AUDI R8 LMS driver Mark Eddy was back on the podium and moved closer to the lead in the Vodka O Australian GT Championship despite a challenging third round at Sydney’s Eastern Creek International Raceway last weekend.
Just one week after scoring his first win, pole position and two lap records in the German-built Audi at Winton in Victoria, Eddy took third place in the first of two one-hour events on the high-speed, 3.93 kilometre western Sydney circuit.
The consistent Audi has now achieved top-three finishes at each round this season, lifting Eddy to within just nine points of the championship lead with four rounds still to run.
But it was a turbulent weekend for Eddy’s Penfold Audi Sport team after event organisers imposed a surprise performance-parity penalty on the Audi just two hours before qualifying on Saturday.
The penalty raised the vehicle’s ride height by 10 millimetres, affecting its aerodynamic and cornering performance.
“The parity adjustment seemed hard to justify when we had only won one race before,” Eddy said.
“Changing the ride height was worse than giving us ballast, because the Audi R8 LMS relies heavily on its aerodynamics. We lost about 20 percent of its downforce. It made it very difficult to drive.
“We had to use two sets of tyres to get a decent time. It wasn’t a bad time, but the car was on the ragged edge to get there.”
Controversy was added when three other cars went faster than the championship’s declared qualifying benchmark for the track yet did not receive a customary 50 kilogram penalty.
A number of drivers objected over the treatment of the top three – Weeks (Lamborghini), Crick (Viper) and Wall (Porsche) - and an impasse was ended only when they volunteered to start race one from the back of the grid.
But with a one-hour race giving plenty of time to overcome the disadvantage, Crick and Wall nevertheless finished in the top podium positions, just ahead of Eddy.
The Audi driver continued to challenge the unpenalised cars in race two on Sunday, finishing sixth.
“With a track that was wet in parts and dry in others and the increased ride height, the car was made very difficult to drive,” Eddy explained.
“I had no confidence. We got sixth, but it wasn’t a close sixth.
“Yet despite the challenges we still managed to narrow the gap in the points standings, so we remain on course for our ultimate goal of winning the Australian GT Championship.”
Round 4 of the Vodka O Australian GT Championship is scheduled for Townsville on 8-10 July.
2011 Vodka O Australian GT Championship, Eastern Creek International Raceway (Round 3 of 6)
Race 1 (Saturday, 30 laps):
Race 2 (Sunday, 30 laps):
Drivers’ standings (after Rd 3):
For further information, please contact:
Audi Penfold Burwood, Vic.
Telephone: (03) 9268 1555