After four seasons campaigning the outright GT3 category in a Reiter Engineering built Lamborghini Gallardo, Melbourne’s M-Motorsport have taken on a new challenge for the 2017 running of the Bathurst 12-Hour, with an assault on Class C in the stunning new KTM X-Box GT4.
For the Interlloy/Wilson Storage backed team, their move across to the GT4 category means no less expectation, with the team fully committed to going after Class victory – a quick look at the driver roster suggesting that the gorgeous black and orange #48 KTM will draw plenty of attention up and down pit lane for more than just its livery!
M-Motorsport team boss Justin McMillan will once more anchor the team, with his star 2016 recruit Glen Wood back alongside, however whilst a proven combination in Australian GT, it’s the two European imports sharing the driving duties that will garner the bulk of the attention.
Tomas Enge is no stranger to Australia, and no stranger to M-Motorsport having competed with the team in the past alongside McMillan in a Reiter Engineering Chevrolet Camaro GT3, the pair showing impressive pace at the season-opening Clipsal 500 three seasons ago.
Enge will be back in Australia for his debut at Mount Panorama, but few expect the former F1 star to be anything but quick, but he won’t be alone! Fellow Reiter recruit and KTM factory driver Reinhard Kofler too will enjoy his first laps of Mount Panorama, but like Enge, he knows the X-Bow GT4 like the back of his hand and is blisteringly fast behind the wheel.
“It’s going to be an interesting weekend,” Justin McMillan admitted as he surveyed the stunning new livery on the all-carbon bodywork.
“We’ve had a mixed relationship with Bathurst in the past, and really enjoyed our time with the Gallardo, but it’s time for a new challenge, and with our strong relationship with Reiter Engineering, it was only natural for us to look to the KTM.”
Powered by a 335bhp 2.0-litre 4-cylinder powerplant sourced from KTM and Lamborghini sibling Audi, and weighing just on 1000kg, the X-Bow is no ‘lightweight’ and is in fact – like many GT cars – detuned for the circuit, in fact during practice for an event in Europe in late 2016, an unrestricted X-Bow split a variety of 2016-spec GT3 cars in practice, forcing much conversation up and down pit lane.
For rising young star Glen Wood though, a change in scenery will not present too great a challenge at Bathurst, although he did admit the X-Bow [pron. Crossbow] was a very different car to drive than the team’s incumbent Gallardo..!
“It’s a lot of fun, but very physical to drive,” Wood admitted. “Unlike the GT3 car which has lots of power to dig you out of a tight spot, you have to be a lot more precise with the KTM to get a quick lap time, but it’s just so easy to drive, and easy to drive fast, despite the fact there’s no power steering!
“We do have one issue, which will become a little more prevalent at the 12-Hour, and that’s’ rearward vision. We’re used to being the ones monstering the GT4s and Cup Cars, but now the tables will get turned on us, so whilst we expect to keep the big boys at bay across the top of the mountain, they’ll be all over us on the run up and down the hill.”
For Wood, his next issue will be a lack of miles at Bathurst, having turned only eight laps last year before the car was retired after an incident for team-mate John McIntyre in qualifying. With Wood, Enge and Kofler having little to no laps at Bathurst, that puts more pressure on team-boss McMillan, who will be the team’s Bathurst ‘veteran’..
“I’m not too concerned, Tomas and Reinhard (1999 European Junior Karting and 2001 Formula BMW Junior champion) are stars in these things and used to getting in the car and going out fast straight out of the box, whilst Glen showed every time he got in the Gallardo last year that he can be fast and cautious, so I’m not too worried about their lack of miles.
“At the end of the day, the focus for us is the Class C victory and to showcase what the car is capable of. It’s already a winner in Europe, and for me that shows me there is plenty of potential to sell cars with Reiter into Australia, and that’s the focus.”
For the new-look M-Motorsport Interlloy/Wilson Storage team, they will get their first chance to turn laps on Friday morning, with almost three and a half hours of practice scheduled on the opening day, ahead of a fifth 60-minute session on Saturday morning ahead of qualifying, then it all gets underway from 5:45am on Sunday morning.
Every session will be streamed live, with live timing also available via the Bathurst 12 Hour website; http://www.bathurst12hour.com.au
Source. Motorsport Media