WA win moves DPO to second in GT Championship

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Nathan Morcom outdrags Marcus Marchall to the finish line in Race 1. [MPix photo]

Intermittent rain and a crash-shortened second heat mixed up the third round of the Australian GT Championship at Barbagallo Raceway – but DPO’s Nathan Morcom shone through it all to take the overall win!

A nail-biting second place in Race 1 and a fourth-that-became-sixth in Race 2, combined with third in the second qualifying session moved Nathan from fourth up to second in the series pointscore. That was despite yet another less than ideal race meeting at the 2.4km Western Australian circuit for Nathan, driving the DPO-Rondo-CSR McLaren 650S GT3.

With championship points awarded in both of Friday’s qualifying sessions as well as the two hour-long races on Saturday and Sunday, he missed out in the first session. A wet but drying track had drivers guessing when dry weather tyres would be faster than treaded wet weather ones.

Nathan was among those who stayed out for one extra lap on wets rather than risk sliding off the damp circuit after fitting slicks. But a flurry of quicker lap times at the end of the session showed that those who fitted slicks earlier guessed right.

The track was also wet at the start of the second qualifying session, but it didn’t dry as much as in the earlier session. Nathan, who has achieved exceptional results on wet racetracks in the past, was a solid third fastest on the soggy circuit.

Nathan was a solid third fastest in the soggy second qualifying session. [MPix photo]

It was a similar situation in the early part of Saturday’s first race, but this time Nathan gambled by staying on wets well after they were past their prime. With the wet track again drying rapidly, some drivers dived into the pits as soon as a Safety Car slowed the field, and swapped their wets for slicks before the mid-race compulsory pit stop ‘window’ opened.

Nathan was among those who stayed out to maintain their track positions, in the hope that the disintegrating treaded tyres would hold together until the pit stop ‘window’ opened. From a lowly 13th at the start he’d climbed to fifth place when he finally came into the pits. With the McLaren fitted with slicks, he rapidly recovered lost ground to be third when another Safety Car period set the scene for a dramatic final 15 minutes.

While Stephen McLaughlin established a short but secure lead in his Audi, no sooner had Nathan passed second placed Tony Quinn (Aston Martin) than he came under attack from Marcus Marshall in another Audi. But try as he might Marshall couldn’t find a way past Nathan, who outdragged the Audi to cross the Finish line barely a car-length ahead!

Nathan battled with a determined Marcus Marshall in the closing stages of Race 1. [MPix photo]

The second heat turned into a repeat of the controversial second round of the GT Championship at Albert Park in March. The race was reduced to a 30-minute sprint after Audi driver Geoff Emery crashed heavily on the opening lap, forcing the organisers to stop the race while Emery was extricated from his damaged car.

By the time racing resumed there was no way to incorporate compulsory pit stops with handicap time penalties, so the penalties were applied after the finish. In the wash-up, some drivers found themselves higher up the finishing order while others went south.

Nathan ran second for most of the race, but the McLaren’s ‘wet’ set caused the rear tyres to lose grip as the race went on. He finished fourth on the track, and then lost another two positions in the time penalty reshuffle.

But having won the overall round he was philosophical about the outcome.

“The wet track caught us out in the first qualifying session, and I left it a lap too late to change to slicks,” he said.

“In the first race my rear tyres lost grip as the track dried. After the second Safety Car I had to hang on to the finish, which wasn’t easy with Marcus trying everything to get past!

“The same thing happened to the rear tyres in Race 2, and I had to let a couple of cars past just to conserve the grip that was left. But we won the round so it turned out okay.”

Nathan leads a McLaren trio in Race 2. [MPix photo]

DPO director Barry Morcom was happy to have come away with the round win.

“At Albert Park Nathan won his first GT Championship race, and this time he won his first round,” he said. “That was pretty good considering he didn’t have a great first qualifying session, and the shortened second race cost him some points.

“So far Nathan has been on the pace at three circuits with mainly stop-go corners that suit the Audis more than our DPO-Rondo-CSR McLaren. I’m confident that he’ll be even more competitive once we get to circuits that suit the McLaren’s high-speed handling.”

The fourth round of the Australian GT Championship will be held at Phillip Island in Victoria on May 27-28, with the opening round of the Australian Endurance Championship, also for GTs, at the same circuit a day later.

Winning the round put Nathan up to second in the GT Championship. [MPix photo]


1. Klark Quinn – 335 points

2. Nathan Morcom – 328 points

3. James Koundouris & Marcus Marshall – 323 points



1. Klark Quinn – 335 points

2. Nathan Morcom – 328 points

=3. James Koundouris & Marcus Marshall – 323 points



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