SEPARATE events at Mount Panorama and Phillip Island has seen Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour teams on track in a competitive sense across the weekend – for potentially the last time ahead of next February’s race.
BMW Team SRM and MARC Cars Australia were amongst the leading competitors at Mount Panorama’s Challenge Bathurst event, while Melbourne Performance Centre’s Audi Customer Sport Racing Australia outfit had a mixed day in the CUE Victorian Tourist Trophy for Sports Cars at Island Magic.
On the Mountain, Morgan Haber put the MARC Cars Australia BMW M6 GT3 quickest in the two-day ‘Lightning’ Super Sprint event, his 2m04.291s the fastest time of the entire weekend.
The all-star Russell Ingall / Mark Skaife / Tony Longhurst Vodafone / Castrol BMW Team SRM M6 went second fastest overall with a 2m05.717s. Though down to just the one car – due to the other being damaged in New Zealand – international import Marco Wittmann also gained his first laps of the circuit across the event.
Amongst others, MARC Cars Australia had their fleet of Mazda 3 and Ford Focus enduro racers on hand, several of their regular drivers and international import Tom Onslow-Cole all getting plenty of track time. Steven Grove ran competitively in his Porsche GT3 Cup Car.
The BMW entries return to the Mountain today (Monday) for a private test which will see more meaningful running.
Meanwhile, the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit played host to the annual Island Magic event, one that saw high drama in the final one-hour CUE Sports Car enduro for a Bathurst 12 Hour regular.
After his co-driver Garth Tander won the preliminary co-driver race, JAMEC-PEM Racing’s Steve McLaughlan was running in a strong position in the early stages of the Victorian Tourist Trophy Sports Car event – wrestling for the lead with Porsche driver Kane Rose on the seventh lap.
As the pair ran side-by-side out of the turn four harpin they made contact, sending McLaughlin’s Audi R8 into the tyre wall on the inside of Siberia.
The hefty impact saw the race red-flagged while McLaughlan was recovered, ultimately taken to Dandenong Hospital for scans.
He later posted on his Facebook page that a preliminary diagnosis has seen him suffer a fracture in his neck, with additional details to come. With his current-specification Audi R8 still on the way back from New Zealand’s Australian GT decider, McLaughlan was driving his previous-specification Audi at the Island.
The 12-Hour team sends their best wishes to Steve for a speedy recovery!
PHOTO: Rhys Vandersyde