Excitement Building for annual Endurance Contest.

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The third annual Queensland Endurance Championship will commence with the fifth Willowbank 300, at Queensland Raceway this weekend, and it will conclude at Lakeside Park, where the third running of the Lakeside 300 will be staged, on the final weekend of September.

Interest in the series hit an all-time high in 2017, and organisers are hopeful that the 2018 series will only build on that.

Last year, BMW reigned supreme in both events. In the Willowbank 300, Karl Begg drove to victory with Glenn Trigger, who went back-to-back in the Willowbank 300, on a day where BMW scored its second win in the event as well.

In the Lakeside 300, Gerry Murphy broke the hoodoo, scoring his first 300 win, alongside Jim Pollicina, as they celebrated ten years of racing together in the best possible way.

Murphy and Pollicina took Division 1 honours in the Willowbank 300, and their outright win at Lakeside cemented them their first Queensland Endurance Championship title.

The Willowbank 300 attracts a wide variety of cars and manufacturers, and has done so since its inception in 2014.

Like many endurance races, this is a multi-class affair, but the difference here is, cars are split into divisions based on lap times, not car specifications.

What division you’re in also dictates how many compulsory pit-stops you have to complete during the race.

For cars in divisions 2-7, it’s one standalone five-minute pit-stop, but for cars in Division 1, it’s two five-minute stops, and it’s been that way since the event debuted four years ago – a move made to open up the outright fight, and also neutralize the speed advantage the Division 1 cars have over the competition.

Division

Lap Time

Pit-Stops

1

1:18.0-1:21.0

2

2

121.0-1:23.0

1

3

1:23.0-1:25.0

1

4

1:25.0-1:27.0

1

5

1:27.0-1:29.0

1

6

1:29.0-1:31.0

1

7

Over 1:31.0

1

Ryan McLeod and Steve Owen remain the only pairing to win a Willowbank 300 when competing in Division 1. The Holden Astra claimed victory in the 2014 race, ahead of recent Bathurst 6 Hour winners, Grant and Iain Sherrin.

Since then, outright honours have been dominated by Division 2 cars, who’ve won the last three Willowbank 300’s.

Last year, John Prefontaine and Robert Hackwood claimed pole position in the Lotus Exige, but their race campaign was short-lived, due to mechanical failure.

Brake failure saw the other race favourite, Grant and Iain Sherrin’s BMW M4, fail to finish as well, which opened the door for Begg and Trigger to cruise to a comfortable win, ahead of the Mitsubishi Evo of Wade Scott and Robert Gooley.
Matt Mobsby and Brett Boulton rounded out the podium.

Only once has the 300 been won from pole-position, when Steve Owen and Ryan McLeod stormed to victory in 2014.
Nathan Jess and Matthew Thompson hold the race record – they stormed to victory in two hours, 18 minutes and 42.2885 seconds, in 2015.

Sunday’s race will be preceded by unofficial practice on Friday, two official sessions on Saturday morning, Bottom and Top 50% Qualifying on Saturday afternoon, before a 10-minute warm-up on Sunday, and the traditional Top Ten Shootout.

While the 96-lap race is the feature event of the weekend, the Willowbank 300 will boast its biggest ever support card this weekend.

The Australian Formula Ford Series makes its twentieth appearance at Queensland Raceway this weekend, for the second round of their 2018 championship. The Australian Formula 3 Championship will also hold their second round, as will the Australian TA2 Muscle Cars Series.
The Queensland Touring Car Championship – a traditional 300 support category, Classic Sports Sedans and the Australian Trans-Am series round out a massive support card.
On-track action commences from 8:30am on Saturday and Sunday.