”

Victorian Max Twigg continued his impressive rise towards the top of Australian GT Racing by posting the fourth quickest lap of the day, his best time of 1m11.03s well within striking distance of the leaders.

“Absolutely no complaints whatsoever,” said Twigg.

“We have a new gearbox and some other new parts in the car since Phillip Island and it’s just about perfect to drive. This is about the strongest we’ve been in relation to the other cars. I just need to make sure I get the most out of qualifying tomorrow which will be a key factor towards us having a good weekend.”

David Wall (5th), Crick (7th), John Teulan (8th) and local driver Graeme Cook completed the top runners today, less than two seconds covering the top ten in this early stage of the weekend.

Two further practice sessions and a 20-minute qualifying session will be held tomorrow, before three 20-lap races Sunday to conclude the final sprint race event of the year.

The Speed Energy Drink Australian GT Championship is proudly supported by Speed Energy Drink, Drivetravel.com, Stand 21 Race wear and Michelin Tyres.

For more information head to www.gtchampionship.com.au

Allan SimonsenA completely unpredictable day at Victoria’s Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit has seen Allan Simonsen become the first multiple round winner of the 2006 Speed Energy Drink Australian GT Championship.

Three different drivers scored race wins in this weekend’s fourth championship round, three races held in difficult and changeable wet / dry conditions and producing some scintillating racing amongst a competitive field.

Simonsen, series stalwart John Teulan and D’Arcy Russell shared the wins today, Russell tasting his first success since Phillip Island last August, whilst Teulan’s win in race two was his first ever in Australian GT Racing after five years of trying.

The day’s drama started early, defending champion Bryce Washington’s ADRAD Racing Porsche needing a replacement engine following a failure at the end of Saturday’s qualifying session.

A replacement power plant was sourced from Porsche Australia’s office in Melbourne, the team working right through the night to have the car race-ready by approximately 4am Sunday morning to ensure the South Australian’s title hopes remained alive.

Simonsen scored a win, fifth and second-place results respectively today to win the round; his race two result thanks to a drive through penalty after the Danish superstar was judged to have jumped the re-start following a safety car period.

The locally-based Ferrari led a majority of the final race before being overhauled by the Dodge Viper GTS ACR of D’Arcy Russell with a few laps remaining.

“It is satisfying to come back and win,” Simonsen said following the third race today.

“Conditions were very tricky today because it was changing between being wet and dry for a lot of the day. I drove to the conditions and what the car was capable of in its state this weekend so it was good to get this result.”

Teulan’s win in race two came on the Australian debut of the Ferrari F430 Challenge, the Queenslander leading home Stuart Kostera (driving Maher Algadri’s Porsche GT3 Cup Car) following a close race long duel.

Teulan had also been under pressure from Championship leader Greg Crick, who was holding second until a final lap spin cost him a podium finish.

“It’s just fantastic, really brilliant,” Teulan enthused.

“I actually thought that I was second and that Allan was miles down the road until well after the race. Considering that the car is missing the GT3 Aerodynamics, and we haven’t been able to adjust the suspension this weekend it is an awesome result.

“The car was fantastic in the rain and I’m over the moon!” he said.

It was a strong weekend for the brand new Ferrari’s, David Stevens taking his similar F430 to some equally strong performances today, his best result coming in the second race when he charged his way through the pack to finish third.

“The car is just so strong and I’m ecstatic with the way it’s performed this weekend,” the Brennan IT supported driver said.

“I’m really excited about it’s potential and to come out of the box like we have today is just brilliant. It’ll be even better with the new body kit and some more development.”

D’Arcy Russell’s win in the third race came after a storming drive from the back of the grid, Fuel pick up problems leaving the local’s Viper stranded in the second race today.

Russell stormed to an eight-second win and has provisionally become the sixth different race winner from eleven races held to date.

Although the final results of the final race are dependent on the outcome of a stewards hearing to be held at Mallala next month, Russell was delighted to come through with the win.

“I passed I don’t know how many cars so I’m delighted, really delighted,” he said.

“I couldn’t hear the crew on the radio properly so I wasn’t sure where I was running, so I just kept at it – to come away with a race win is great.”

Porsche ace James Koundouris consolidated his position as a top three regular this season with a consistent performance this weekend, a competitive performance notching him two thirds and a fourth in the three races respectively.

Impressively, Koundouris improved on his third overall performance he scored two weeks ago at Oran Park by scoring second overall this weekend.

