Australian GT: Round 6 Preview
This weekend marks the final round of the ultra competitive 2013 Australian GT Championship. Competing at the new Highlands Motorsports Park, GT3 team Trofeo Motorsport will once again be bringing out their American V8 beast. Returning to the team for this event, is former Ferrari Formula One driver Ivan Capelli. The Italian will be rejoining Bathurst team-mate Jim Manolios behind the wheel of the teams Corvette Z06.R. Local hero Greg Murphy was originally slated to drive the car at Highlands (as he had done at Bathurst during the season-opening Bathurst 12-Hour), but a late change has seen the Italian driver return to the wheel of the Corvette for the final.
“Highlands was always going to be a big event, and when there was a vacancy come up in the McLaren, we spoke to Greg and released him from the drive with us because of the history behind the McLaren marque,” Manolios revealed. “It’s their 50th anniversary, and Greg is arguably New Zealand’s favourite son, so it made sense, and I was keen to drive again with Ivan anyway so it worked out for all of us in the end.”
For the official tyre supplier of the Australian GT Championship, the final round is a huge logistical exercise for the Trofeo team, with two 40 foot containers of Pirelli tyres for the final round and the Highlands 101, together with all the associated technicians, not to mention the Trofeo Corvette and the crew to run and maintain the car. “Yes it’s a big exercise, but with the support of Gibson Freight and Tony [Quinn] and his team at Highlands Park, it has been a pretty seamless exercise to be honest,” Manolios admitted. “So much so that I will have the chance to drive and enjoy the racing whilst the team looks after the logistics of the weekend.”
For the Trofeo team the logistics are quite extensive, with almost 700 tyres and all the fitting equipment transported from the team’s Melbourne base, plus 21 staff on the ground to ensure that the process runs as seamlessly as it has all year. For Capelli, his return to the seat marks his second appearance in the Trofeo Corvette after starting the season alongside Murphy and Manolios at Bathurst.
“I’m looking forward to joining Jim in the Corvette again in New Zealand,” the former European Formula 3 and Formula 3000 champion agreed. “Bathurst was a tough event for us after the accident in qualifying, so it will be nice to have the chance to experience the car again at its best. “I have seen the New Zealand circuit on the internet and it looks very technical, but the facility looks fantastic, so I’m very much looking forward to my first laps of the circuit.”
The Manolios/Capelli combination will have their work cut out for them, with the duo contesting both the two 40-minute races scheduled for the final round of the Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli, as well as the three and a half hour ‘Highlands 101’. “We’re ready,” Manolios agreed. “The car has been almost completely rebuilt since Queensland Raceway, and we know it’s strong and consistent. “I visited the Highlands circuit just last week, and boy is it technical, we’ll be lucky to see sixth gear, and it will be very interesting to see not just the 20 cars in Australian GT, but the 40 cars in the 101, it’s going to be tight, but I think it will be one of the best race meetings of the year.
“The venue is beyond belief and a real credit to Tony, I’m sure this event will end up being as iconic as the Bathurst 12-Hour and a regular on the annual GT calendar. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Friday, 8 November
Practice #1 - 9:30am (20-minutes)
Practice #2 - 11:35am (30-minutes)
Qualifying - 2:00pm (40-minutes)
Race #1 - 3:45pm (40-minutes)
Saturday, 9 November
Warm-up - 9:25am (20-minutes)
Race #2 - 12:20pm (40-minutes)
Sunday, 10 November
Highlands 101 (Qualifying) - 9:25am (40-minutes)
Highlands 101 (Race) - 1:25pm (101-laps)