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