BMW Team SRM drivers Steve Richards and Max Twigg leave Western Australia’s third round of the Australian GT Championship extremely satisfied with the progress of the BMW M6 GT3, despite a tough second race at Barbagallo Raceway.
Not for the first time this season, the Safety Car wasn’t kind to the BMW Team SRM crew. Having made a fantastic start, jumping from 19th to 15th on the opening lap, Twigg’s progress was halted mid-way through the second lap when a full course caution was called, thanks to Geoff Emery hitting the wall.
The Safety Car stayed out for a full 20 minutes before the race was red flagged.
When the race was ready to be re-started, with just 19 of the original 60 minutes left on the clock, race officials decided to alter the format so that driver swaps could be made, and 50 per cent of the compulsory pit-stop time added to the final classification.
Richards did his best to try and offset the 96-second performance penalty he was set to be hit with, but found progress challenging on the tight West Australian circuit.
To add insult to injury, Richards was also slapped with an additional 20-second penalty for contact with the #2 Audi as he tried to deal with some defensive driving tactics late in the race.
While the final result of 18th was disappointing, it wasn’t all bad news from BMW Team SRM. Both drivers were left hugely encouraged by the weekend, citing significant improvements in the car as a reason to be positive heading into the first endurance round at Phillip Island later this month.
“It’s the nature of the championship,” said Richards about the compulsory pit-stop time.
“It’s always going to be tough on us when things like that happen at the sprint rounds; it’s basically impossible to get a result.
“There was a lot of blocking going on in that race, too. Nothing seems to get done about it, which can be frustrating.
“It’s still early days for us with this car, and the results might not show it but it was really good in that race.
“We came here to Perth looking for some improvement as a result of some new parts from overseas, and it’s been positive. The brakes are definitely a big step forward compared to the first two rounds, so we’re very excited about that.
“There’s definitely progress. Today we weren’t able to be at the right end of the field to show it.”
Twigg added that, while he didn’t get as many racing laps as he would have liked, he could still feel that the car was working well.
“I made four or five spots in the first couple of laps, which was good fun,” said Twigg.
“Steve did the majority of the driving, but from what I can tell we’ve made some step forwards this weekend.
“The brake package is excellent, we just need to work on getting the car off the corners a little better. The car is balanced, it brakes well, so we’re going alright.”
The next round of the Australian GT Championship will be held at Phillip Island in Victoria from May 27-28.