Ju­niper buries con­cern

Aussies will go in a car they haven’t driven yet, writes STEPHEN OT­T­LEY

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Motorsport -

SHAUN Ju­niper isn’t afraid of a chal­lenge. The Queens­land busi­ness­man and part-time rac­ing driver is lead­ing an Aussie as­sault on the Spa 24 Hours sports-car race in Bel­gium this week­end.

Not only is the team’s Porsche GT3 RSR so new they haven’t driven it yet, they will be com­pet­ing against some of Europe’s big­gest and best in the most im­por­tant and de­mand­ing race of the year.

The Spa 24 is the high­light of the FIA GT Cham­pi­onship and at­tracts en­tries world­wide.

Ju­niper is no stranger to en­durance sports-car rac­ing. In the past two years he has raced in the Nur­bur­gring 24, the Dubai 24 Hours and 12 Hours of Sepang.

He’s also as­sem­bled a list of Porsche rac­ing ex­perts. New Zealan­der Craig Baird is a vet­eran of V8 Su­per­cars and will com­pete in this year’s en­durance races at Phillip Is­land and Bathurst with the Holden Rac­ing Team.

Ju­niper knows his way around Porsches, too. He was the 2006 Aus­tralian Car­rera Cup cham­pion and leads the se­ries this year.

Rod­ney Jane, the son of leg­endary Aus­tralian driver Bob Jane, is also a reg­u­lar in the Car­rera Cup.

Max Twigg is a reg­u­lar with the team — hav­ing done Nur­bur­gring, Dubai and Sepang — and is an­other Car­rera Cup com­peti­tor.

Their fa­mil­iar­ity with Porsches should come in handy.

‘‘The car is so new we haven’t even had the chance to drive it,’’ Ju­niper says.

‘‘We flew it to Aus­tralia to get painted and then sent it straight back to Europe to be read­ied for the race.

‘‘Our team is a good bunch of Car­rera Cup rac­ers with plenty of ex­pe­ri­ence and we will be hop­ing for a solid re­sult, given we will have a very fast car.’’

They’ll need to come to terms with the GT3 RSR quickly. It is the ul­ti­mate ver­sion of Porsche’s 911 rac­ing car, with 342kW and the latest aero­dy­namic pack­age de­vel­oped by Porsche’s rac­ing de­part­ment. Ju­niper’s car is one of only 35 be­ing built this year.

The GT2 class in which they race has been dom­i­nated by Fer­rari this sea­son.

There are five strong Fer­rari 430 GTs en­tered by three teams that are con­sid­ered the favourites for race hon­ours, the fac­to­ry­sup­ported AF Corse team hav­ing ex-For­mula One racer Mika Salo as its lead driver.

Ju­niper push: Shaun Ju­niper will lead an Aussie Porsche team in this week­end’s Spa 24 Hours in Bel­gium.

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