Liam Talbot and John Martin have charged the MEGA Racing Porsche 911 GT3-R to a hard earned second placing in the Australian Endurance Championship at Sydney Motorsport Park, in the process bringing themselves back into Championship calculations.
Starting from pole position, Talbot survived an early collision where another competitor closed down upon him in turn one and then set about establishing a big lead over the field.
A number of teams elected to place their Pro drivers on board early into the pitstop window, which promised to deliver an exciting finish at the end of 3.5 hours of racing combining Pro and Am drivers – and that is precisely what developed.
Talbot had a commanding lead over the closest cars with the race starting drivers on board, the finish would come down to strategy and the performance of Martin.
The Walkinshaw GT3 team executed the strategy on the MEGA Racing Porsche perfectly to hand the car from Talbot to Martin – as they did, a second Safety Car was triggered.
Martin settled into his rhythm before a third pitstop and fuel top up would allow him to charge home. This resulted in what he felt were a better set of Pirellis under his right foot.
Re-entering the fray, the former Le Mans 24 Hour LMP2 pole-sitter was some 70 seconds behind the race leader.
He showed guile and experience to deftly push his way through the cars in front of him and deal with the lapped traffic.
Getting past the third placed driver with some 14 laps to go – he was eight seconds behind the leader and closing.
The charge continued with little rubber left for Martin to push with, however he pressed on with the rear of the leader in his sights. With the Safety Cars, it became a time certain race, falling one lap short of the original 129-lap distance.
In the end, the margin between the victor and Martin was just 3.4 seconds.
After setting the pole position yesterday, it was a stunning strikeback from the MEGA Racing team to bring themselves back into the Championship hunt at the halfway point. The Australian Endurance Championship will now head to New Zealand for the final two rounds.
The next outing for Talbot and MEGA Racing will be at the Sandown 500 Supercars event where Talbot will aim to add the CAMS Australian GT Championship to his Bathurst 12 Hour crown in season 2017 and his Blancpain Endurance Series Championship from last year.
Liam Talbot Racing continues to enjoy the magnanimous support of Australia’s newest Petroleum company, MEGA Limited, WashIt Australia Mobile Truck Wash and good friends of Walkinshaw GT3 Morris Finance and Urban Maintenance Systems.
“The car was simply MEGA from the start, no issues at all. Right from the start, the tyres were on, the traction was mega and I sort of looked behind and wondered where the field went! I just chipped away at it – got through the Safety Car and skipped away again.
“At the end of the stint, I had to conserve tyres and fuel a bit, but the Walkinshaw GT3 guys did such a great job on the strategy call and we just did our absolute maximum.
“We’re not going to die wondering. We don’t have the most favourable pitstops, so we just have to make up for it by driving flat out from start to finish on track at every lap.
“Johnny set the tone for that and to be so close at the end was very exciting. He did such a good job at the end of it.”
“Nearly got him! Today was a full team effort – we were hurting a little at the end, but it certainly wouldn’t have been possible without Liam’s Mega first stint to pull a decent gap. That put us in good track position to hand over to me and then I could chase them down.
“It got super close at the end there, only a few seconds in it unfortunately I didn’t quite have enough.
“The Safety Car at the start I think hurt us a little bit if it had’ve gone flag to flag without the Safety Cars, I think we would have been right there!
“It’s all to play for in the Championship now – if we can remain consistent with no mistakes, we can be right there – it can and will go right to the last lap at the last round!”
2017 Australian GT Championship Calendar:
1. Mar 2 – 5 Clipsal 500, Adelaide, South Australia – 4th
2. Mar 23 – 26 Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Victoria – 3rd
3. May 5 – 7 Perth Super Sprint, Barbagallo, Western Australia – 1st
4. Jul 7 – 9 Townsville 400, Townsville, Queensland – 3rd
5. Sep 15 – 17 Sandown 500, Sandown Raceway, Victoria
2017 Australian Endurance Championship Calendar:
1. May 26 – 28 Phillip Island, Phillip Island, Victoria – 6th
2. Aug 18 – 20 Sydney Motorsport Park, Sydney Motorsport Park, NSW – 2nd
3. Oct 27 – 29 Hampton Downs, Hampton Downs, New Zealand
4. Nov 10 – 12 Highlands 501 Highlands Park, Cromwell, NZ
Further Sources of Information: