M2 Motorsport – V8 SuperTourer's 'Team Wellington' – signed off its third race weekend and the end of the SuperTourer season in style with a 5th place race finish on an action-packed weekend.
Simon McLennan and Cameron Waters confirmed the promise shown at Pukekohe with a further step up the order in their Holden SuperTourer, mixing it with the more established drivers and teams in both races and winning plenty of support from the big crowd at the Mike Pero Real Estate 350. The team was also right on the pace in qualifying, with Waters lining up 5th and McLennan 11th.
"Cam was impressive especially after a tyre issue side-lined him for most of his session," said McLennan. "We made the decision to bring forward a chassis change for my qualifying run that we were planning for Race 1, but we went a little slower as a result. Thankfully though, it was only qualifying that suffered and we knew we would be in good shape for the races."
The first race had a spectacular start with cars off track and dust everywhere in Turn 1 and again a couple of corners later but McLennan, starting the first race, somehow managed to keep his car out of the trouble.
"It was a battle for survival on that first lap," he said. "At one stage I could not see anything in front of me at all with cars spinning and rubber smoking. After that though, we settled into a nice groove and I handed the car over to Cam in 10th. We profited from some interesting driving ahead, but we were also strong on pace and fifth place was a great reward for the team after the 'what might have been' at Pukekohe.
In the second race, a great start by Cameron Waters saw the car battling with Jono Webb and Jack Perkins for third but the car's pace fell away later in the race after the drivers spotted an oil leak inside the car. Contact with one of the International Motorsport cars after a frenetic post-Safety Car restart added damaged steering to the team's concerns and after two very cautious laps, the boys knuckled down as best they could at a reduced pace and brought the car home in 12th.
"The big highlights for us this weekend were seeing the car up towards the sharp end in both races. We're completely new to any type of V8 racing and we learn every time the car goes out. So seeing it running and finishing in the top five was a great buzz for the drivers and the team."
McLennan – who is planning to get some extra seat time in over the summer as part of his 2013 preparations - is hopeful that he and family team M2 will also carry on what has been an eye-catching partnership with young Aussie star Waters in future endurance races.
"It always gets easier the more time you spend with your co-driver and it's been great having Cam in the team for the last two enduros. He's plenty quick and provides very good feedback. He enjoys having a laugh around the garage as well which suits me fine as I like to joke around a bit too.
"We're learning a lot about the car, what it needs, what it wants and what we need to do logistically as a small team to deliver that over a weekend. We are nearly there and we just know we will be stronger when we take to the track again at the starts of season two.
"The idea for us was to get three rounds under the belt before we have a full tilt at the championship next year. I think if someone was to say that we would card a top five in these first three rounds I would have looked at them sideways. That is not to doubt our ability - it was more about being realistic. So in that regard we are extremely satisfied with our progress. The car is already being stripped down in preparation for next season. The team will take a nice rest over the break and we will then re-group, have a brain storm session and go from there."