The Erebus Racing team, along with its drivers Peter Hackett and James Brock head into the second round of the Australian GT Championship, protected by Sargent Security at Phillip Island this weekend (May 25-27) full of confidence, however with two very different racing approaches.
The 4.445km circuit a couple of hours from Melbourne retains happy memories for Erebus Racing and the team's chosen machine - the stunning Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3. Last year, Peter Hackett delivered the first win outside Europe for the 563 horsepower SLS Gullwing, one of the 25 wins the SLS recorded worldwide in 2011.
Hackett will be playing catchup in a Championship sense this weekend. As a consequence of an incident in the final stages of the first race at the Clipsal 500, he didn’t start the second race, therefore scoring no points.
He did however secure points from qualifying, which leaves him sitting in seventh place in the Championship, 31 points off the Championship lead.
On the other side of the garage, the laconic James Brock is all smiles. After celebrating his birthday this week, he enters the Championship second in standings after a stunning podium on debut at Clipsal.
A test last week saw the son of a gun complete plenty more laps aboard the SLS - and returning to Phillip Island - where he first drove the ABS and traction-control laden beast, he aims to carry on his thus far trouble free run and continue to bank Championship points.
The test - conducted at Winton with V8 Supercar star Tim Slade and Brock, as Hackett was on Mercedes-AMG Driver Academy duties in Serbia - established a solid base line for the team - and they believe they head to the Island in arguably a stronger position than the one they were in last year, when Hackett walked away with the win.
Nevertheless, with more outright cars entering the fray for this round under the international FIA GT3 specification that has been adopted by the Australian GT Championship in 2012, Erebus Racing has good cause to be keeping watch on its rivals.
The race format will see practice on Friday, a qualifying session Saturday, followed by 60 minute races on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
FROM UNDERNEATH THE GULLWING:
Peter Hackett - #63 Erebus Racing
“Heading to Phillip Island holds many happy memories for Erebus Racing - it provided our first win as a team last year, which was doubly significant as it was the first win for the SLS GT3 outside of Europe.
“It meant a lot to us, but also to Mercedes-Benz to record that victory, so we’re very confident of what we can achieve this weekend.
“From my point of view, clearly we’re playing catch-up after Clipsal, but I don’t think all is lost. 31 points when you are scoring points in qualifying and the races isn’t a huge margin over the course of the Championship.
“The test of the car last week went exceptionally well and its fantastic to have someone like Tim Slade come into the team who is racing every other weekend to give a fresh set of eyes to our program.
“We would love to walk away with another Phillip Island win this weekend, I think it is possible and we’ll certainly be chasing it with everything we have.”
James Brock - #62 Erebus Drillpro Racing
“The test last week was invaluable, we achieved many of the goals we wanted to and made some significant gains, ultimately resulting in a faster racecar - which is why you go testing.
“We laid down some really good lap times from the first session out. It feels like years since we last raced at Clipsal, so I can’t wait to get back onto the Island.
“It’s where my association with this phenomenal team began I guess and we’ve done a lot of testing at Phillip Island, plus racing over the years.
“Erebus Racing has the runs on the board in the GT Championship at the Island - its a fantastic racetrack and perfect for a beautiful car like the Erebus Drillpro SLS AMG GT3.
“Our race pace at the Island should be good, in qualifying we’ll be keeping a close eye on the competition.
“Although we’re currently second in the Championship, the approach hasn’t changed since the start of the season: that is to continue finishing and if you finish, you score points and Championship positions flow from there. Either way, you can be sure we’ll be giving it a good crack.”
EREBUS RACING PHILLIP ISLAND STATISTICS PACKAGE
2012 Australian GT Championship - Round 2, Phillip Island - Details:
All times Australian Eastern Standard Time
Circuit: Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit
Circuit Length: 4.445km
2011 Pole Position: Mark Eddy (Audi): 1:31.7660
2011 Race 1 Winner: Mark Eddy (Audi)
2011 Race 2 Winner: Peter Hackett (Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3)
Lap Record: 1:33.6203 - 2009 - Alan Simonsen (Ferrari 430 GT3)
Friday - May 25, 2012:
1020-1040 - Practice 1
1225-1245 - Practice 2
1505-1525 - Practice 3
Saturday, May 26, 2012
1110-1130 - Qualifying
1555-1655 - Race 1
Sunday, May 27, 2012
1215-1225 - Warmup
1445-1545 - Race 2
During Race Weekend
Live online video coverage will be available via www.itvonline.com.au.