TOP TEN FINISH FOR MORCOM ON DEBUT AT ADAC GT MASTERS
MONDAY 5 MAY 2014
For twenty-two year old Australian driver, Nathan Morcom, his adventures at the opening round of the super competitive ADAC GT Masters Championship last weekend were a true baptism of fire.

Morcom, in his first race on European soil, walked away with a top ten finish and points on the board, after he and co-driver Mario Farnbacher delivered the goods, aboard the Farnbacher Racing Porsche GT3R, in what was a highly chaotic race weekend.

Let's rewind to the beginning of April to get the complete picture of how it all came about, when Nathan first arrived in Germany.

After settling in to his Bavarian digs, Nathan was off to test his race car for the very first time, seaside circuit of Zandvoort, in Holland.
Mario gives Nathan some driving tips, whilst his brother and team manager Dominik looks on.

With noise restrictions in place at Zandvoort, a modified exhaust and rear splitter were installed, which, when combined did not give a the true performance perspective of the 500HP Porsche. But this was more of an acclimatisation exercise, rather than trying to deliver lap times, since Nathan's GT3 car experience was limited to a single day at Donington Park, last October, in the 888 UK BMW Z4.

It was a successful day, with both FBR team cars on track.

Sebastian Asch, the 2012 ADAC GT Masters Champion had joined the squad for the 2014 season and was instantly quick. Mario Farnbacher was also on hand to assist with setup on both cars and provide a balanced frame of reference.

Fast forward one week and the team was in Oscherleben for the official two day test.

Nathan used the two days to further familairise himself with the car and circuit, making strong progress. Philipp Fromenwiller was also present and he and his co driver Asch topped the time sheets as the event closed.

Things were looking good for the opening, only two weeks away.

Nathan in qualifying at Oschersleben.

The depth of talent in the 2014 ADAC GT Masters is both diverse and immense with eight different marques offering their race-spec GT3 machinery including Audi, Lamborghini, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Corvette, Chevrolet, McLaren and of course the most popular brand, Porsche.

And then there's the drivers, from retired F1 stars like Heinz-Harald Fretzen who after replacing Damon Hill at Williams F1,was runner up to Jacques Villeneuve in the 1997 F1 World Championship, World Endurance Championship expert like Nicki Thiim and DTM female driver Rahel Frey.

Mario Farnbacher, Nathan Morcom, 2012 ADAC GT Masters Champion Sebastian Asch and Philipp Fromenwiller.

As the practice sessions unravelled on Friday, all was not well in the FBR camp.

Two weeks ago the cars had pace but for some unknown reason the exact same setup was leaving the guys a second of the pace and much head scratching by the engineering team. The cars we both realigned to make sure that everything was spot on yet it still failed to deliver the lap times expected which resulted in P14 and P16 for car 6 and 5 respectively.

Nathan was philosophical, none the less.

"I've virtually no experience in these type of cars compared to Philipp, Seb and Mario so I can't really give a lot of input other than to agree with them that we are getting entry and mid push in the slow corners. It's almost as if we have a different compound to the test day.

Qualifying was even less spectacular, with car 6 finding it slower going than practice, despite fresh rubber, whilst Nathan found himself almost at the rear of the grid. However, put in perspective, there was less than 3 seconds between pole (Prosperia C.Abt Racing Audi R8 Ultra LMS of Rene Rast) and his own time on a 3.7km circuit.

Mario starts race one from P14 only to be shunted out of the race at the end of lap one by the #2 runaway Corvette.

As far as a start to a season goes, by the end of the first race everyone was in tears!

Philipp had found himself caught out wide on the first corner and forced off track into the tyres, forcing a quick pitstop. Mario was less fortunate, being uncerimoniously punted off by the #2 Corvette and into the unescapable gravel trap at T1 at the end of L2 resulting in a DNF.

The second race unravelled as quite an alarming event.

Nathan would start from P25 and thankfully missed getting caught up in a huge start line shunt that elimated five cars and brought out the red flags. Car 6 was less lucky with carbon fibre debris damaging the front radiator and bodywork, although by making it back to pitlane it allowed the team to repair the car before the restart only to have a drive through penalty applied for having too many team members working on the car! Still, it was better than a DNF.

The restart was a less messy affair and Nathan drove solidly to hand the car to Mario at the 32 minute mark and drive on to a welcoming 10th place soliciting a single point in the championship.
Next stop is Zandvoort, an ageing Grand Prix track nestled in the sandhills alongside the North Sea, just south of Amsterdam.

It's a challenging rollercoaster like circuit, full of blind crests with the wind blowing sand onto the track making it both abrasive and slippery at the same time.

Nathan enjoyed the circuit in testing and now, with noise restriction removed for the races, he should be able to take advantage of the high downforce setup that he has exploited during his earlier open wheeler career.


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