11 Nov 2023 MONOCHROME GT4 AUSTRALIA SEASON FINALE SET TO REACH FEVER PITCH ON SUNDAY
After two dramatic races at the Bathurst International today, the Monochrome GT4 Australia competitors are facing down their final two races of their inaugural 2023 season tomorrow (Sunday 12 October).
And if today’s action is anything to go by, race fans can expect two races full of frenetic action and close competition as the racers look to not only celebrate championship glory but also bring home Bathurst bragging rights.
Race one this morning heralded an incredible three-lap dash to the finish line when the race start was delayed 21 minutes due to two separate incidents on the start/finish line for Mobil 1 Australian Production Car competitors – with who Monochrome GT4 Australia is sharing a grid for the final time this weekend ahead of a move to a standalone grid in 2024.
First, the Tony Levitt/Luke King Mercedes suffered an oil fire on the out lap, but thankfully while the delay was long the damage was minimal. When the #16 was cleared a new formation lap was called for at 17 minutes elapsed, and then the Wade Scott #81 Evo 8 came to a halt off the side off the straight with clutch issues. Scott’s entry was quickly cleared, and the field were able to commence the race for the ultimate sprint to the checkered flag.
There was drama even before all this also, with two penalties handed down following yesterday’s qualifying session to see Tim Leahey – who had set the quickest time of the session in his brand-new #22 Central West Prestige BMW backed BMW G82 M4 being penalised three grid spots for a pit lane infringement, starting from P4 as a result. Adam Garwood (#2 Develon Equipment Australia Ginetta G56) meanwhile, another category debutant, had earlier been relegated from P8 to the rear of the grid, also for a pit lane infringement.
When all was said and done, Leahey didn’t let that penalty stand in the way of having an absolute barnstormer of a race. While series leader Shane Smollen (#56 Prestige Connex Porsche Cayman) lead off the line from Karl Begg (#40 Monochrome GT4 Australia McLaren 570S), Leahey would soon pounce to take the lead, before Begg also made his way past Smollen to challenge Leahey all the way to the line, with the local racer crossing the line just ahead of his Queensland-based rival.
Chris Pappas (#8 Gee Up McLaren 570S) was fourth across the line, with Mark Griffith rounding out the top five and officially locking down his second place in the championship in the #19 Daimler Trucks Brisbane Mercedes AMG GT.
Jacob Lawrence, in the #32 Randall Industries BMW F82 M4 he is sharing with mentor and racing legend John Bowe this weekend, was sixth outright for Monochrome GT4 Australia, finishing his race ahead of Bailey Love (#17 Love Racing Mercedes AMG GT) and Garwood, with Lawrence and Love separated on the road by APC competitor, Iain Sherrin.
Steve Juke was unfortunately unable to finish the race, blowing a rear main seal in his #26 Verve Racing BMW F82 M4 in the opening lap, while Rob Love is taking no further part this weekend after suffering heavy contact with the wall in his #127 Love Racing Mercedes AMG GT during practice yesterday.
The second race of the weekend came later in the afternoon, with a 5.05pm kick-off time thankfully getting off to a much smoother start than the morning outing.
In this race, Begg made a fantastic start to the race to take the lead, while Smollen had slight contact with Leahey as he tried to thread the needle between he and Begg unsuccessfully. All the racers continued on, with Begg leading Pappas, Smollen and Leahey out of the first corner and up Mountain Straight.
It wouldn’t be long though before Leahey would overtake first Smollen and then Pappas before taking the lead from Begg with a blinding move over Skyline. From there, while the gap between the leaders would fluctuate, Leahey would never yield the top spot.
Griffith meanwhile was sitting in fifth in his Mercedes, followed at first by Lawrence and Love before Garwood came through to overtake the latter two, while Love would pass Lawrence at the mid-point of the race but would later yield the position, while Griffith soon made a move on Smollen to claim fourth.
With four minutes on the clock, the yellow flags flew and the safety car was called, when an unsighted passing move by the leading Leahey on a lapped Mobil 1 Australian Production Cars competitor (Dean Campbell) saw contact which lead to Campbell losing control of his Mitsubishi Evo for heavy contact with the wall at The Grate.
The race would ultimately conclude under the safety car conditions, with Leahey leading Begg and Pappas across the line, while Grifith and Smollen rounded out the top five.
Garwood and Lawrence were next in sixth and seventh respectively, while Jukes rounded out the Monochrome GT4 Australia field from 9th and 12th overall in the combined grid.
While Smollen and Griffith have 1st and 2nd in the title locked down, third place is still to play for and changed hands following race two, with Begg overtaking Jukes for 3rd and taking a 35-point buffer into Sunday – with a maximum of 36 points available from each of the two remaining races.
The final day of the 2023 season for Monochrome GT4 Australia will consist of two 30-mintue races here at the Bathurst International tomorrow (Sunday 12 November), with the field hitting the track at 8.40am for race three and 11.05am for race four – with this final race of the year for the category to be broadcast live on Stan Sport.
For further information Monochrome GT4 Australia and Mobil 1 Australian Production Cars, please contact email@example.com or visit www.ausprodcars.com.au.