The third round of the Sergeant Secuirty Australian GT Championship was held on the weekend at Winton Raceway. Peter Hackett in the Erebus Racing Mercedes Benz SLS GT3 was dominant, taking two wins from the two, one hour races. We were able to catch up with him after the event.
Hi Peter, thanks for joining me – another great weekend for you!
Yeah, it was a little unexpected for us. We were struggling in the wet. On Friday we had a changeable conditions and that was reflected in the times. We were second in practice two and we were looking for a wet weekend. We are still developing the car for the dry pace – we were a little disappointed with our qualifying pace [in the dry] and were scratching our heads.
In race one we got a fantastic start on the outside and we also had great out and in laps for the pitstops and got the job done basically. It was a fantastic result for the team. But we have won the first race at rounds before and our second race hasn’t been particularly flash – particularly at Clipsal and Phillip Island this year. We were under a bit of pressure, particularly internally to back it up with, at least a result of some description in race two.
The second race was dry but we planned our stops properly and managed our tyres – made some changes to the car. It was really predictable throughout the run and towards the end of the race we were hunting Klark down. I think we would have got him – even without the safety car. Unfortunately he got a puncture during the safety car period, so we ended not having to press on during the last three laps.
It was a fantastic result for Erebus Racing – our first round win and it was fantastic to represent SLS GT3 Customer Sport like that.
It is almost hard to believe it is your first round win – as if you get to the finish line you seem to be first.
Yeah – that’s pretty much it! We were leading at Clipsal in race 1 and were taken out by a backmarker and didn’t start race 2. We effectively led race 2 at Phillip Island other than the pitstop areas and got taken out. We’ve almost led every lap of every race that we have finished. The car has absolutely had pace but we have struggled for that one lap performance – which we are working on.
It was a bit like at Clipsal – the car must be perfect for it to go on track. We are not going to straighten it with a crowbar and hope it will be all right. That is not how we work and not how a Mercedes Benz SLS is represented on a racetrack.
Next time at Sydney Motorsports Park [the new name for Eastern Creek] – long straights and flowing corners, different to Winton – will it suit the Mercedes?
Well – everything that I have ever raced at Eastern Creek had gone well at Phillip Island. So if you are good at Phillip Island, it should work well at Sydney Motorsports Park. I believe that we are on the original track – not the new section – the only corner that will change is turn six with a kink in the braking area. It is a little bit of an unknown. We did debut the SLS at Eastern Creek last year and it went well there. We have learnt a lot about it since then and the regulations have changed in terms of ride height and weight from last year too. We have some really good momentum and we are now second in the Championship by just 1 point. Considering we have only finished 50% of the races this year – it is a remarkable effort. We have won each race we have finished. We just have to finish more races with the same philosophy.
After the last round at Phillip Island James Brock had the crash – we saw him in the Mosler this time round. I guess the Mercedes wasn’t repaired in time. How big of an effort was it to get in the Mosler?
It was huge. The decision came very late that wouldn’t have the car ready for him in time. It wasn’t the extent of the damage that was the problem, rather the number of components that needed to be replaced. It was nothing major – just getting all the little bits back into it – the front, rear and sides. It was a bit like at Clipsal – the car must be perfect for it to go on track. We are not going to straighten it with a crowbar and hope it will be all right. That is not how we work and not how a Mercedes Benz SLS is represented on a racetrack. Clearly if it comes down to the last lap on the last race but at this point in the season, we want a car that is brand new in terms of its repair fix for the rest of the season – that is our philosophy.
It must be good – we see a lot of growth in the Championship and as we saw at Winton with you and the Mosler and Tony Quinn leasing his Ferrari to Maranello – there is growth in the Championship and the competitors also look out for each other.
The category is definitely growing and the higher profile drivers are also seeing that we have a lot of nice cars, competitive racing. We have had John Bowe and Allan Simonsen; at Winton we had Johnny Reid and James Winslow, Cam McConville and Tim Slade, David Russell – with all these high profile drivers we are getting more attention to the Series. But also the competitiveness of the racing is increasing and the guys at the front take it very seriously. Now at the front, there are arguably six to eight cars that can win at each round. Both the Ferraris can win, both the SLS can win, there is Lambo of Lago, Aston Martins, the Ford, Crick and the Audis – so there is probably more that can come and win on any given day. I think that is creating the good racing with is attracting the interest of the other competitors and the fans too.
I’ll imagine though I’ll be talking to you after Eastern Creek and you should probably give the others a chance!
[Laughs] Yeah thank- you very much!
Interview by Sam Tickell, June 2012
Photo courtesy of Christian Hartung – Amore Photography
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