Terry Lawlor made his debut in the Staff Solutions GT3 Cup challenge a few weekends ago at Mallala, coming home with a brilliant ninth overall and best finish of seventh.
The team???s goal for the weekend was to get a race weekend???s worth of experience in the car and series under their belts and finish within the top ten; a goal they surpassed handily.
It was Terry???s first outing in the series, first race in the car and the first time he???d been out to Mallala. So, they took it easy and kicked it all off with an endurance race.
Race one was held as one of the season???s three forty-lap endurance races, which run for close to an hour. Did I mention that the rules only allow for six tyres to be used across the whole weekend? That???s six tyres, not six sets, for the forty-lap endurance and two normal races.
??t was a real challenge for me personally, really one of the hardest things I???ve done. It???s very hot inside, which really takes it out of you. The level of fitness required is significantly higher than in historic racing and Touring Car Masters.??/p>
??verything???s happening a lot faster and the workload is significantly higher.??/p>
It???s those differences that really put the tinkle in his eye. The GT3 Cup Challenge field sits at around 23 cars, and they???re all exactly the same. There is much more variance and unpredictability in historics, where different cars have different strengths at different points of time and there can be substantial speed differentials between the fastest and slowest machines in the field.
The GT3 Cup Cars all have the same stopping power, acceleration and handling capabilities. This provides consistency, in that you know what the machines around you are capable of.
Which means that drivers can get down to the business of racing with a degree of confidence and predictability, and that the outcome ultimately comes down to the skill and bravery of the driver.
??he only real speed differential is the driver???s capabilities. That???s the great part of racing in the category.??/p>
Similarly to historics, however, it???s about close racing with a great deal of respect; ??t promotes the social side and wants to be a gentleman???s class and try to avoid coming together and damaging the cars.??/p>
As the race weekend progressed, so did Terry???s skill and bravery. He moved up the field in the first two races and was running close to the top five in race three until he had a spin that put him back down to fifteenth.
??e were really happy. Other than the spin in the last race it was a fantastic weekend.??/p>
??he car went brilliantly, especially with Matt and Grant in support. We replaced a seeping brake calliper and that was about the only thing we had to do.??/p>
Terry heads to Phillip Island this month for round two of the championship, held over the 25th to the 27th of May. It???s a track he has some experience on from historic racing and, with a race weekend under his belt, he???s really looking forward to getting out and racing again.
We wish him the best of luck, and are looking forward to following his progress over the coming months!
Photography by James Smith