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Category: Australian Production Car Endurance Championship

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.

Nathan MorcomAnother sterling performance by Morcom Motorsport in the opening round of the 2012 Australian Production Car Endurance Championship at Phillip Island has earned the NSW team its fourth class win in the series on the trot.

The APCEC comprises the two six-hour rounds of the Australian Manufacturers’ Championship at Phillip Island in Victoria, and Eastern Creek Raceway in NSW.

Morcom Motorsport’s Direct Plasterboard Outlet-Rondo BMW 335i has now won the 2WD High Performance class in the past two APCEC races at both circuits.

The car was driven to its latest victory by Nathan Morcom and Chaz Mostert, who finished the six-hour marathon four laps ahead of the next Class B entry. They placed third overall behind the Class A Mitsubishi Lancer Evo Xs of Jim Pollicina-Ryan Simpson, and second placegetters Stuart-Kostera-Ian Tulloch.

In the early laps, a repeat of their upset outright win in last year’s final APCEC round at Eastern Creek looked to be on the cards when Mostert took the fight right up to the leading Evos.

But the pace started to overheat the BMW’s rear tyres, forcing Mostert to slow enough to make the rubber last until his scheduled fuel stop.

Unlike at Eastern Creek, when the Class A cars all failed to retain their qualifying speed advantage over the Class B BMW for the full six hours, this time two of them went the distance without major problems.

At the chequered flag, Morcom and Mostert had completed 189 laps of the 4.5km Victorian circuit, three fewer than the outright eventual winners.

Morcom Motorsport owner Barry Morcom couldn’t fault his team’s performance.

“The Direct Plasterboard Outlet-Rondo BMW didn’t miss a beat all weekend, both boys drove quickly and consistently, and our pit work was fine,” he said.

“Our strategy was to try to put pressure on the Evos. They’re quicker than our car, but their weakness has always been reliability.

“It’s a big ask for a 2WD car to beat the AWDs, though. We have to drive more carefully to keep the rear tyres alive for a whole stint, and our longer fuel range (Production Touring rules allow the BMW to carry 10 litres more than the Evo and Sti) isn’t enough to make up for the speed difference over six hours. Twelve hours maybe …

Nathan Morcom described his two driving stints as uneventful, except for the latter stages.

“There was a vibration on the right side early in my second stint, so I knocked a few seconds off my lap times to make sure we kept third place to the finish,” he said.

“There was no chance of catching the Evos ahead unless they had trouble, and the next car was too far behind to be a threat.”

Chaz Mostert echoed Nathan’s comments, adding that his top priority was to stick to the Morcom Motorsport team’s race strategy.

“It was mainly a matter of managing our fuel and tyres,” he said. “For the first few laps I thought there might be a chance to run with the Evos, but they were too quick – and this time two of them didn’t have any real problems during the race.”

With this year’s second APCEC round at Eastern Creek not until November, Morcom and Mostert will return to their regular racing programs in the meantime.

Morcom’s next races are scheduled on May 12-13 in the F2000 Championship Series round at Road Atlanta in the USA, and Mostert will drive next weekend in the V8 Supercars Development Series round at Barbagallo Raceway in WA.