Drivers set to scorch Winton

BIG FIELD: Last year’s eventual winners Nick Cancian and Rob Hay in their Mazda MX5 Turbo lead the field during last year’s Winton 300. PHOTO: Rene Martens

QUALIFYING is set to play a deciding factor in the Winton 300 endurance event, according to local drivers Matt Thewlis and Daniel Van Der Heyden.

Regarded as the pinnacle of club-level endurance car races in Australia, the 100-lap race has attracted enough interest that organisers have been forced to split it into two races: a “B-main” for the slower cars followed by the main event for the outright contenders.

Thewlis will tee up with co-driver John McIlroy in a Tampered Motorsport Mazda MX5 while Van Der Heyden will race his Holden VN Commodore with Corey Gooch.

A late car and co-driver change scrambled Thewlis after original partner Steve Harrison and his MX5 pulled out.

McIlroy has an experienced racing career, including history in Sports Sedans, production cars including the defunct three-hour Showroom Showdown event at the Bathurst 1000, and according to Thewlis, a nine-year gap since his last competitive race does not hinder any confidence.

The duo tested the car at Winton on Tuesday and pulled a best one minute 42 second lap, which Thewlis said could be on the edge of qualifying in either race.

“We’ll aim to run the A main race, but if we don’t scrape in we could be half a chance at winning the B main race,” Thewlis said.

“Either way we’ll drive the car flat out and give it our best shot in either race.”

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