HARRI JONES grabbed opportunity when it was presented to score a stunning victory over Dylan O’Keeffe in race one of the Porsche Paynter Dixon Carrera Cup Australia at Winton Motor Raceway.
Geoff Emery won the Morris Finance Pro-Am class after seeing off an early challenge from Liam Talbot.
Starting third, Jones’ took advantage of turn one dramas to climb to second position behind O’Keeffe on the opening lap.
Duvashen Padayachee locked a brake into the first corner immediately following the race start, running wide and forcing front-row starter Callum Hedge to also run off the road.
That allowed O’Keeffe to lead comfortably by the end of the first lap with Jones second and David Russell third.
As the race evolved Jones’ closed the margin to the leader with a freight train of several cars stacking up behind the leader.
Jones’ opportunity to pounce came on lap 13, when O’Keeffe hit lapped traffic at turn seven and was slowed.
The latter defended valiantly however the delay allowed Jones’ to pass around the outside of Turn 10 to grab the lead – one he’d never lose – before edging away to win his third career race.
O’Keeffe finished second with David Russell a strong third for his Dayco / EMA Motorsport entry.
Ryan Suhle lodged his best ever Carrera Cup Australia race result in fourth, while Dale Wood gained ground from his starting position to finish fifth.
TekworkX Motorsport teammates Luke Youlden and Max Vidau finished line astern in sixth and seventh, respectively, with Michael Almond, David Wall and Jackson Walls completing the top-10.
Following their turn one trips across the infield, Duvashen Padayachee ultimately finished 11th while Hedge was stuck behind a host of Pro rivals in 16th.
The young Kiwi did set a new Winton Carrera Cup lap record in his pursuit of the field, the new benchmark standing at 1m20.7697s.
In Morris Finance Pro-Am, Geoff Emery led from lights to flag to record his sixth career class victory and extend his championship lead following the fourth race of the season.
He fended off Liam Talbot in the early stages, however the former champion ran wide at turn six early in the race, ceding several positions.
That elevated Stephen Grove to second, however he was passed by Dean Cook’s Zonzo Estate entry on the final lap of the race, the latter ultimately going on to finish second.
Grove was third, with polesitter Matt Belford finishing fourth.
Rodney Jane was a season-best fifth with Talbot, Tim Miles, Adrian Flack, Drew Hall and Marc Cini completing the top-10.
The race one results provisionally place Harri Jones in the lead of the Porsche Paynter Dixon Carrera Cup Australia championship for the first time, Max Vidau dropping to second position and David Wall to third.
The field returns for a pair of races on Sunday’s program at the Winton SuperSprint event.
Race 2 will see the field tackle a 25-lap endurance affair at 10:25am before the final sprint race commences at 2:20pm, local time.
Harri Jones – Pro
”That was an awesome race, we qualified third and I was pretty happy with that. I made a position up off the start and put my head down and got Dylan in the last few laps, so I’m really stoked. We have two more races tomorrow, so hoping to do a repeat. The last few laps Dylan and I caught the rear traffic, I took the opportunity and went high, got denied and managed to get the undercut. It was a good battle, we didn’t touch each other so it was good to be close without any contact and come away with the win.”
Geoff Emery – Morris Finance Pro-Am
“It was a really good race, especially with Liam at the start once he closed the gap and he was really making me earn it at the start. But I hung on and after he ran wide, I was on my own for a bit, which made it pretty easy toward the end, so I was happy with that. Tomorrow I’ll just keep the same strategy and stay alive out there. I’ve been really enjoying the Pro-Am Championship this year, the new 992 is a fantastic car to drive, so really enjoying the Championship.”
Earlier, a two-part qualifying session was held in cool conditions and saw lap times dramatically improve throughout the course of the session.
In the 10-minute Morris Finance Pro-Am session, a late lap from Carrera Cup rookie Matt Belford saw him grab his first Tag Heuer pole award, edging out Geoff Emery by less than one-tenth of a second.
Dean Cook was third – just 0.2 seconds behind Belford’s best of 1m22.1966s.
Liam Talbot and Stephen Grove completed the top five in the Pro-Am session.
The Pro field followed with the fastest laps again coming on the fifth or sixth flyer as Michelin Tyres came up to temperature.
It was Dylan O’Keeffe who timed his run to perfection, his Winton record-smashing 1m19.8491s best coming on his sixth and final lap.
It was the Victorian’s sixth career TAG Heuer pole award and his first since 2018 at Sydney Motorsport Park.
Just missing out on pole was young Kiwi, Michelin Junior Callum Hedge.
His second position on the grid – by just 0.06 seconds – represented his best ever Carrera Cup qualifying performance.
Harri Jones was third with Duvashen Padayachee a strong fourth.
Championship leader Max Vidau qualified eighth and David Wall – second in the standings coming into the round – only tenth.
Just 0.9 seconds covered the top 14 cars in qualifying in the remarkably competitive field.