McElrea drivers set the early pace in Practice 1 and 2 of Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge
Clear, sunny conditions welcomed the Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge teams and competitors to Round 4 of the 2019 Championship at the Queensland Raceway in Ipswich on Friday.
McElrea Racing teammates, Harri Jones and Ryan Suhle put their hometown advantage to good use, taking turns to top the timesheets in the Pro Class in the day’s practice session. Jones grabbed a last-minute advantage over Suhle in the dying moments of the morning session, with Christian Pancione and Phillip Island round winner, Jordan Love also showing good pace throughout the session in third and fourth respectively.
Jones and Suhle are both Queensland based and are thriving under the experience of the McElrea team, whose resume of developing future stars has included the likes of Matt Campbell, Jaxon Evans and Cooper Murray in recent years.
In the TAG Heuer Pro-Am class, Scott Taylor set the early pace in Practice 1 but was soon demoted down the order by first Sam Shahin and then Brett Boulton, while Andrew Goldie was unchallenged in Class B.
After the day’s first session Jones remarked, “It’s been a good start to the weekend, we struggled on the first set of tyres, the Supercars rubber that went down last week has changed the track a fair bit, but we made a few tweaks and finished off P1.”
“I love Ipswich, it’s my home track and I’ve not only driven here for a few years but its where I started my racing career. It’s probably not the most exciting circuit in Australia, but definitely produces some exciting racing.”
Fellow McElrea teammate, Brett Boulton would also find his home town advantage beneficial despite the slippery conditions, “We were fortunate with this being our home track and to have had a test day here last weekend. While the track was slippery early on, I’m happy we could carry good momentum into this weekend.”
By the time the day’s second practice session commenced later in the afternoon, the sky was littered with rain threatening clouds but the session thankfully stayed dry allowing most teams to finalise their set up for the Saturday’s early qualifying.
After Jones again grabbed the early advantage in the second session, it was Max Vidau’s turn to join the party, bettering the 1m11.615 lap time Jones had posted in the morning session by a full tenth.
But as the session wore on, the times continued to fall with Pancione being the first to drop under the 1m11:4 mark. Suhle, Pancione and Jones then all dropped into the 1m10.6 sec bracket in quick succession with 5 minutes remaining.
New sets of Michelin rubber for both Suhle and Jones, finally saw the McElrea teammates round out the session with the days’ quickest times. Suhle’s final 1m10.561 lap was over 0.4secs faster than the 4-year-old lap record previously held by Ryan Simpson in 2015.
Boulton and Goldie again proved the pick of their respective classes and look likely to repeat the feat going into tomorrow’s qualifying. Tomorrow’s two races, along with Sunday morning’s final sprint race will all be streamed live via the Shannons Nationals website.
For more race information throughout the weekend, follow the Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge social pages: Instagram – @CupChallengeAus / Twitter – @CupChallengeAus / Facebook.com/CupChallengeAus
Schedule – Round 4, Queensland Raceway
Saturday, 3 August
12:55–13:15pm: Race 1
16:05–16:50pm: Race 2 (Jim Richards Endurance Trophy)
Sunday, 4 August
09:40-10:00am: Race 3
TV Broadcast details
Qualifying and all three races will be streamed live via www.thenationals.com.au website