Queensland Endurance Championship goes on the line This Weekend.

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Sydney and Melbourne aren’t the only locations playing host to Grand Finals this weekend – Queensland’s iconic Lakeside Park is gearing up to stage the Grand Final of the 2018 Queensland Endurance Championship – the third annual Lakeside 300.

Five months ago, Jayson Cassells and Ken Samway claimed top honours in the Willowbank 300, and will go to Lakeside looking to be the first duo to win both the Willowbank and Lakeside events, but can expect to face stiff competition from the remainder of the 13-car field, over the 124-lap journey on Sunday afternoon.

In the previous two editions of this race, BMW has reigned supreme. In 2016, Adam Dodd and Nick Leontsinis claimed an emphatic 1-lap victory in the BMW Z3M Roadster, and last year, it was Gerry Murphy and Jim Pollicina who emerged victorious, in the BMW E92.

This year, four BMW entries feature in the field, and all of them will be out to continue the manufacturers winning streak in this signature event.

Last year, Gerry Murphy broke his ‘300’ hoodoo, when he teamed up with Jim Pollicina, to win their first Lakeside 300, after years of falling short in the Wakefield, Winton and Willowbank editions of the race.

Unfortunately, Murphy and Pollicina won’t return to defend their title, but that opens the door for two new names to join the Lakeside 300 honour roll.

Within the thirteen car field, no less than nine different manufacturers are represented, with Hyundai, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Holden, Ford, Mazda, Suzuki and Toyota all joining BMW on the grid.

Following on from their outright win in the Willowbank 300, Jayson Cassells and Ken Samway head to Lakeside looking to secure the Queensland Endurance Championship, but Trent Laves, who’ll share the Toyota 86 with Callum Whatmore this weekend, in the absence of Dylan Cothill, wants redemption for their narrow loss five months ago.

Both entries can expect a tough fight from the Ford Mustang of Graham Woodward and Scott Simpson, who’ll be hopeful of repeating the success they enjoyed at Queensland Raceway, where they walked away with Division 1 honours.

Scott McLennan will team-up with Cameron McLean once again, and after a successful shakedown at the recent Queensland Racing Drivers Championship event, at Queensland Raceway, McLennan will just be hoping that he greets the starter come Sunday afternoon, unlike April’s Willowbank 300, which was an afternoon to forget for the Mitsubishi driver.

Within the field this weekend, there are a handful of drivers (and cars) taking part in a ‘300’ for the first time, most notably the HQ regulars, Jason Scrivener and Nick Girdleston, who be steering the only Holden in the field – a VT V6 Saloon Car.

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 inception of the event in 2016 – a move made to open up the outright fight, and also neutralize the speed advantage that the Division 1 cars have over the competition.

To date, the Lakeside 300 has only ever been won by entries in Division 2.

Division

Time

CPS

1

57.50-1:00.00

2

2

1:00.01-1:02.00

1

3

1:02.01-1:04.00

1

4

1:04.01-1:06.00

1

5

1:06.01-1:08.00

1

6

1:08.01-1:10.00

1

7

1:10.01-slower

1

Last year, Queensland Touring Car Championship regular, Ashley Hooper claimed pole position, but the extra pit-stop, combined with some mechanical dramas, cruelled his race, as he was the last of the recorded finishers, down in 18th place.

At the front, good strategy and consistent speed saw Murphy and Pollicina record a 10-second victory over the combination of Clift and Heffernan, who were embroiled in an epic fight for the final spots on the podium, with Lisa Montgomerie and Daniel Jilesen, plus Brett Boulton and Matt Mobsby, in a showdown that held the attention of all in attendance, on a day where favourites struck trouble.

Karl Begg and Justin Anthony’s Mercedes C63 AMG was forced into retirement just prior to the two-hour mark.
The Mitsubishi Evo of Wade Scott and Robert Gooley finished eight laps down, while the Ford Mustang of Scott Simpson and Graham Woodward was forced into retirement after just 48 laps.
Three different manufacturers – BMW, Holden and Mazda – featured on the podium.

Only once has this race been won from pole position – 2016, when Nick Leontsinis and Adam Dodd gave Targa Racing their first outright victory in a 300. The BMW Z3M Roadster also holds the race record – 2 hours, 12 minutes, 55.4842 seconds, and with unfavourable conditions expected across the weekend, it’s unlikely that that record will fall this year.

Unofficial practice will be staged on Friday, before two official timed sessions will be held on Saturday morning. On Saturday afternoon, the bottom and top 50% qualifying session will set the grid for positions 11-13, before the top ten cars get a second crack, in the top-ten shootout.

On Sunday, a 20-minute warm-up session will allow competitors one last chance to get everything in check, before the field is unleashed for 124 physically and mentally challenging laps, of Lakeside Park, on Sunday afternoon.