The opening round of the 2017 CAMS Australian Endurance Championship races into Phillip Island this weekend, as part of the 100th round of the Shannons Nationals.
This weekend team’s will face a 500km test of skill in what will set a new record for the longest distance covered in an Australian GT event – the current record standing at 490km, set by Allan Simonsen and Tim Leahy at Sandown in 2007.
To complete the journey, teams will make two compulsory pit stops, with the pit window opening 50-minutes into the race, and closing after 130-minutes.
However, to reach the chequered flag it’s expected many will stop a third time, adding an all-new dimension to the racing.
With two drivers per car, qualifying will consist of two sessions on Saturday afternoon, with the average of the two times setting the grid.
The weekend also marks the 100th Shannons Nationals round, a milestone shared by Max Twigg who will become just the second man in Australian GT history to chalk up 100 race starts.
The veteran Mercedes-AMG GT3 racer began his career in Porsches, before stepping into a BMW M6 GT3 last year alongside Steve Richards.
For 2017 he’s joined Scott Taylor Motorsport, and will partner with Tony D’Alberto in the WM Waste Management Services entry to make one of the most exciting combinations on the grid.
Having raced solo throughout 2017 in the Australian GT Championship, team boss Scott Taylor will share the driving duties with the experienced Craig Baird in a Porsche 911 GT3-R.
They’ll battle it out against the Audi juggernaut, with Geoff Emery joined by Supercars star Garth Tander in the Jamec Pem Racing Audi R8 LMS.
The two-car Jamec Pem Racing operation will see rising star Jaxon Evans share the duties with Tim Miles in the sister car.
Daniel Gaunt will jump back behind the wheel of the Kentucky Fried Chicken Aud8 R8 LMS, sharing with Matt Stoupas, who made his Australian GT debut with the Trophy Series at Sandown in April.
The final Audi will be steered by Ash Samadi who will tackle the fearsome Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit in the Ah Apartments Audi.
Flying the flag for McLaren will be Fraser Ross and Warren Luff, the pair combining for the first time in the YNA Autosport McLaren 650S GT3.
Tony Quinn will pedal a similar example, driving the Darrell Lea entry which last year carried Shane Van Gisbergen and Klark Quinn to second place at Phillip Island.
Joining him will be drifting superstar Mad Mike Whiddett, who last year co-drove with Klark Quinn at both Hampton Downs and Highlands in what was an impressive circuit racing debut.
Also ready for battle will be the Walkinshaw GT3 operated MEGA Racing Porsche 911 GT3-R, driven by Australian GT Championship points leader Liam Talbot.
With victories at the last two Australian GT events, Talbot enters on form, and will be joined by John Martin, who claimed pole position at Sydney Motorsport Park in the car last year.
BMW will front with a pair of M6 GT3s run out of the BWM Team SRM stable, Steve Richards once again partnering James Bergmuller in the Laser Plumbing backed #100 entry.
Across the garage will be Danny Stutterd, who has reunited with Sam Fillmore – the pair having raced together at the end of the 2016 Australian Endurance Championship.
Last year’s Australian GT Trophy Series MARC Class title winner Jake Camilleri will reacquaint himself with the Hog’s Breath Café/Griffith Corporation Mercedes-AMG GT3 he’ll share with team owner Mark Griffith.
Another of the mighty Mercedes will be piloted by Dom Storey and Peter Hackett, the pair ending last year’s Championship in second place, and are this year focused on going one better.
Taking on the might of the German marques will be a bevy of entries from Italy, including five Lamborghinis and Maranello Motorsport’s Ferrari 488 GT3 driven by Peter Edwards and Graham Smyth.
Race winners Roger Lago and David Russell are back together in the JBS Australia Lamborghini R-EX GT3.
The duo won the inaugural Hampton Downs 101 in 2016 in sensational style, while Lago has proved a force to be reckoned with in 2017 in the Australian GT Championship.
Peter Major will join Glen Wood in the Interlloy M Motorsport Lamborghini as the Western Australian makes his debut in the Australian Endurance Championship.
He’s fresh from success at his home circuit when the Australian GT Championship visited Barbagallo at the start of May.
The Lamborghini Huracan will be well represented, with Jim Manolios pairing with Ryan Millier in the Haemokineses/Whispering Vines Café entry.
Andrew Macpherson and Brad Shiels will also race one of the Raging Bull’s latest machines in the IMAK/Kwikmit backed entry.
Zagame Autosport will make its endurance racing debut when Adrian Deitz and Cam McConville take to the circuit in their own Timken backed Lamborghini.
Track action begins at Phillip Island with a 30-minute practice session on Saturday morning ahead of two qualifying sessions.
With the grid set, drivers will have one last chance to survey the circuit in warmup on Sunday morning before the 500km race later in the day.
Entry to Phillip Island is free to CAMS license holders across the weekend, while those unable to catch the race in person can follow all the action on Sunday via a free live stream.
|3||Ah Apartments||Audi R8 LMS GT3||Ash Samadi/TBC|
|6||Timken/Zagame Autosport||Lamborghini Huracan GT3||Adrian Deitz/Cameron McConville|
|7||Darrell Lea||McLaren 650S GT3||Tony Quinn/Mad Mike Whiddett|
|8||WA Waste Management Services||Mercedes-AMG GT3||Max Twigg/Tony D’Alberto|
|19||Hog’s Breath Café/Griffith Corporation||Mercedes-AMG GT3||Mark Griffith/Jake Camilleri|
|22||Scott Taylor Motorsport||Porsche 911 GT3-R||Scott Taylor/Craig Baird|
|23||JBS Australia||Lamborghini R-EX GT3||Roger Lago/David Russell|
|29||Haemokinesis/Whispering Vines Café||Lamborghini Huracan GT3||Jim Manolios/Ryan Millier|
|48||Interlloy M Motorsport||Lamborghini R-EX GT3||Glen Wood/Peter Major|
|51||AMAC Motorsport IMAK-Kwikmit||Lamborghini Huracan GT3||Andrew Macpherson/Brad Shiels|
|59||YNA Autosport||McLaren 650S GT3||Fraser Ross/Warren Luff|
|63||Eggleston Motorsport||Mercedes-AMG GT3||Dominic Storey/Peter Hackett|
|74||Valvoline Jamec Pem Racing||Audi R8 LMS GT3||Geoff Emery/Garth Tander|
|75||Valvoline Jamec Pem Racing||Audi R8 LMS GT3||Tim Miles/Jaxon Evans|
|88||Maranello Motorsport||Ferrari 488 GT3||Peter Edwards/Graham Smyth|
|100||BMW Team SRM||BMW M6 GT3||Steve Richards/James Bergmuller|
|101||DJS Racing||BMW M6 GT3||Danny Stutterd/Sam Fillmore|
|124||Kentucky Fried Chicken||Audi R8 LMS GT3||Daniel Gaunt/Matt Stoupas|
|911||MEGA Racing||Porsche 911 GT3-R||Liam Talbot/John Martin|