PremiAir Racing partnered with FUCHS Lubricants and Schumacher Motorsport for this year’s Bathurst 12 Hour, with drivers Frédéric Vervisch, Jimmy Golding and Brad Schumacher steering the FUCHS LUBRICANTS-sponsored Audi R8 LMS Evo II at the prestigious February 3-5 event.
The entry was running as high as 1st in Class A Pro-Am and 8th outright before soon after the final quarter of the race began, trouble struck – first with radio issues and then with engine difficulties – seeing the team out of the race with two hours and 30 minutes left on the clock.
While it may not have been the ending PremiAir Racing were hoping for, Team Principal Matt Cook still had plenty of good things to say about the weekend.
“This all came together very last minute for us, but we were happy to take on the challenge and give our drivers a lot of laps outside of our Supercar program, which we managed to execute quite well with not only the race but also a test day just prior,” Cook said.
“We had a pretty pacey car – we were up against professional teams that travel around the world doing this and we definitely held our own. The car was quick all weekend, and all of our drivers were pretty speedy.
“We were especially grateful to have Frédéric with us who flew out from Europe and managed to teach us all a few little finer techniques with these cars which made us all better drivers.
“Things were going along quite well, we were fast in the all the practice sessions and qualified quite well, and we were doing very well in the race and with three hours to go we were leading in class and 8th outright.
“We then had a radio issue that put us down four laps, and when we were on our way to getting all of them back, the engine unfortunately expired.
“It wasn’t a great end to something that could have been a good result, but with those kinds of failures if you don’t bring it in you risk a major failure, and the Audis already struggle for a bit of top end at that particular track so going down a couple of horsepower makes it a whole lot harder, so we decided to retire the car and limit a massive repair bill.
“That saw us walk away a little deflated, but that’s racing, and I think we can hold our heads high with how we performed up to that point in what was our first time at this exceptionally competitive event.”
For PremiAir Racing Supercar pilot Jimmy Golding, the event was exceptionally valuable.
“On my side of things, I had a pretty good race! Obviously, we had a few dramas as a team throughout the day, but I thoroughly enjoyed it,” Golding said.
“I got all my practice sessions in, and my race runs, up to the last one where I was about to head out again and unfortunately didn’t get to go out.
“I learnt a lot, and really enjoyed the new challenge of driving a GT3 car. Overall, I am still pretty pleased with the experience.
“And any time you drive around Bathurst is beneficial. Of course, it will be a totally different kettle of fish when I jump in to the Gen3 Supercar at Bathurst, but it is more about learning new things about different cars and taking those lessons into other forms of racing where you might need to use the same techniques which can transfer across. It is more the overall experience and keeping sharp.”
For Team Owner Peter Xiberras, the event represented the ticking off of a bucket list item.
“It is no secret that I love my motorsport and the Bathurst 12 Hour is something that has been on my bucket list to do one day, although it has probably come a little earlier than I initially anticipated,” smiled Xiberras.
“This came about as we were looking for opportunities for our drivers to do some extra laps ahead of the Supercars season and get their eye in, so we approached Brad Schumacher, and it evolved from there, and we struck up a deal where we provided a lot of the commercial side of it, our engineer, our team principal, radio systems and so on, and it all came together.
“Except for the few issues we had at the end of the day, the experience has been quite good.
“I must say a big thanks to Brad, it has been a pleasure. And also a big thank you to Frédéric for coming out at the last minute when Tim (Slade) wasn’t able to run due to awaiting the birth of his second child, and then another driver we had lined up ended up being called up to replace another driver in another race.
“Frédéric may have been drafted last minute but he was very willing and brought a lot of value to the team with ways to do things a little differently, so we are very appreciative of his help and his efforts this weekend.
“Now we will go away and look at how we can maybe do this again next year!”
PremiAir Racing is going to be exceptionally busy over the coming weeks, finalising the preparation of its Gen3 Supercars before back-to-back race weekends to kick off March.
The team will first head to the Perth Motorplex across March 4 and 5 for the latest round of the Burson Auto Parts Australian Top Fuel Championship, before the 2023 Supercars Championship season opener in Newcastle the very next weekend (March 10-12). For event information, visit www.topfuelchampionship.com.au, www.motorplex.com.au and www.supercars.com.au
For more information on PremiAir Racing, please visit www.premiairracing.com or follow the team on its social media platforms at www.facebook.com/PremiAirRacing/, www.instagram.com/premiair_racing/, www.linkedin.com/company/premiairracing/ and www.twitter.com/premiairracing