MEDIA RELEASE: Emily Duggan has taken victory in the marquee event for Series X3 NSW, winning yesterday’s thrilling one-hour McAlister Hyundai endurance race at Wakefield Park aboard her Penrite/Supashock/Winmax Hyundai Excel.
Duggan entered the weekend with high expectations after a successful test last weekend, and her confidence was boosted further in Saturday morning’s official practice session, in which she set the fastest-ever lap time for an Excel race car around Wakefield Park.
“Based on the knowledge we gained at the test day, we made some further improvements to the car and straight out of the box the handling was excellent,” Duggan said.
Duggan continued her strong form in qualifying, landing on the front row of the grid for the one-hour race, before using the preliminary sprint races to fine tune the car for the enduro.
“We knew that some drivers were going to be pretty aggressive in the sprint races, so we elected to not get caught up in any battles and concentrate on our own program,” she said.
The enduro was a hotly contested affair – in the opening stint, Duggan held second place behind rival Adam Bryant, while also withstanding pressure from Brendan Vinckx and Tom Muller – for the first 20 minutes, the top four cars were rarely separated by more than a couple of seconds.
“It was an intense battle and all of us were driving absolutely flat out, but at the same time we weren’t dicing for position too ferociously because we knew if we worked together, we would be able to build a margin to the cars behind,” Duggan said.
Duggan’s opportunity to pounce came on lap 22, when Bryant was briefly baulked by a lapped car on the exit of turn 2. Duggan out-accelerated Bryant and assumed the lead.
“I sensed an opportunity with the lapped traffic and I knew I had to take it, because our cars were very closely matched and there were few chances to overtake” Duggan said.
Duggan and Bryant completed their compulsory pit stops on lap 29, rejoining the race still in the lead.
“Both our pit crews did a fantastic job and neither of us gained or lost anything during the pit stops, so I knew it was going to be a genuine fight on track all the way to the end, Duggan said.
Shortly after the pit stops, a Safety Car was deployed when another competitor rolled at turn 2, necessitating a lengthy clean-up process and setting up a grandstand finish with just three laps remaining when the race restarted.
Repelling the concerted attacks from Bryant over the final stages, Duggan took the chequered flag and secured the race victory by a margin of just 0.4s after 60 minutes of racing.
“When I crossed the finish line, I couldn’t believe what had just happened, it was just an amazing feeling,” she said.
“The emotions kicked in straight away, I wanted this race win so badly and it was just a massive wave of happiness to have achieved it.
“A massive thanks to my sponsors Penrite, Supashock and Winmax who have assisted me with technical support and vital components for my car, which were definitely factors in my success today.”
In the coming weeks, Duggan will continue working on plans to compete in national-level motorsport events, while also preparing for the next round of Series X3 NSW, at Sydney Motorsport Park on 20 August.