2018 CAMS Australian GT Championship
Sandown International Raceway, Victoria [Sprint]
11-13 May, 2018
Melbourne’s M-Motorsport have expanded their operations ahead of the third event on the 2018 CAMS Australian GT calendar, the Reiter Engineering supported team fielding a new-look driver lineup with the addition of two new faces..
Justin McMillan has stepped down from driving duties after a fantastic run at The Bend Motorsport Park, where he and team-mate Glen Wood claimed the top spot and McMillan the GT4 championship points lead in the mighty Interlloy KTM X-Bow GT4, the M-Motorsport team-boss explaining that work commitments and strong interest in the new GT4 category prompted the move.
“What better way to ‘retire’ than as the championship points leader,” McMillan quipped.
“Look, the interest in the KTM X-Bow has been strong since we first unveiled the car at Bathurst last year, and a group of new drivers coupled with a lack of seats made my decision for me. I still enjoy racing, but from a business perspective, I’m also enjoying the success of the team, so am happy to take a backward step for the time being.”
McMillan’s seat will be taken on by new GT recruit Vince Tesoriero who will bring the support of Forum Group with him for his GT4 debut, whilst former Australian GT Trophy champion Dean Koutsoumidis will make a welcome return to the championship in a Lamborghini Gallardo R-EX GT3 alongside former race winner (in a Reiter-built R-EX), Glen Wood.
The two entries will also be joined by David Crampton and Trent Harrison, the Vantage Freight/QUBE drivers looking to improve on their solid podium performance in South Australia where they emerged fifth in championship points, the pair now in the box seat to go after the championship points lead on a circuit they both know well.
“I’m a huge fan of Sandown, and finished on the podium there twice last year in my Radical,” Crampton admitted. “It’s a big commitment track where you can make up some good ground across the top, but of course there are two drag-strip style long straights which will hurt the turbo-charged two-litre a little, but we’ll see, we showed good pace at The Bend and with the three shorter races and the potential of wet weather, anything is possible.”
For Trent Harrison, the experienced campaigner admits he’s still coming to grips with the KTM after just two race events in the car, but The Bend experience showed he was capable of matching the pace of ‘team-leader’ Wood, and he’s looking to put that performance to good use.
“Over the final stint at The Bend I was matching Glen for speed, which was what I was hoping to achieve when I started the year at Bathurst,” he explained. “It’s a different style of car to that which I’ve been used to, whether open-wheelers or saloon cars, it just takes time to get your head around it, and now that looks to be sorted, the big thing will be getting Dave [Crampton] up to speed so that we can have a good crack at the title!
“Dave was great at The Bend, his performance across the weekend improved to the point where you couldn’t wipe the smile from his face, and that’s what it’s about as much as anything, but he’s a good student of the sport and has a strong desire to improve, and from what I saw in South Australia, it won’t take him long before he’s right there with me, so I think we’re as good a threat for the title as anyone!”
The #50 team goes into Sandown with their South Australian experience behind them, however new M-Motorsport recruit Vince Tesoriero will take over the reigns of the race winning #48 entry for his maiden event in Australian GT, and the life-long race fan couldn’t be happier.
Having strong family ties to motorsport, Tesoriero found himself with an opportunity to test an M-Motorsport KTM through his association with rising open-wheel star Dylan Young, testing the car at Winton Motor Raceway ahead of his Sandown debut.
Whilst he takes over the points-leading GT4 X-Bow, Tesoriero will wear a new look with the support of the Forum Group, the #48 KTM resplendent in their corporate colours, adding another new element to the Australian GT field for the team’s local round.
For Tesoriero Sandown will present his first chance to join the ranks of Australia’s leading GT category, however for fellow Victorian Dean Koutsoumidis, his addition to the #49 M-Motorsport Gallarado R-EX is more of a home-coming, the experienced local driver a past champion in Australian GT in a Gallardo LP520, however in recent years he has been focused on prototype competition around Asia, predominantly in LMP2 and LMP3 equipment.
For Sandown, Koutsoumidis returns to Australian GT alongside M-Motorsport’s resident ‘hot-shot’ Glen Wood, the pair sharing the #49 Exedra Motorsport/JC Classic CAR Restorations R-EX for the three 40-minute races across the weekend.
“I have to say it’s nice not to have to travel 12 hours to a race meeting for a change, and to be back on home turf with family and friends around,” Koutsoumidis admitted.
“I’ve been considering a return to GT competition for a while but wanted to join a team that could allow me to just focus on being a driver, and not all the sundries that are involved with running a team like I’d done in the past. I knew Justin, and I knew the team, and to be honest, after my past experiences with the Lamborghini in Trophy class, I felt I knew the car and was comfortable in it, so it was all very much a natural fit.”
Ahead of his Australian GT return, Koutsoumidis joined the team at Winton Motor Raceway to get some laps behind the wheel of the R-EX, impressing team-boss Justin McMillan immediately with his pace.
“Dean has done a lot of miles in endurance racing in past years, at a lot of different circuits, and that experience has clearly paid off as he was very quick, especially compared to Glen who traditionally is our benchmark, so I think the two of them could surprise a few people this weekend.”
The Sandown round gets underway on Friday with just a single practice session ahead of qualifying and the first of the three races on Saturday, followed by the second and third 40-minute races on Sunday.
Sunday’s race action will be streamed live via the Shannons Nationals website, check www.thenationals.com.au for details.
EVENT03 – 2018 CAMS Australian GT Championship
Sandown International Raceway, Victoria [Sprint]
Friday, 11 May
2:25pm – Practice#1 (40-minutes)
Saturday, 12 May
11:50am – Qualifying#1 (20-minutes)
12:20pm – Qualifying#2 (20-minutes)
4:10pm – RACE#1 (40-minutes)
Sunday, 13 May
10:40am – RACE#2 (40-minutes)
3:10pm – RACE#3 (40-minutes)
2018 CAMS Australian GT Championship (GT4 points after round two of six)
1. Justin McMillan (476-points), 2. Jeremy Gray (470), 3. Glen Wood (320), 4. Andrew Miedecke (279), 5. David Crampton/Trent Harrison (244), 6. Xavier West (189), 7. Mark Griffith (163), 8. Harrison Jones (14)
2018 Australian GT Calendar;
EVENT01 – Australian Grand Prix (Albert Park) SPRINT – 22-25 March
EVENT02 – The Bend, South Australia, ENDURANCE – 14-15 April
EVENT03 – Sandown, Victoria, SPRINT – 12-13 May
EVENT04 – Phillip Island, Victoria, ENDURANCE – 2-3 June
EVENT05 – Sydney Motor Sport Park, SPRINT – 4-5 August
EVENT06 – Hampton Downs, NZ, ENDURANCE – 13-14 October