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RESULTS: Porsche Pro Challenge with Aaron Zerefos

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Last night saw 11 hotshots contest the Bathurst track against Aaron Zerefos of Fiji Water. Aaron has a pro drive in the upcoming 12 hour race and has kindly offered 2 free tickets and a guided pit tour to the winner of the race.


The sydney guys were keen to see who was going to hit the track first and post a benchmark time. This is when Tim Harrison,Ben Beasley,Rob Cooper and Enda Murphy from the Gold Coast hit the track and showed some great pace. Soon after, all the Sydney drivers dropped their Monster Energy drinks and quickly hopped on knowing that this was going to get serious real quick. Unable to change the car settings due to a fixed setup the boys spent the first 30 mins figuring out how they were going to keep it off the wall and try and judge when and if a pitstop was needed. By the end of practice some competitve lap times were being set with David Lord and Michael Palladino breaking into the high 2min 7secs.


If the practice session was anything to go by the Qualify session was going to be very important to get to the pointy end of the start grid. In knowing that there was a bit of a traffic jam in pit lane as everyone was trying to give each other room to qualify. After all was sorted some hot laps were definately appearing on the scoreboard.Rob Cooper from the Gold Coast was starting to show his true colours as he found himself moving towards the top, he eventually qualified in 5th just ahead of the Tran brothers,only 0:00:010 seperating the 3 of them. Mark Kearon was showing good times in practice but was sitting in P8 with 5 sec's to go. He just crossed the line to start his final qually lap and nailed P3 with a 2:08:327 just pipping Tim Harrison. Aaron found it hard to get a clean lap in while David Lord had no trouble in taking out Pole position with a 2:07:560 ahead of Michael Palladinino in P2.

Pos Driver Time
1. David Lord 2:07:560
2. Michael Palladino 2:08:038
3. Mark Kearon 2:08:327
4. Tim Harrison 2:08:367
5. Robert Cooper 2:12:339
6. Jimmy Tran 2:12:341
7. Benny Tran 2:12:350
8. Michael Gray 2:12:654
9. Ben Beasley 2:13:174
10. Sam Owen 2:14:038
11. Enda Murphy 2:15:697
12. Aaron Zerefos 2:20:163


This was building to be a fantastic race.With dawn breaking over the horizon the boys rolled off on their formation lap as this was going to be a rolling start. Some guys took the opportunity to warm up the tyres and settle into their race seats while others tried a bit too hard and found themselves facing the wrong way. A quick correction and they were back underway. You could feel the drivers were getting nervous as they rolled around the track. Not exactly sure as to what happened on Conrod straight but not too much damage was felt.

The pace car rolled off into pit lane and it was up to the Pole sitter, David Lord to set the start of the race. Rolling around Murray's Corner and off they go. David seemed to be borked by an instruction from the clark of the course which saw Michael Palladino sneak up the inside into T1 but David would retain the lead after Lap 1. The biggest gain by lap 2 was Tim Harrison who slipped up 2 spots to get into P2. The biggest loser of the opening laps was Rob Cooper as he dropped 6 positions after coming together with Enda Murphy. Rob will have his work cut out for him but it is an hour long race and as you know anything can happen in motor racing. Coming in to complete Lap 3 Tim Harrison over shot the exit of Murrays Corner and dropped 2 places into P4. This was soon repeated on Lap 6 by Mark Kearon who also over shot the corner and found himself beached on the ripple strip falling back into P5 behind Michael Gray. Michael was slowly creeping up the positions taking advantage of other people mistakes. This saw him climb up into P3 before himself making a couple of errors and crashing on Lap 8.

Sam Owen had pitted early to take advantage of fresher tyres as this would help him keep the car stable up over Skyline. It was thought that a pit stop was definately required during the race so Sam was trying to cover it off early but it didn't pay off for him. Our first DNF came at Lap 10 with Enda Murphy retiring due to fatigue sustained from an injury.

We are half way through and there is still nothing between Michael Palladino and David Lord. Only 1.5 seconds sepeating the pair. A solid scrap between Mark Kearon and Robert Cooper in P3 & P4. Considering Ben Beasley's track time he is doing considerably well holding off Jimmy and Benny Tran. Ben has patiently just waitied for the right moment to progress up the field. Aaron was finding the going tough racing the sim racers as he was carrying suspension damage from the opening lap altercation. He came in for a very clean pistop on Lap 14 and did well to carry the car home to the end. 

Benny Tran needed to serve a drive through penalty for speeding in the pits and found it hard to come back as Jimmy Tran crashed on Lap 15 coming down Skyline. This has to be the hardest place to turn the car around without taking anyone else out along the way.

Mark Kearon, Tim Harrison and Michael Gray were all swapping positions throughout the race until the battle for 3rd and 4th was left to just Mark and Tim. With 10 minutes to go everyone was looking at the tyre wear calculating whether to pit for tyres. David Lord who had been leading for the entire race would make the bold decision to pit on Lap 23. We are sure David was hoping that Michael Palladino would follow him in but it was not the case. By the time David rejoined the track he was trailing Michael by 30 seconds. Mark Kearon also pitted as his tyre indicators were turning black. He had conceeded 2 places in the process. Mark would soon regain 1 position with 2 laps to go to finish in 4th place. David on the other hand had 5 laps to catch Michael and was making progress as he was lapping at least 3 seconds quicker but there was just not enough laps left in the race to regain his position. This meant that he would finish in 2nd only 18 seconds behind the eventual winner Michael Palladino.

A fantastic race was had by all and the boys got out of there cars absolutely exhausted sporting the biggest grins on thier faces. with about 3 seperate battles going on within the feild they all had something to talk about. A special mention must go out to Rob Cooper who after the first lap lost 6 positions worked his way back up to finish in 5th overall. Congratulations to Mark Kearon who worked hard over the last few days to run a solid race and score the fastest lap of the race with a 2:08:355.

Racecentre would like to thank all the drivers for an awesome race and a special thanks goes to Aaron Zerefos for donating the winning tickets and offering the lucky driver a guided tour around his pit garage. Let us know how your day goes. We wish you the best of luck in the Bathurst 12 hour Aaron.

Full Results:
Pos Driver Gap
1. Michael Palladino --
2. David Lord 0:08:781
3. Tim Harrison 1:18:146
4. Mark Kearon 1:35:232
5. Robert Cooper 1:45:829
6. Ben Beasley DNF
7. Michael Gray +1 Lap
8. Benny Tran +2 Laps
9. Jimmy Tran DNF
10. Sam Owen +4 Laps
11. Aaron Zerefos +4 Laps
12. Enda Murphy DNF

By Shane Gilfeather.


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