Greg Crick was able to build his championship lead despite dramas this weekend, uncharacteristic spins in the second and third races relegating him to equal fourth for the round this weekend in his Speed Energy Drink supported Dodge Viper.

His cause was aided by a tough weekend for Washington, who’s Porsche was found to be a mere 3kg underweight, and then excluded, following the first race – thought to be a byproduct of the new engine installation.

Bryce scored consistent sixth and seventh-placed finishes in the final two races to keep his points tally ticking over.

Stuart Kostera impressed in his Porsche GT3, tying with Crick for fourth overall in his championship debut thanks to a trio of strong performances, whilst local Sven Burchartz stormed to fourth in the final race – and a top eight round result – in his similar Porsche.

The next round of the championship will be held at Mallala Raceway, near Adelaide, in a month’s time.

For more information about the Speed Energy Drink Australian GT Championship please visit www.gtchampionship.com.au

Championship Points following Round 4 of 8.
1. Greg Crick 333
2. Bryce Washington 280
3. James Koundouris 254
4. John Teulan 216
5. Allan Simonsen 200

Round Results -Round 4, Phillip Island
(Please note, points and results are provisional at this time)

1. Allan Simonsen (Ferrari) 96
2. James Koundouris (Porsche) 81
3. John Teulan (Ferrari) 76
4. Greg Crick (Viper) 71
5. Stuart Kostera (Porsche) 71

Photo by Klynsmith Photo

Allan SimonsenAllan Simonsen has scored an emphatic pole position following today’s 20-minute qualifying session for round four of the 2006 Speed Energy Drink Australian GT Championship at Phillip Island.

The Dane needed only three laps to bank a benchmark time of 1m35.5093s to score pole position, just a tenth ahead of current Championship leader Greg Crick and a mere two tenths up on Porsche ace Bryce Washington, leaving three different manufacturers inside an intensely competitive top three.

Simonsen’s pole was the first for Ferrari this season, the Italian manufacturer becoming the third different marque to take top spot in qualifying this year following earlier successes for Porsche and Dodge.

“We did only what we needed to do,” said Simonsen.

“The lap I did was good enough to put me in front which was really good. You can’t ask for any more than that.”

Crick took his Speed Energy Drink-supported Dodge Viper GTS ACR to second position, conserving his Tyres early in the day before banking a competitive 1m35.62s lap to once again sit on the front row of the grid.

The important fact for the Tasmanian driver was that he will start tomorrow’s opening race ahead of defending champion Bryce Washington – his closest rival for the championship to date.

Washington held provisional pole position for a majority of today’s 20-minute qualifying run, only bumped off the top spot by Simonsen and then Crick with less than five minutes remaining in the session.

“We banked a time early and then went to the pits to wait and see what the others could do,” the South Australian Porsche GT3 Cup Car driver said.

“It worked for us at Oran Park (where he scored Pole Position) but unfortunately the Ferrari and Crick were able to get out and bump us back to the second row. The car is pretty good so we’ll just have to wait and see how it goes in the racing tomorrow.”

Canberra-based driver James Koundouris (Dare Coffee Shots Porsche GT3 Cup Car) will start fourth tomorrow, whilst David Wall took his Kerrick Industrial supported Porsche GT3 RSR to fifth.

An impressive performance today was produced by West Australian driver Stuart Kostera – who has taken over the driving duties of the Porsche regularly steered by Maher Algadri.

Kostera – a former Australian Formula Ford race winner – improved consistently throughout today’s session and looks to be a force tomorrow.

An impressive debut came from the Ferrari F430 Challenge of David Stevens, the New South Welshman taking his Brennan IT supported car to a strong eighth place result today on the cars debut.

Stevens – who has plenty of experience racing Porsches – banked a 1m37.94s lap today signaling that the awesome new Ferrari has a significant amount of potential ready to be unleashed on the Australian GT Championship field.

“The car is great and it’s really good to have it on track,” Stevens enthused following qualifying.

“It’s still running in Challenge specifications so it doesn’t have nearly as much downforce compared to what I’m used to with the old Porsche.

“It was a bit hairy going over Lukey Heights – moving all over the road – so when we get the GT3 aero kit on the car it will be awesome.

“Yesterday was the first time, really, that I’ve had a good look at the car so to be eighth on debut is fantastic!” he enthused.

John Teulan – also running a brand new F430 Challenge – posted 11th best time today, just half a second off Stevens’ best.

