Matt Campbell reinforced his position at the top of the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia standings today at Sydney Motorsport Park, while Stephen Grove edged out Tony Bates in a close TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge battle.
A different schedule this weekend, featuring two rather than the usual three races, mean Campbell’s win will be especially valuable in his championship chase.
The additional points on offer for this weekend’s races mean Campbell’s lead over nearest rival Alex Davison exploded out from 4.5 to 46.5 points prior to tomorrow’s second 16-lap race.
The McElrea Racing driver had earlier scored his fourth straight TAG Heuer Pole Position in qualifying, equalling a ten-year old record in the series held by Alex Davison.
The Queenslander led from pole position and despite the margin never extending to much more than three seconds, never looked seriously challenged on the way to his 11th career victory – and the 5th of his season.
“David Wall was there the whole time and even though the gap extended towards the end I couldn’t back off – the pressure was still on. I couldn’t make a mistake or he would be right there,” said Campbell.
“The first half of the race was really strong and the car felt really good but we dropped off a little bit in the second half with the tyres (wear) and we just tried to look after the car and get to the flag.
“It wasn’t ideal in Darwin, where we had some fantastic pace but didn’t show it, so it was really good to get a good start to our weekend here.”
Sydneysider David Wall started and finished second, continuing his strong run of form that saw him on the podium in the series’ most recent round at Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin.
Wall pressured Campbell early in race but later fell into the clutches of Nick McBride, who narrowly missed out on grabbing second at the line.
With Alex Davison finishing sixth, McBride’s strong performance has closed him to within nine points of second position in the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia championship.
Steven Richards was the biggest improver in the race, storming from eighth on the grid to fifth at the finish in an impressive performance from the #12 Porsche.
Behind sixth-placed Davison, Dylan O’Keeffe, Fraser Ross, Michael Almond and James Abela completed the top 10.
Championship contender Ash Walsh had a tough day, initially penalised four grid positions following qualifying for impeding another car.
He was then running strongly early in the race before spinning out of sixth position on the third lap – dropping as low as last before rebounding to 11th at the line.
In the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge, Stephen Grove stormed to his third race win of the season.
The Victorian driver was happy to rebound from a tough round in Darwin, one that saw him finish just one of the three races.
“This weekend it was really important for me to come out strongly early in the weekend and push on. We had a pretty bad round at Darwin so it was important for us to come out strongly and push on so I’m really, really happy,” said Grove.
“I really wanted to work hard in practice one to get on it early and build from there and it’s worked well.
“I just had to manage the tyres at the end and I knew with a few laps left that Tony Bates wouldn’t get me so I just brought it home.”
TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge leader Tony Bates finished second, closing in on Grove in the closing laps however, mindful of the championship situation, ultimately settled for a safe second in class.
“I had great speed towards the end but I knew I was racing Shane (Smollen) for the championship, and not Grove,” Bates explained.
“I played it smart and got the points, which was what we wanted to do.”
Shane Smollen finished third, now sitting 37.5 points behind Bates in the Challenge standings.
The Porsche Carrera Cup Australia contenders will return for a further 16-lap championship race tomorrow (Sunday) morning prior to the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge drivers joining with the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Class B runners for a combined race in the afternoon.
The Professional drivers from both series will then go head to head later in the day to complete the first joint weekend between the Australian and Asia series.
Sunday August 28, 2016
10:55am Race 2 (16 laps)
12:55pm Invitational Race – TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge/Class B (10 laps)
4:05pm Invitational Race – Overall (10 laps)
Race 1 Results
1. #7 Matt Campbell (Outright) Nuveau Constructions / Phase 8 – 16 laps, 24:41.6004s
2. #38 David Wall (Outright) Wilson Security – 16 laps, 24:44.7455s
3. #77 Nick McBride (Outright) Bob Jane T-Marts – 16 laps, 24:45.4871s
4. #8 Dean Fiore (Outright) Saint/Porsche Centre Melbourne – 16 laps, 24:45.7478s
5. #12 Steven Richards (Outright) Laser Plumbing and Electrical 16 laps, 24:47.0554s
6. #25 Alex Davison (Outright) Wilson Parking – 16 laps, 24:53.1146s
7. #88 Dylan O’Keeffe (Outright) Allstar Equipment/Dexion Supply Centre – 16 laps, 24:54.9998s
8. #360 Fraser Ross (Outright) Preston Hire – 16 laps, 25:00.1090s
9. #26 Michael Almond (Outright) Toshiba – 16 laps, 25:00.5768s
10. #54 James Abela (Outright) Horsley Park Gun Shop – 16 laps, 25:04.4416s
11. #777 Ash Walsh (Outright) Bob Jane T-Marts / Infants Friend – 16 laps, 25:04.6826s
12. #45 Duvashen Padayachee (Outright) Darrell Lea STIX – 16 laps, 25:05.7431s
13. #21 Garth Walden (Outright) PlastaMaster 16 laps, 25:18.6097s
14. #4 Stephen Grove (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Grove Hire – 16 laps, 25:25.5356s
15. #24 Tony Bates (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Moveitnet / A.F.S – 16 laps, 25:25.8486s
16. #56 Shane Smollen (Challenge) McGrath Estate Agents – 16 laps, 25:27.0969s
17. #13 James Bergmuller (Challenge) pricepressure.com.au – 16 laps, 25:27.4111s
18. #39 Adrian Mastronardo (Challenge) Veritas Porperty Group – 16 laps, 25:33.5954s
19. #9 Marc Cini (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Hallmarc – 16 laps, 25:44.6421s
20. #222 Scott Taylor (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Scott Taylor Motorsport – 16 laps, 25:46.2317s