IT shaped as a nightmare but ended as a fairy tale - Bathurst driver Brad Schumacher went from a high-speed crash to winning both races in his class in the GT World Challenge Australia Series at Mount Panorama.
Contesting the second round of the GT series as part of the Bathurst 6 Hour support program over the Easter weekend, Schumacher was excited to see what he and his all-Bathurst team could do.
As it turns out they not only proved they will be contenders to take out the GT3 Trophy class in the national series, but that they can pull an all-nighter to repair a heavily damaged car.
During the second practice session at Mount Panorama on Friday afternoon, Schumacher was sitting fourth on the time sheet when his right rear tyre failed. At the time he was racing down Conrod Straight and had hit 250 kilometres an hour.
His Kelso Electrical Audi Audi R8 LMS Ultra slammed into the wall. At that stage Schumacher and his team thought it was weekend over.
"It's an incident which isn't really your fault and obviously it's a huge one. We were completely in the dumps, bringing the car back it was a complete wreck and you know I definitely felt at that stage the weekend was over," Schumacher admitted.
"We rendered the car once we pulled it apart potentially repairable and I made to call to go for it and try and make the repairs to it."
The crew worked all night and on Saturday morning, 20 minutes before qualifying, got it on a setup patch.
Given the large amount of damage, Schumacher was nervous heading into that qualifying session saying: "because you just don't know, you don't have the opportunity to shake the car down and Mount Panorama isn't a circuit where you want to be trying your car after a major chassis repair for the first time."
But the car felt good, Schumacher worked it slowly up to pace and put the car in position four to start the opening one-hour race.
It was a race in which he went on to not only be the best performed in his class, but place fourth outright behind Shane Van Gisbergen, Garth Tander and Chaz Mostert.
He started well, climbed to third after 10 minutes, at one stage ran second as drivers completed their compulsory pit stops and after Mostert was handed a stop and go pit lane penalty, Schumacher again found himself in third.
At that stage there was 14 minutes, 10 seconds left and while he did his best to hold off a charging Mostert, the Supercars star got around him at The Cutting on the final lap. Still Schumacher was delighted with the class win.
"The win just makes me so happy because it repays my guys for their efforts, they were up all night ... I just can't thank them enough for the effort that they went to," he said.
"It's all but impossible for me as an amateur driver and only a handful of years experience and first year in this game racing against your top level Supercars, pro drivers.
"Mostert was behind me for two laps and I tried my best to block him, but he was like a caged lion. He was coming up the inside no matter what I tried and at that stage I knew I had to let him through.
"I was in an older model car, we are talking about a car that's homologated from 2015 compared to 2022 homologated cars, they're way better, more technology, much more aero, faster in a straight line."
Race two on Sunday morning saw Schumacher start from position eight but he made up two spots in the run up Mountain Straight.
After his compulsory pit stop he emerged in seventh, but with just under 10 minutes left he had climbed into fifth behind the Pro-Am class Grove Group Porsche.
"I was going to have a bit of a crack at Grove but the guys got on the radio and said 'You don't need to Brad' and just calmed my farm. So I made the mature decision and decided to follow Grove gracefully to the finish line," he said.
"We got the wins. It's as good as it gets, it doesn't get any better.
"I am absolutely pumped for us, it's a total fairy tale story and makes it all worthwhile what the guys did."
The pair of GT3 Trophy wins lifted Schumacher into first place in class after two rounds. His next challenge comes at South Australia's The Bend Motorsport Park from May 7-9.
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