Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia Powered by AWS – Round 5, Queensland Raceway, QLD
Johor Motorsports Racing Team has clinched another round podium result at the fifth round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia at Queensland Raceway as His Highness Tunku Abu Bakar Al-Haj Ibni Sultan Ibrahim and pro driver Jamie Whincup finished the weekend with two P3 results and a breakthrough Top 10 Shootout victory.
At the same time, His Highness Tunku Abdul Rahman Al-Haj Ibni Sultan Ibrahim and race partner, Broc Feeney, finished P5 and P6 in the weekend’s two races.
Her Majesty Raja Zarith Sofiah Binti Almarhum Sultan Idris Shah, the Permaisuri of Johor, and other members of the Johor Royal Family made a special trip to watch the racing.
Powered by Triple Eight Racing, the JMR team established themselves as race-winning threats from the outset, with all drivers finishing inside the top seven during Saturday’s qualifying sessions.
Tunku Abu Bakar was the top qualifying performer, with a second-fastest lap-time in the Mercedes-AMG GT3.
After an early attempt to snatch the race lead, Tunku Abu Bakar settled into P2, before handing over driving duties to Whincup to close out the race with a hard-fought third place result.
Meanwhile, Tunku Abdul Rahman and race partner Broc Feeney drove a solid race to improve on their seventh-placed starting position to finish P6.
Sunday’s racing got off to a scorcher for JMR, with Tunku Abu Bakar claiming his first-ever pole position in the new Top 10 qualifying shootout format. The young prince’s lap-time of 1m8.581s beat his nearest rival by 0.3s, allowing Whincup to start Sunday’s race from the front of the grid.
Tunku Abdul Rahman finished a creditable P7 in the same session.
In the final race of the weekend, Whincup maintained the advantage and led the pack into the mandatory pit-stop and driver change. Tunku Abu Bakar continued to show good pace and hold the lead, but was spun off the track with 10 minutes remaining. He regrouped to finish third in the race and claim his first Australian round podium for the year.
Meanwhile, Broc Feeney and Tunku Abdul Rahman drove hard to work their way into a satisfying P5 result in the final race.
To cap off a memorable weekend, Tunku Abdul Rahman surprised Her Majesty with a birthday cake and celebration in the team garage after racing was completed.
The JMR team will now fly straight out to rounds nine and 10 of the GT World Challenge Asia at Okayama, Japan. Tunku Abu Bakar is leading that championship.
HH Tunku Abu Bakar Ibrahim: “It’s awesome to have the support of my mother, brother, sister and her family here as we raced this weekend at Queensland Raceway. Hopefully she was happy with my result, as that’s what’s important to me. It was a shame to get spun out of a race-winning position today, but a round podium is very good, and it was nice to surprise my mother with a cake for her birthday today.”
Jamie Whincup: “It was a great result to finish P3 for the weekend, especially in front of the Johor Royal Family, who were out here this weekend to watch the princes race. It was very nice to reward them with a podium, and to celebrate Her Majesty’s birthday with her today. On the whole it was a very good weekend and it sets the team up nicely for next weekend’s race at Okayama.”
Results – 2023 Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia, Queensland Raceway
HH Tunku Abu Bakar Ibrahim – P2
Jamie Whincup – P4
Broc Feeney – P6
HH Tunku Jefri Ibrahim – P7
Top 10 Shootout:
HH Tunku Abu Bakar Ibrahim – P1
HH Tunku Jefri Ibrahim – P7
HH Tunku Jefri Ibrahim/Broc Feeney – P3
HH Tunku Abu Bakar Ibrahim /Jamie Whincup – P6
Jamie Whincup/HH Tunku Abu Bakar Ibrahim – P3
Broc Feeney /HH Tunku Jefri Ibrahim – P5
Image credit: Edge Photographics