Team Report: Gartner Thrives in the Townsville Heat

Still on a high after carving up the red centre during the Tatts Finke Desert Race, Greg Gartner beat off the winter blues by returning to the hot seat of the #410 R&J Batteries Stadium Super Truck at the Townsville 400 alongside the V8 Supercars. Joining Gartner in the tropics would be 11 other drivers, including international stars Robby Gordon and Sheldon Creed.

The Stadium Super Trucks had six outings over the three days on the 13 turn, 2.85km long Townsville street circuit. A daily qualifying session set the scene before the trucks brought the crowd to their feet in the feature race each afternoon. Where the trucks launched skyward off the 5 ramps placed around the track and battled it out panel to panel on the tarmac.

With a busy race schedule and little time for repairs between races, Gartner kept the #410 R&J Batteries Stadium Super Truck tidy in Fridays first race. Jumping from 8th on the grid up the 5th when he greeted the chequered flag. “There was no need to get involved in any tangles at this stage of the weekend, so I just settled in to the groove and picked off a few and raced our own race.”

Running fifth in Saturday mornings qualifying session, Gartner started out of eighth on the reverse grid. With the suspension fine tuned and a minor brake issue resolved Gartner quickly moved through the field, however a spin on the Dunlop hairpin saw him slip back before settling into 7th when the competition yellow was waved. In the four lap charge to the finish Gartner was hot on the heels of Indy car drivers Matt Brabham and EJ Viso and moved into sixth when the Venezuelan spun, clipping the bonnet of the #410 R&J Batteries truck on the way through.

Sunday’s final race was in front of a packed house and the Stadium Super Trucks produced some of the closest racing of the weekend for the grand finale. Starting alongside Robby Gordon on the 4th row of the grid, Gartner worked his way through the field in to 4th and went toe to toe with Arie Luyendyk Jr. The pair put on a show for the crowd as they launched side by side off the Toyo Tires and Traxxas jumps with the pedal to the metal down the Townsville pit straight. However when Creed came through for a pass on the final lap his engine cut out forcing Gartner to pull up and sacrifice a couple of places. Crossing the finish line in sixth, the entertainment didn’t stop with Gartner unleashing the power of the V8 in a tyre smoking expression session to the delight of the Stadium Super Truck fans.
“I enjoyed the Townsville street circuit. It was a real drivers track that made you think. It wasn’t overly fast but quick enough, especially around the back where there were lots of blind corners and all walls when you came hooking around. Getting the trucks to turn around those really sharp corners took a bit. It was something different to the other tracks we’ve raced on.”

The overall standings over the three race Townsville 400 would see Sheldon Creed take the overall win ahead of Matt Brabham in second and Paul Morris in third. A consistent haul of points rewarded Greg Gartner with 6th overall in the #410 R&J Batteries Stadium Super Truck.
“A big thanks to our sponsors R&J Batteries, Toyo Tyres Australia, Fuchs, ATI Industrial, Craig Carrision Race Engines, JB Irrigation, CAPPA Motorbodies and Albins for their support of our race program.”

While Gartners next SST race won’t be until October at the Gold Coast 600, there is little time for rest with the final round of the Australian Off Road Championship just around the corner. On July 22-24 in South Australia’s Riverland, Greg Gartner and his navigator Jamie Jennings will slide back behind the wheel of the big #410 Ford Extreme 2wd truck that took them to a solid 4th outright at Finke. The pair are currently 6th outright on the very congested AORC leaderboard and with plenty of points up for grabs at the Riverland Enduro, they will be aiming to finish the 2016 AORC season in style.

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