The Mountain Gives and The Mountain TakesPosted by LeagueRoad February 17, 2022 in
On Tuesday February 15th, 2021 on a brisk night in Austrailia two LunatiK Racing drivers looked to conquer The Mountain of Mount Panorama Circuit in Bathurst Austrailia. Luke Davis and Collin McKenzie were back again competing in the Precision Racing League GT3 Amateur series. With a lack luster previous race on the walled track of Detroit’s Belle Isle, both drivers looked to flip the script and put in a strong performance this week. After racing in the 12 Hours of Bathurst a couple days before, both drivers felt confident going into the race.
Davis was able to put in a 2:04.233 which was good enough for 5th place, a full second off championship leader Jonathan Wager. McKenzie had another disappointing qualifying session which seems to be his downfall at the moment. Only putting in a 2:05.134 was good enough for 12th place on the grid.
#72 Luke Davis Heads up the mountain on Lap 1.
As the lights went green pole sitter Wager took control of the field and bolted. McKenzie was able to get a great start moving up two positions heading into the front straight. Just in front of Davis coming into the quarry bend P4 made an inside move on P3 making contact and slowing down the field behind Davis. As the field headed into the cutting McKenzie was following P9 when he was spun out by the #20 of Alfredo Amador who was two cars behind not paying attention and was late on the brakes. This led him to make contact with the #13 of Miguel Angel Fonseca which made contact with McKenzie spinning him out. Luckily through all the commotion McKenzie’s car was just a little banged up with some aero and cosmetic damage but was otherwise fine to continue racing. McKenzie was P20 as he started racing again trying to get some heat in his tires as the high-speed corners on the top of the mountain posed a threat. With a car spinning directly in front of him he was able sneak away with P19 after the first lap. Davis was ended up losing a spot on the opening lap but was right with the front pack in P6. By Lap 2 McKenzie survived through another wreck which put him into P15 as he was trying to just put in the best race he could. After another couple of laps he closed in on P13 and P12 after gaining another position due to incidents. He made the pass on both of them on the front straight putting him close to a top 10 finish.
#15 McKenzie makes the pass on the #151 of R. Gough and #31 P. Cowgill
Things started to settle in for the remainder of the race as the sun started to set. Davis was running in P6 for a while until another incident occurred in front of him that allowed him to jump to P5. McKenzie was able to snag another position due to another incident on track as well that saw him in P11.
#72 Davis coming through the hi-speed corners heading into Skyline
#15 McKenzie heading up the Mountain Straight after Turn 1.
With just under 19 minutes left in the 40 minute sprint race, Davis who was running P4 decided to make a strategic call and pit with P6 starting to gain time on P5. Seeing a potential battle ensue for 5th, Davis decided to make his pitstop to come out in some clean air and run clean laps to put time on both drivers. Post pitstop actually saw Davis come out in P10, 5 second behind McKenzie who had yet to pit. McKenzie was about 15 seconds behind the next car and had no chance of catching up unless something tragic happened to the cars in front of him. He continued to run his laps and see how far up he could finish. Davis’s strategy did not seem to fully pay off as he ended up in 7th after the pit cycles were complete. With about 5 minutes left to go in the race tragedy struck the #72. Following the #07 of N. Tzanidakis into the Forrest’s Elbow saw them make little contact which unfortunately spun the #07 around and made contact with the #72’s front right giving Davis the meatball flag. Davis had to pit after the incident and take repairs to get the car back on track. He still managed to finish the race in P14.
#72 Davis in the Forrest’s Elbow Pre Accident.
McKenzie was making his was down the mountain when he ran into the #07 coming back on track and started following along. McKenzie was P9 and within striking distance of P8. The white flag came down as the last lap started with McKenzie under half a second from P8. He lost some time at the top of the mountain trying to avoid the #07 who clearly had some damage and was unable to keep the gap small enough for the back straight. As they headed down the backstraight McKenzie was .04 seconds back from Tzanidakis and tried to make an all or nothing move in The Chase with having P9 easily in his grasp. He did not make the move happen and went off track and missed his opportunity for 8th. He Finished in 9th position, a great finish from how the race started for him.
#15 McKenzie coming through McPhillamy Park.
Both drivers will be back state side next Tuesday February, 22nd at 9:40pm EST to take on Watkins Glen. Davis still holds onto 4th place in the driver championship scoring 17 points finishing in P14. He will need a strong push in these last two races and some good luck to try and secure a top 3 finish in the league. McKenzie moved up to 6th position scoring 22 points in his 9th place finish to make a push in the standings. In the team championship LunatiK still holds onto 4th place only 12 points down from 3rd. Hoping for a strong two finishes from both drivers in the last two races will help propell the team championship even higher.