Annual Test of Endurance Awaits at QR!

A small, but intriguing field will greet the starter, when the 2019 Queensland Endurance Championship commences this weekend, with the sixth running of the Willowbank 300, at Queensland Raceway.

In total, seven different manufacturers are represented in the 10-car field, of which only one – BMW – has previously been victorious in a Willowbank 300. In fact, in the short five-year history of this event, BMW is the only manufacturer to have won this race more than once.

The defending Lakeside 300, and Queensland Endurance Championship winner, Trent Laves headlines the field for 2019. Laves finished second in the Willowbank 300, driving alongside Dylan Cothill, before joining forces with Callum Whatmore, to win the Lakeside 300 in September.

After falling so agonisingly short in the 2018 Willowbank 300, both Laves and Cothill return in 2019, hopeful of going one better.

‘Pommy John’ Sheridan will field two entries in the 2019 race – his usual, trusty Hyundai Excel, and his new project – a Ford XR4. Sheridan will team up with his usual co-constituent, Jayden Faulkner for this one, while the third member of their 2018 team, Daniel Ross, also has a new project for season 2019, and you’ll see him racing a Toyota Altezza this weekend.

Bruce Forsyth returns to the grid, but not in the BMW E46 that he shared with Michael James last year – instead, a Subaru BRZ that he’ll share with 2017 Queensland Endurance Champion, Gerry Murphy. Michael James will share driving duties with Callan Sayers, in a Holden HSV GTS.

James Van Roon will field his Hyundai Excel, which, like John Sheridan, will be on double-duty this weekend, meaning Division 7 should be extremely competitive, as it’ll also feature the Hyundai Elantra of Noel Otto and Daniel Saunders – a new entry for 2019.

Scott McLennan and Cameron McLean return in the Mitsubishi Mirage out of the Scott McLennan Racing stable. Both men will be hopeful of a far better run than what they experienced here twelve months ago. After getting through practice and qualifying, they failed to start the 300, due to mechanical dramas they encountered just before the event got underway.

After finishing second in the Lakeside 300 last September, Warwick Douglas will be looking for similar success, when he lines up, in his BMW E30 on Sunday afternoon.

This is a multi-class race. The field will compete in as many as seven different divisions, based on lap speed rather than car specifications, and the division you’re contesting will determine whether you have to make one or two compulsory pit-stops.

Those pit-stops are for a minimum of five minutes. Division 1 cars – the fastest of the field – have to make two of those stops, and that rule is in place in a bid to bring them back to the field, which therefore gives Division 2 and (possibly) 3 cars a chance of scoring an outright result.

The history of the ‘300’ series of events will show that winning from Division 1 is difficult, but doable. A Division 1 car has won the Sydney, Wakefield or Winton 300 on eight occasions, and won the first instalment of the Willowbank 300, back in 2014, as well.

The absence of a ‘Safety Car’ is the distinct difference between the ‘300’ events held in Queensland, and those held in NSW and Victoria, which is why claiming outright honours here, is so much more difficult for a Division 1 entry.

Division 2 cars have won this race for the last four years in succession, and have swept the outright podium on two occasions (2015 and 2017).

Nine drivers have previously won the Willowbank 300, including Ryan McLeod and Steve Owen (2014), as well as Karl Begg (2017).

Begg’s victory, alongside Glenn Trigger, saw the latter become the only man to have won this race twice – a record that’ll remain intact until, at least, 2020.

The race has never been won from pole position, but the 2018 race – which saw Jayson Cassells and Ken Samway give Nissan its first win in a ‘300’ – was the first time that the race had been won from the front row.

For ‘300’ competitors, there’ll be two TIMED practice sessions on Saturday morning, ahead of qualifying that afternoon. On Sunday, a 10-minute warm-up session precedes the Top Ten Shootout, which will set the bulk of the grid for the 96-lap race that afternoon, which will be broadcast LIVE via the Queensland Raceways Facebook page.

Supporting the event this year will be Round 2 of the Track Attack Australia Excel Cup, Round 1 of the Australian Trans-Am Series, Round 2 of QR Sports and Sedans, incorporating Round 1 of the Queensland Production Ute Series, and also Legend Cars Australia, in their first visit to the Willowbank venue.

Division

Time Bracket

Compulsory Pit-Stops

1

1:18.00-1:19.99

2 x 5-Minute Stops

2

1:20.00-1:21.99

1 x 5-Minute Stop

3

1:22.00-1:23.99

1 x 5-Minute Stop

4

1:24.00-1:25.99

1 x 5-Minute Stop

5

1:26.00-1:27.99

1 x 5-Minute Stop

6

1:28.00-1:29.99

1 x 5-Minute Stop

7

1:30.00 and over

1 x 5-Minute Stop

Race Facts

 

Laps: 96
Circuit: 3.12km
Turns: 6 [4 Right, 2 Left]
Direction: Clockwise
Race Distance: 299.52km
Compulsory Pit Window: Lap 20-80
Maximum Driving Time: 60 Laps

Outright Winners

Year

Winner

Car

Div

Race Time

Grid

2014

Ryan McLeod/Steve Owen

Holden Astra

1

2:22:43.3306

4

2015

Nathan Jess/Matthew Thompson

Future Racer

2

2:18:42.2885

6

2016

Matt Mobsby/Glenn Trigger

BMW E30

2

2:36:52.9445

4

2017

Karl Begg/Glenn Trigger

BMW E92

2

2:28:27.8069

5

2018

Jayson Cassells/Ken Samway

Nissan 180SX

2

2:27:54.2231

2


On-track action commences from 8:30am each morning.

Spectator Admission: Saturday $20 | Sunday $30 | Weekend Pass $40