High-speed collision relegates Shoal and QxBranch to third at Highlands 101
Going into the final round of the Australian GT Championships at the Highlands Motorsport Park at Cromwell, New Zealand, the Thomson Geer / Shoal / QxBranch Porsche 997 GT3 team was well-placed to win the Challenge division 2015 championship having led the field at the end of the previous round in Sandown, Melbourne. This promised to be a demanding event with a number of V8 Supercar and international drivers competing in the Championship division.
We qualified first in our Challenge division and got off to an excellent start in the first race, leading from the start. However, a collision at high speed with another car forced hurried repairs with a hammer, tape and cable ties. Despite a return to the track near the end of the race, the lost time resulted in a ‘Did Not Finish’. A second place finish in our division for the second race later that day wasn’t enough to recover our leading position. Our team came third overall for the season, a credible result.
The feature of the weekend, the Highlands 101 endurance race, saw our car start well and lead the Challenge division for half of the race before a gearbox failure, the second the season, force an early retirement. The race was filled with drama with one car, an Aston Martin, spearing off the track and over an embankment, briefly trapping the driver. Another car was engulfed in flames during refuelling.
With the season now concluded, and the cars enroute back to Australia by sea, our team is planning repairs and deciding how best to attack the 2016 season.