Kiwi racer Madeline Stewart says she is not considering competing at Bathurst this year due to travel complications and border closures in Australia.
This year Stewart has contested in both the Super3 championship in a Brad Jones Racing-prepared Commodore, as well as the new Aussie Tin Tops series with McElrea Racing in a Porsche 911 GT3.
Both classes are pencilled in on the support schedule for this year’s Bathurst 1000 enduro which would have offered Stewart two enticing options to enter.
However, a mandated two-week isolation period upon her return home to Queensland from Bathurst has seen Stewart shelve her plans to compete at Mt. Panorama this year.
“At this stage I won’t be competing at Bathurst,” Stewart told Velocity News.
“The Queensland border restrictions mean that if I go to Bathurst, I will need to quarantine in a hotel for 14 days when I return home. It is really bad timing for me. I’ve been working all year on a new business and October is a critical time for me.
“The rest of the year is still a bit up in the air. I’ve got some go-karting coming up with Queensland State Titles. I will also do some more test days in the Porsche and I have a run in a Super2 car.”
Last weekend Stewart ran in the second round of the Aussie Tin Tops championship in a Porsche 911 GT3. The car sported her current Super3 colour scheme and was supported by fellow New Zealander Andy McElrea.
It was Stewart’s first time in a GT car since her test with Earl Bamber Motorsport in Sepang in the lead up to the Asia Porsche Carrera Cup.
Her weekend started shaky with the opening two races punctuated by a spin and a dash sensor failure. But she capped off the meeting with a strong drive from 18th to 12th in the final race.
Stewart says she was happy with how the event unfolded and was impressed in how she adapted from the Super3 to the GT3.
“I enjoyed racing the Porsche Cup car at The Bend. Racing in the Aussie Tin Tops allowed me to try something different and build on the test I did with Earl Bamber Motorsport in February.
“Overall, I was pleased with how I progressed over the three races even though it didn’t always go smoothly.
“Qualifying was wet, and it was the first time I’d driven a Porsche in those conditions. So, I was pretty happy with 11th given the circumstances.
“The races were a progressive grid format meaning you start each race where you finished the last.
“So I finished the third race in 12th, almost back where I started the weekend. It would have been nice to have finished further up, but I felt the third race was my best, so it was a good way to end the weekend.
“The Porsche has quite a different technique to the Super3 car. You have more grip and better braking. But, equally, I like driving the Super3 car as well. It’s tough to beat the raw V8 power and the skill it takes to drive it.”
Now with no Bathurst plans on the horizon, Stewart hinted at a possible return to New Zealand to fill in some racing.
Similarly, she is tossing up between another stint in the Super2/3 championship next year or a full-on switch to Porsche racing.
“We’ve not finalised any plans for next year, but Porsche Sprint Cup Challenge is a possibility along with Super2/3,” she said.
“I’d like to do some racing in New Zealand as well when we can travel back there again.”
“A lot will depend on what racing gets going next year. Hopefully the boarders will be opened soon and we can get back to normal.”
Image: Stewart Sisters Racing