Having experienced Melbourne’s typical late-Spring ‘four-seasons-in-one-day’ conditions on many occasions in past years, Trofeo Motorsport were more than prepared for the third round of the CAMS Australian GT Championships at Sandown Raceway, although they – like the bulk of the field – weren’t always able to predict exactly what Mother Nature would throw at them.
Despite that, Jim Manolios – who ran alone for the first time this year – pronounced himself more than happy with his performance across the three 40-minute races, where had things gone slightly differently with strategy, he would have finished inside the top ten to add to a string of personal bests across the weekend.
Qualifying was in dry conditions but still challenging, although Manolios admitted he had a fantastic time and was on course for one of his best ever qualifying performances before being caught in traffic late in the session forcing him to settle for the tenth row of the grid, just over two seconds off the pace-setters.
Race one saw the #29 Lamborghini just outside the top ten heading to the compulsory pit stop, where the team gambled with strategy, electing to leave him on wet weather tyres rather than lose time changing all four tyres, a strategy that would have paid off comfortably as many of the teams around him elected to change to slicks despite more threatening weather.
In the end, the rain ultimately stayed away, with the track drying significantly over the final ten minutes, the team losing their early advantage with Manolios ultimately classified 18th at the flag.
Dry conditions on Sunday meant the weather would not play as great a factor, Manolios carding two 15th placed finishes to collect a strong haul of points and some great data for the coming rounds.
“Race one could have gone either way in the conditions, and whilst the team ultimately made the wrong choice, I supported the decision 100%,” Manolios reflected post-race.
“As for races two and three, I was very happy with the way we completed the weekend. To be fair, I needed to improve my contribution to have been faster at the start of the weekend because by the end of the final race, I was matching the other Am drivers, which was very satisfying.
“The car is exceptional, one of the best cars I’ve driven as a gentleman driver, so adaptable, so comfortable to push with and it gives me lots of confidence. At the start of the weekend it didn’t have the turn-in I was looking for, but the team very quickly dialed it in to a point where I was able to push really hard in both wet and dry conditions and that’s all anyone could ask for, overall I’m ecstatic with the way the weekend played out.”
Sadly for Manolios, his tilt at a top ten championship finish will all but come to an end at Phillip Island, the Haemokinesis/Trofeo Motorsport Team Principal committed overseas on the same weekend, however Trofeo Motorsport is looking to field the menacing #29 Huracan GT3 in an effort to lay even stronger foundations on their path to the 2019 Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.