Australian GT history could be re-written this weekend as the CAMS Australian Endurance Championship heads to Sydney for the Sydney Motorsport Park 501 on Aug. 18-19.
Round 2 of the 2017 season is scheduled for 129 laps of the 3.93km Sydney Motorsport Park circuit, a record-breaking distance of just over 501km.
Set at Sandown in 2007 by Allan Simonsen and Tim Leahey, the previous record distance stands at 490.43km.
Valvoline Jamec Pem racers Tim Miles and Jaxon Evans came close to beating the record at the opening round at Phillip Island, and return looking for a repeat of their race-winning performance that weekend.
However, the Sydney Motorsport Park layout looks likely to level the playing field, with sections of the circuit suited to every car on the grid.
The long front straight and sweeping turn one will play to the strengths of the Lamborghini R-EX of Roger Lago and David Russell (JBS Australia), while Peter Edwards and Greame Smyth will also be strong in the Maranello Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3.
Downhill into the hairpin at Turn 9 should favour the front-engined cars like the BMW Team SRM M6 raced by Steve Richards and James Bergmuller.
With good grip, the Audi R8 GT3s and Lamborghini Huracans should come to the fore through the final sequence of corners where their aero grip and balance will help them change direction quickly.
Fraser Ross and Warren Luff in the Total Opticoat backed McLaren 650S GT3 should not be under-estimated, the car boasting excellent grip which will see it shine through the middle of the lap.
Tony Quinn and A1GP race winner Jonny Reid (Darrell Lea), making his Australian GT debut, will also be aboard a McLaren.
The fleet of Mercedes-AMG GT3s is spearheaded by Peter Hackett and Dominic Storey in the Autex backed Eggleston Motorsport entry.
Strong at Sydney Motorsport Park in 2016, and an extremely competitive opening round at Phillip Island, mark them out as serious contenders heading into the weekend.
Max Twigg and Tony D’Alberto (WM Waste Management) rolled the dice on strategy at the Island, and while it didn’t pay dividends that weekend a test last week confirmed their strong potential in Sydney.
In the sister car are Scott Taylor and Craig Baird (Scott Taylor Motorsport) who return to the wheel of the Mercedes after piloting a Porsche in the opening round.
Clever strategy saw Mark Griffith force the tempo of the racing at Phillip Island, the Hogs Breath Cafe/Griffith Corporation entry racing to a stunning fifth place last time out.
In Audi’s camp, last year’s Australian Endurance Championship winner Grant Denyer makes his racing return after an eight-month sabbatical alongside Greg Taylor in the GT Motorsport entry.
There are once again two entries from Valvoline Jamec Pem, Phillip Island race winner and current championship leaders Miles and Evans aboard the #75 car, while Geoff Emery will share with Audi-factory driver Kelvin van der Linde in the #74.
The impressive Daniel Gaunt welcomes a new co-driver into the Kentucky Fried Chicken Audi R8 LMS, with youngster Dylan O’Keeffe ready for his debut in the Australian Endurance Championship.
A year on from the Lamborghini Huracan’s Australian debut, the field boasts three of the Italian marque’s latest creations.
With 12 months’ worth of experience, Jim Manolios and Ryan Millier return to the circuit where the Trofeo Motorsport crew unveiled the Huracan for the first time looking to put that knowledge to good use.
Timken Zagame Autosport will also represent the raging bull with Adrian Deitz and Cam McConville steering the #6 entry.
The final Lamborghini on the grid is that of Andrew Macpherson and Brad Shiels, in the red and silver AMAC Motorsport car.
A solitary Porsche completes the field with Australian GT Championship leader Liam Talbot joined in the Mega Racing outfit by John Martin.
Combined, it makes for an incredibly competitive field with every car on the grid racing not only for victory but to break one of the longest-standing records in Australian GT history.
Action gets underway on Friday with practice and two qualifying sessions, the average time across both sessions setting the grid for Saturday’s race.