Griffin Makes Podium Down Under
February 18, 2013 by Tony Gregory
Irish GT driver Matt Griffin got has 2013 season of to a promising start by making the podium at last weekends Bathurst 12 hour endurance race in NSW Australia. The newly signed Ram Racing driver was fulfilling a prior commitment to Singapore-based Clearwater Racing. An heroic performance saw the Ferrari team go one position better than last year, as their Ferrari 458 GT3 ended the day second after being in contention for much of the first half of the race.
The fast growing reputation of this Southern hemisphere enduro was born out in practice with the first five cars in Practice One separated by just 0.89 of a second. Audi, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Corvette and Mercedes were all represented in the top five but outright supremacy fell to Christopher Mies who pushed his Audi R8 LMS Ultra to a best time of a 2m 09.8768, Mies’s lap was good enough to hold off a charging Matt Griffin who posted a 2m 09.8794 in the Clearwater Racing Ferrari F458.
In Qualifying Lee Holdsworth put the Erebus Motorsport Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 on provisional pole position in the morning’s first qualifying session, setting his fastest lap 21 minutes into the session, his best of 2m 06.22s just 0.2s away from the benchmark time allowed in the session. Dane Allan Simonsen pushed the Maranello Motorsport Ferrari 458 to a stunning lap of 2m05.4908s smashing the benchmark time and earned the team a 50kg weight penalty for the race. This lost them their fastest lap – relegating the no.88 Ferrari to second place with their second best lap time – 2m06.4839s.
The Clearwater Racing Ferrari 458 of Craig Baird, Matt Griffin and Mok Weng Sung timed third-fastest, Griffin’s 2m06.9985s lap just 0.5s behind the leading Erebus Mercedes. With no-one in the top ten going quicker in the afternoon session the starting positions stayed the same.
As the race got underway lead drivers Craig Baird and Irish ace Matt Griffin were in superb form, but unfortunately contact by team owner Mok Weng Sung with another car mid-race saw the team drop of the lead lap – a lap they would never get back. Early in the race Griffin made up more than two minutes after an early safety car saw them ‘misplaced’ in the running order – costing them nearly a full lap that was skilfully recovered by the flying Irishman.
Baird replicated his team-mate’s efforts later in the race, a Bathurst stint of the ages lifting the car from being out of podium contention to back in the hunt and eventually in contention for their eventual second-place finish.
Matt Griffin commented after the race “Yeah I know it is brilliant to be back. I mean this race and this track is just something else. Yeah it is harder in the car this year and for an Irishman I’m not sure what I would prefer sliding around in the rain or burning up inside the car. Last year was just really tough, it was probably one of the toughest races I have ever done. So yeah, I am hoping it will stay dry this year. I wouldn’t mind the temperature dropping a few notches though.”