Viper driver D’Arcy Russell and fellow local driver Max Twigg completed today’s competitive top ten.

Failing to make the qualifying session today was the Porsche of Paul Tresidder, who had a large shunt coming onto the high-speed start finish straight in the second practice session.

The New South Wales-based driver dropped a wheel off the circuit, the soft grass causing the car to spray across the circuit and into the pit straight wall.

The Porsche sustained severe damage to both the front and rear, the driver emerging unscathed despite the ferocity of the shunt.

Tomorrow’s fourth round of the 2006 Speed Energy Drink Australian GT Championship will mark the half way point of the season, the field looking to find the fourth different winner from four rounds this season.

Three races will be held tomorrow, each 12 laps in duration.

For more information please visit www.gtchampionship.com.au

Top Times – Qualifying

1. Allan Simonsen (Ferrari F360 GT) 1m35.5093

2. Greg Crick (Dodge Viper GTS ACR) 1m35.6222

3. Bryce Washington (Porsche GT3 Cup Car) 1m35.7806

4. James Koundouris (Porsche GT3 Cup Car) 1m36.6863

5. David Wall (Porsche GT3 RSR) 1m37.0757

6. Stuart Kostera (Porsche GT3 Cup Car) 1m37.4721

7. John Kaias (Porsche GT3 Cup Car) 1m37.5686

8. David Stevens (Ferrari F430 Challenge) 1m37.9467

9. D’Arcy Russell (Dodge Viper GTS ACR) 1m38.2488

10. Max Twigg (Porsche GT3 Cup Car) 1m38.5007

After six years of trials and tribulations – and some success, Queenslander Ian Palmer has today confirmed that he has retired his popular Brabham Honda NSX from competition in the Speed Energy Drink Australian GT Championship – at least for this weekend.

That was the news following Friday’s opening practice for the fourth round of the 2006 Speed Energy Drink Australian GT Championship at Phillip Island Raceway.

Palmer, this year inducted as an Australian GT Championship Platinum driver thanks to his support of the championship in its formative stages, will instead compete this weekend’s fourth championship round in a Porsche GT3 – last driven by John Kaias.

The car finished second in the Australian Porsche Drivers Challenge last season.

This weekend will mark just the second time Palmer has driven something other than his popular Honda in Australian GT-style racing, having driven a Holden Monaro in a limited Nations Cup campaign in 2003.

“I’ve become a works driver this weekend,” Palmer grinned today, who will have the experienced Fitzgerald Racing team running his car this weekend as a teammate to John Kaias.

“It’s so much different to what I’m used to – I just rock up and jump in, it’s great!”

“The only problem is that I’ve gone from the big and burly Honda into a
hairdresser’s car,” he joked.

“It’s a lot different to drive – today was more about learning the ropes and coming to grips with the car. You have to be a lot smoother with this, whereas you needed to be a lot more aggressive with the Honda.”

Palmer wasn’t the only one becoming accustomed to new machinery this weekend, David Stevens and John Teulan both making the Australian debut of the Ferrari F430 Challenge at the 4.45km Island circuit today.

Both cars completed solid runs today with both teams expecting constant
improvement over the course of the weekend.

The battle for outright honors this weekend is set to be the major feature of the event, a number of drivers looking to become the fourth different winner from four rounds this season.

So far Allan Simonsen (Ferrari), Greg Crick (Viper) and Bryce Washington
(Porsche) have scored race victories this season, James Koundouris, David Wall and D’Arcy Russell looking to be the most likely contenders to add their name
to the 2006 winners list.

Koundouris (Dare Coffee Shots / Supabarn Supermarkets Porsche GT3 Cup) is
coming off the back of his best ever round finish at Oran Park last weekend, whilst Russell won his first ever race at Phillip Island last season and has posted competitive outings this season.

Allan Simonsen will make his return to the championship this weekend after
missing two rounds, Car owner Ted Huglin confirming that the Danish superstar will take the wheel of the consolidated Chemical Company Ferrari F360GT once again.

Simonsen is coming off the back of an outstanding opening round of the 2006 FIA GT3 Championship, scoring a win and a second place-finish at Silverstone – driving a Ferrari – two weeks ago.

This weekend’s round marks the half way point of the 2006 Championship, Greg Crick leading Bryce Washington in a close battle for the series lead.

The round will be decided over the course of three races on Sunday this weekend.