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GT World Challenge Australia

Phillip Island Weekend Notebook

Sportscar365’s notebook from the inaugural round of GTWC Australia at Phillip Island…

Photo: Daniel Kalisz

***Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia Powered by AWS has kicked off at Phillip Island, a month later than originally scheduled, after Round 1 had to be postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak in Melbourne.

***Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit and the Victorian government have a number of “COVID-safe” procedures in place to ensure the event meets state policies, including a limit to 3,000 spectators allowed into the venue each day.

***Face masks are not mandatory, however, online check-in is required to enter the circuit and social distancing is in place in the media center and around the paddock.

***While the skies threatened to rain during Saturday’s season-opener, it stayed away until the checkered flag, with only a few spots on the windshields. However, once the GT race was over it rained heavily for the remainder of the day, turning parts of the race track into a river and forcing the cancellation of a national Trans Am race.

***Clear blue skies are forecast across Sunday for the second race.

***Garth Tander said his co-driver Yasser Shahin set up their Saturday race win and all he had to do was circulate to the finish. “We spent a lot of time working on [Yasser’s] speed and making sure he was really comfortable in the car and that really paid off because he got to the lead and even those couple of laps before the safety car pulled a big gap,” said Tander.

***Maranello Motorsport confirmed to Sportscar365 that its Ferrari 488 GT3 hasn’t been raced since the Australian Grand Prix in 2017 for Australian GT. The car is still a 2017-spec car, with no plans to upgrade to the Evo package available for it just yet.

***Multiple cars were withdrawn after a carnage-filled race on Saturday, with the most high-profile departure being the Maranello Ferrari of Peter Edwards and Adrian Deitz after the latter clipped a spinning car on the opening lap.

***Another Ferrari eliminated from the weekend and potentially racing ever again was the 458 GT3 of Wayne Mack, who suffered a heavy crash on the final corner of the final lap of Race 1. It’s not known whether the team will attempt any repairs, with the car expected to need a re-shell.

***Michael Bailey’s crew also packed up and went home early after he found the tire barrier on the inside of Turn 3 on his own in a bizarre incident in the previous-generation Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3.

***SRO’s technical team is working extensively behind the scenes on the Balance of Performance for GTWC Australia. Representatives from the Australian Racing Group on the ground send files for each car back to the technical team in Europe and Asia each day to analyze data and make any relevant adjustments.

***It is expected that as soon as Stephane Ratel and technical director Claude Surmont can make a trip to Australia for an event, they will, with the Australian government’s travel restrictions the biggest hurdle.

***GTWC Australia has swayed away from SRO’s procedures in some areas, with category manager Ken Collier calling it appropriate “individualization”.

***The Australian variant operated qualifying differently to what is seen in Europe and America, with both 20-minute sessions being combined to set the grid for Race 1. Two-driver combinations are only allowed to run Driver A in the first session and Driver B in the second session.

***Single-driver cars can take to the track in both sessions, with the best lap time from any car in either session setting the grid for Race 1. The second race of the weekend is run in a progressive format with teams lining up for Race 2 how they finished Race 1.

***Collier also explained how the mandatory pit stop sequence works, with teams given a 10-minute window during the race to make the stop. A minimum 96-pit lane delta applies for all cars, with a mandated 65-second stationary time allowing for driver changes.

***Time penalties apply should any car fall under the required 96 seconds in the pit lane.

***Grove Motorsport lost more than 20 seconds entering the pits when Stephen Grove ground to a halt at pit entry during Race 1. Troubles with the pit speed limiter on the brand-new Porsche 911 GT3 R meant Grove had to complete a “full reset of the car”, forcing those held up behind to take to the grass.

***Roland Dane was spotted helping out in pit lane during the race action, with Whincup quipping that the Triple Eight team owner had gloves on “in case things flared up” during the pits to ensure he was ready to lend a hand.

***David Reynolds is making a cameo appearance as part of the Seven Network’s coverage of the Shannons Motorsport Australia Championship opener. The Kelly Grove Racing Supercars driver is on-air in various capacities including as a pit reporter and provided color commentary for the GTWC Australia race.

***A favorite amongst the fans, the Dale Paterson-driven, Reiter Engineering-built Chevrolet Camaro GT3 is competing in the GT Trophy class this weekend, designed for older-generation GT3 cars. While the Camaro is out of GT3 homologation it is still able to compete in the Trophy class under the current regulations, with SRO giving permission.

***Viewers outside of Australia and New Zealand can follow Race 2, which is scheduled for 11:50 a.m. local time (7:50 p.m. ET), on the GT World YouTube channel. Channel 7mate and streaming service 7plus will have coverage of the race in Australia and while Sky Sports will air the action in New Zealand.

Photo: GTWC Australia

Slade Perrins is an Australian-based reporter for Sportscar365. Perrins won the 2019 Virgin Australia Supercars 'Young Gun Award' for journalism for his work with

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