Sandown Thriller expected for GT Championship Finale
Two Vodka O Australian GT Championships will come down to the wire next weekend as GT veterans Mark Eddy and Klark Quinn battle it out for 2011 Championship Class honors, while Peter Boylan and Tim Poulton duke it out for the Challenge Class victory.
With only 46 points separating Eddy from Quinn, and no other competitor mathematically capable of winning the Championship, Eddy said all his efforts would be focused on his Audi R8 LMS finishing very close or preferably ahead of the Quinn Mosler MT900 GT3.
"Next weekend is going to be very tense because we saw at Bathurst how fast and aggressive Klark can be when he's put under the blow torch, so I'm expecting nothing less when we head to Sandown," he said.
"There have been quite a few Championship lead changes this year, but we are in the right place at the right time, and I know the Melbourne Performance Center guys and my partners at Penfold Audi Sport are focused on the job, so we are prepared and will give it the best shot."
Quinn, who was the Championship leader halfway through the season, said he was looking forward to Sandown and pushing Eddy all the way.
" For me to be a chance, Mark will have to have some kind of issue, and of course I would never wish that on anyone, but, I will be pushing like crazy to make sure that if there is any opportunity, I'm in a position to capitalise on it," he said.
"I love the Sandown circuit, and last year my father had a very competitive run in the Mosler, so I'm confident in the right conditions we will be where we need to be to give the Championship a nudge."
Although mathematically out of the running for the Championship win, Greg Crick in his "JEEP" Dodge Viper could be in a position to clinch second, but something drastic would have to happen to Quinn or Eddy as he currently sits 77 points behind the V.I.P. Petfoods Mosler.
Challenge Class leader Peter Boylan will also be under immense Championship pressure after an accident with Greg Crick at Bathurst resulted in him collecting no points for the round, opening the door to Lotus Exige pilot Tim Poulton.
"I've had a great run all year but my bad luck came with a vengeance at Bathurst, which has made me really vulnerable heading into the final round," said Boylan.
"I recently ran my Porsche at Sandown during the Shannons Nationals round, we got some good data and a great setup, so I'm confident heading into next weekend, but Tim is a great driver and he will be tough to beat."
Poulton, who drives for Bundaberg Rum and sits just 13 points behind Boylan, has suffered a torrid year with engine failures and unexpected DNF's and said he was quite frankly surprised to still be in the hunt for the Championship.
"To be honest, this year has not been our best, but with Pete's issue at Bathurst, it's created an opportunity and I am fired up to push him all the way to the flag," he said.
"Sandown should suit our car, especially the tight twisty bits at the end of the straights, so what we lack in straight line grunt will be made up at turn two, three and four and down into Dandenong Corner."
"Challenge Class is a great place to race these cars, and I think having a Championship going down to wire really emphasises how close the class can be and how much fun you can have racing in it."
Next weekend will mark the end of the Australian GT Championship in its current form, with full European GT3 rules being implemented for the 2012 season.
Category Administrator Craig Nayda said that while the category now has a solid history, its 2012 which will propel it to the next level."
"The decision to go to full Euro GT3 rules has been made and it's clearly resonated with the competitor base because we are seeing so many new cars coming into the country."
"As we announced last week there will be a 2nd Mercedes Benz SLS AMG, Kevin Weeks has unveiled his Ford GT40, the Ferrari 458 GT3 has arrived at Maranello Motorsport as has their new Lamborghini LP600, a couple of new Audi R8 LMS GT3 cars have been ordered, plus we are in talks with other manufacturers about more cars as well, so the future for Australian GT racing is VERY bright."
The final round of the Vodka O Australian GT Championship will feature two half hour races, one on Saturday and one on Sunday as part of the Norton 360 Sandown Challenge, November 18-20.
Eddy and Quinn, Boylan and Poulton, 2 Championships, 4 drivers with 4 different manufacturers and with a lot to lose and gain on a circuit that promotes close racing and has good passing opportunities ..... Bring it on.
The Vodka O Australian GT Championship is a National motor racing series pitting some of the world's most exotic and exciting race cars against each other in a mix of sprint and endurance race formats on some of Australia's most challenging circuits including Mt Panorama Bathurst, the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit and the Adelaide Parklands street circuit for the Clipsal 500
Vodka O Australian GT Championship Points Top 5 after round 6
1. Mark Eddy 8.Penfold Audi Sport Audi R8 LMS 6712. Klark Quinn 12.V.I.P. Petfoods Mosler MT900 6253. Greg Crick 55. JEEP Dodge Viper GT3 5484. Ash Samadi 22. Rocking Angel/Procon Mosler MT900 4655. Peter Hackett 63. Team Erebus Racing Mercedes Benz SLS AMG 464
Vodka O Australian GT Challenge Class Championship Leader
1. Peter Boylan 21. Boylan Group Porsche GT3 Cup Car 470