Kiwi race car driver Richie Stanaway has helped the Johor Motorsports Racing Team finish with a podium at the Sydney round of Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia after a thrilling runner-up performance in the opening race.
Powered by Triple Eight Race Engineering, Stanaway and race partner, the Malaysian prince of Johor, His Highness Jefri Ibrahim, charged to P2 after starting the race on the third row of the grid.
Prince Jefri Ibrahim drove a consistent opening stint to hold onto fourth position to the mandatory driver change, where the former Supercars driver, Stanaway got behind the wheel.
The Tauranga-born racer went on a charge, setting a new GT3 lap record as his Mercedes-AMG sliced the 20-second gap between himself and first place. For seven thrilling minutes, Stanaway threw everything at the defensively-driving race leader, ultimately crossing the finish line less than half a second behind the winner.
Meanwhile, in the team’s other car, Supercars legend Jamie Whincup and His Highness Abu Bakar Ibrahim finished P6 after getting spun around by a GT4 competitor’s car late in the race.
Sunday’s race began in dramatic fashion as Stanaway – positioned on the front of the grid – was hit by another car off the start, then again in the first turn, which led to the retirement of the 888 car.
“The first race was a great one, both for myself and for the team,” said Stanaway. “We showed really competitive pace, and we proved that by breaking the fastest GT3 lap-time that had stood since 2016. It felt really good to be in the podium positions.
“It was disappointing to be out so early in [Race 2], but these things can happen in motorsport. I’m looking forward to getting involved in the Asian series in a couple of weeks’ time at Okayama.”
However, the same race was a successful outing for Whincup and the younger of the Malaysian princes, as they capitalised on incidents early in the race to clinch a satisfying P3 result.
“We had a cracking weekend at Sydney Motorsport Park,” said Whincup. “There was a huge crowd, you couldn’t ask for better weather for the middle of July, and we had a reasonable weekend on track.
“Richie was a standout performer on Saturday, coming through the field and nearly getting the win, and Prince Abu Bakar was the massive standout on Sunday. He did an unbelievably good job coming through the field to finish P3.
While we had a P3 on our side [on Sunday], it unfortunately all went wrong off the start for our other car; Richie ended up with a punctured tyre, and that was the end of their day. All-in-all, we’re happy, and we’re looking forward to the next round at Queensland Raceway.”
Round five of the 2023 Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia will be held at Queensland Raceway in Ipswich on 11-13 August.