Aussies produce mixed bag in Europe and Asia

Monday 13 May, 2024
A brief look at our Aussies competing in Europe and Asia over the weekend.
The iconic Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps welcomed the FIA World Endurance Championship for a six-hour outing over the weekend and it was mixed results for the two Aussies in action.
While Matt Campbell's hopes of making it three consecutive podiums for the season were dashed on the 64th lap when teammate Michael Christensen crashed the Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963, Yasser Shahin enjoyed a class victory at the Belgian circuit.
Alongside Austrian Richard Lietz and Dutchman Morris Schuring in the Manthey EMA Porsche 911 GT3 R, Shahin played an integral role in helping the team win the LMGT3 class.

It was a result that went right down to the wire, with the Manthey EMA entry taking the lead on the final lap and just holding onto it until the chequered flag.

The result capped off a stunning change of fortunes after the trio failed to score points in the opening two rounds - the victory propelling them to sixth on the standings. 
As for Campbell, despite the disappointing result, the Queenslander made a bit of history earlier in the weekend by securing Team Penske's 100th Sportscar pole. Campbell originally finished eight tenths off the Toyota Gazoo Racing Hypercar of Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryō Hirakawa, only to be elevated to pole post-session following a penalty to the provisional polesitters.
The 6 Hours of Spa wasn't the only European endurance race featuring Aussies, with Brenton and Stephen Grove, Garth Tander and Kiwi Matthew Payne contesting the 24 Hours of Portimão for Grove Racing GT.

While the quartet had a strong start to the weekend, qualifying for the difficult endurance race in third, mechanical dramas around the seven-hour mark forced them back to the pits and ending their race . 

Also taking place in Portugal was the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) Rally de Portugal, which saw Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) star Lewis Bates make his international WRC debut.

Alongside regular co-driver Anthony McLoughlin, Bates used the event to get behind the wheel of his brand-new Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 car, which he will campaign in this year’s ARC season.

Bates and McLoughlin ended up finishing the event 14th in the WRC2 – a decent return considering there were 37 crews entered in the class on the opening day.
Although the 2022 ARC champions had a difficult start to the event, where they were forced to pull out of Friday's afternoon stages due to mechanical dramas, they showed lots of progress as the event went on, finishing inside the top 20 in every stage on Saturday and Sunday. 
Just north of Portugal, Peter Bouzinelos and Griffin Peebles featured in the season opener of the Spanish Formula 4 Championship, with Bouzinelos enjoying a pair of top five finishes.
While he was forced to retire in the last race, it was still a productive outing for Bouzinelos, who finished the weekend sixth on the overall standings - just 30 points off the championship leader.

Peebles had a more challenging weekend, with his best result a 13th in the opening race, which was followed by 23rd in the second and 16th in the final outing. 
The British F4 Championship continued on with its 2024 season over the weekend, with Brands Hatch hosting the second round. 
Alex Ninovic was the only Aussie in action and he had a mixed weekend behind the wheel. Starting off with his second podium for the year, the runner-up finish in the opening race was as good as it got for Ninovic, who finished 17th in the second race before retiring in the last race. 
In Germany, James Wharton and Costa Toparis began their 2024 Formula Regional European Championship campaigns, with the German-based Hockenheimring hosting the season opener.

Wharton had the stronger start out of the two, picking up a second row start for race one and pole position for race two during qualifying. While he converted his first race into a podium finish, sadly, he was forced to retire on the opening lap of the second race due to mechanical dramas.

Toparis also retired in that same race, having finished 28th in the first outing.
Closer to home, a handful of Aussies were competing in prestigious Asian championships, including Jesse Lacey in the Formula Regional Japanese Championship. 
Held at Sportsland Sugo, the round saw Lacey pick up his best haul of results for the year - starting off with a podium and finishing up with a sixth place, which is where he ended the weekend on the standings. 
The Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS second round of the season saw the rest of the Aussies involved, with the Chang International Circuit in Thailand hosting two races.
Scoring the best overall results was Jaylyn Robotham, who finished ninth and 11th overall, as well second and fifth in the Silver-AM class, alongside Chinese teammates Min Heng. 

While he showed lots of pace in the first race, contact from behind in the second race saw him sustain a damaged rear diffuser - ultimately slowing him down for the rest of the race.

Contesting the AM Cup was Andrew Macpherson and William Ben Porter in the AMAC Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R, with the pair picking up a pair of podiums, while Rodney Jane made his series debut and picked a podium in the final race.
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