14 May SMOLLEN DOMINATES MONOCHROME GT4 AUSTRALIA SEASON OPENER
Shane Smollen and his brand new #56 Prestige Connex Porsche Cayman 718 have clean-swept the opening round of the 2023 Monochrome GT4 Australia season, topping practice, qualifying and winning all four races.
Smollen shared the round podium with Tony Quinn (#101 Queensland Raceways Porsche Cayman 718) and Steve Jukes (#30 Jukes Industries F82 M4).
Monochrome GT4 Australia is sharing a grid this year with the Mobil 1 Australian Production Cars, and their third race for the weekend opened the proceedings at Phillip Island this morning with a delayed start due to heavy fog blanketing the circuit at the scheduled start time.
While the race may have been delayed, it was full of action, and while Smollen managed to build a five second gap over his nearest rivals, Jukes and Quinn put on a great show in the battle for P2, with Quinn ultimately coming out on top for the second step on the podium. Karl Begg (#140 Monochrome GT4 Australia Mercedes AMG GT) and Mark Griffith (#19 Daimler Trucks Brisbane Mercedes AMG GT) rounded out the top five, while Steven Wan in the #456 VOZ Property Group Ginetta G56 he is sharing with car-owner Valery Muzman was unable to finish the race after becoming beached at the exit of turn two in the late stages of the race.
In the fourth and final race for the weekend this afternoon, Smollen and Quinn put on a side by side battle in the opening laps, with Smollen emerging to the front after a few intense corners. The battle for P2 was once again on for young and old, with Jukes this time managing to get past Quinn and hold him off to claim second for the race.
Begg had everyone holding their breath with a huge moment at the exit of turn 11 on lap 2, but managed to bring his Mercedes back onto the track without any contact. Griffith would claim fourth place, while Begg recovered to round out the top five. Wan was once again at the wheel of the Ginetta G56 after Muzman steering for both races yesterday, and took out 6th for the category from 18th on the road.
For a recap of races one and two, please click here.
Making Smollen’s victory all the more impressive is the fact that his brand-new car only arrived in the country last week.
“I fortunately had great support from our team and from Porsche Cars Australia, so we were able to hustle and just do what needed to be done to put a competitive race car on the track on Friday,” Smollen said.
“It all happened within a few days, but obviously it is a great product. We haven’t had any opportunity to play with the set-up and there is a lot of adjustability in the car which will come later, but we found a window that was driveable and seemed to look after the tyres quite well over the relatively short races, and I was able to push on with a lot of confidence.
“It is a really balanced car, so you do feel like it is quite a easy car to recover if you do make a mistake, and I think that is one of the important things in the category, having very driveable cars that are going to deliver confidence to amateur drivers who might be stepping up, so I was impressed by that. It reminded me a bit of my Cup Cars, but a bit toned down. Overall, it was just fantastic to be back in a Porsche and in a factory-built race car.
“I am of course delighted with the result. It wasn’t all plain sailing as we had to defend in multiple safety car restarts, but I just really tried to keep my focus corner by corner and not get ahead of myself or rest on the laurels of the previous races, and we were able to come through and it was great.
“We did have a very lucky escape on Friday with an issue getting the car off the line, I was just so lucky that I didn’t lose the car in its first ever race – so kudos and gratitude to the drivers that missed me! We came through and won the race, and since then we had pretty decent weather, so they were fast paced races.
“I want to thank Aaron Reed Motorsport and his team, Mark Griffith, and my sponsors, Prestige Connex and Central Element.”
Round two for Monochrome GT4 Australia and the Mobil 1 Australian Production Cars will be held at Sydney Motorsport Park across June 16-18. Entries for rounds two through six are available now. For entry forms, go to https://ausprodcars.com.au/entry-form/
2023 APC/GT4 AUSTRALIA CALENDAR:
Round one – Phillip Island – 12-14 May – Sprint (4 x 30 minutes)
Round two – Sydney Motorsport Park – 16-18 June – Enduro
Round three – Queensland Raceway – 11-13 August – Enduro
Round four – Sandown International Raceway – 8-10 September – Sprint (4 x 30 minutes)
Round five – The Bend Motorsport Park – 13-15 October – Enduro (4 x 1 hour)
Round six – Bathurst International – 10-12 November – Sprint (4 x 30 minutes