Our attempts on a first win in the Australian GT Championship had to wait despite TFM dominating yet another event of the series on the streets of Townsville. In our first visit to the short, fast street circuit we topped practice and scored pole position yet again, continuing a perfect record in 2015.
With three pole positions in a row I proudly joined the late, great Allan Simonsen with an Australian GT category record. In doing so, the pole time of 1:12.1 seconds lowered the outright Townsville track record by 2/10ths of a second, capping off a pretty damn good start to the race weekend!
We carried a pit stop time of 2mins 9seconds into the first race. This was almost two full racing laps! We continually get questions from fans and followers about why this happens in Australian GT, so in as brief an explanation as possible:
Based on 12 driver seeding levels (Pro 1-6, Amateur 1-6) and your performance in qualifying, a compulsory pit stop time is determined. We carried the maximum penalty into the race, while those at the rear of the grid had up to 80 seconds less than us, sitting in the pit box. The purpose of this, in the perfect world, is to equalise Professional and Amateur drivers and give everyone a fair shot of winning the race.
The system worked well at Townsville, but what it doesn’t account for is Safety Car interventions, which ruined our races at both Adelaide and Phillip Island. And now, Townsville faced the same fate.
We gassed away from the field in race one, and I pulled close to ten seconds on 2nd place, and 27 seconds on the chasing pack. A safety car neutralised this, eliminating any advantage we had and after Graeme’s storming stint, we could only get ourselves back up to 7th.
We had another shot in race two but an early puncture during Graeme’s storming opening stint put us a lap down and the pair of us were only able to salvage points for 11th position, from a lowly 32nd.
We walked away from the weekend with a pretty dejected frame of mind but the pendulum of fate has to swing our way at some stage, and that may well be the next round at Sydney Motorsport Park on August 22-23.