A PERFECT start was all Dylan O’Keeffe needed to continue his remarkable charge to the top of the Porsche Paynter Dixon Carrera Cup Australia Championship, the Victorian powering to a race one victory in the Round 6 opener at Sandown.
Starting from the outside of the front row, O’Keeffe beat polesitter Aaron Love off the line and into the first corner and from there was never to be headed, claiming his second career race victory and culling Harri Jones’ championship lead down to just 22 points in the process.
Geoff Emery claimed victory in Morris Pro-Am, leading Dean Cook and Adrian Flack home in a close battle for the class victory.
After getting the jump on Love and leading into the first corner, the race was a straightforward affair for O’Keeffe as he managed a small margin to his Sonic rival throughout.
The pair traded lap records in the early stages with Love never able to draw closer than a few car lengths in the battle.
It was O’Keeffe’s second career victory in Carrera Cup and his first of the season – and first since the 2018 season.
The race was also a source of redemption: O’Keeffe denied a race victory at Winton after leading for much of the race.
It also ensures the GWR Australia / Dexion squad joins the list of race winning teams for the first time this year.
Max Vidau started and finished third in a quiet race for South Australian TekworkX driver, while Simon Fallon equalled his personal best race result in fourth outright aboard his Bob Jane T-Marts Sonic machine.
He spent much of his day fending off Harri Jones, who moved up three spots from eighth on the grid thanks to a dynamic start and opening lap.
Dale Wood was next, with Christian Pancione, Angelo Mouzouris, David Russell and David Wall – up three spots from his 13th-placed effort in qualifying – completing the top-10.
Jackson Walls had featured in the battle for the back half of the top-10 before he spun on the exit of turn four with two laps remaining.
O’Keeffe set a new Sandown Carrera Cup lap record on his way to victory, his 1:09.0541 flyer on lap 12 not only the fastest race lap at the venue, but the quickest ever in one-make Porsche competition across 12 visits to Sandown.
In Morris Pro-Am, Emery converted pole position to his 11th class victory in the opening race, though it didn’t come easy.
The Victorian was forced to fend off a race-long attack from Dean Cook’s Zonzo Estate entry, while Adrian Flack closed quickly in the latter stages of the race to challenge in a three-car battle for the lead.
Sam Shahin was fourth, holding out Rodney Jane by a tiny margin in a close fight – the latter setting the fastest lap of the Pro-Am class in the process.
The Porsche Paynter Dixon Carrera Cup Australia Championship returns for a pair of races tomorrow, including the next stanza of the enduro cup and a final sprint to decide Round 6.
Dylan O’Keeffe, Race 1 Pro winner:
“It was excellent, our car has been really fast, we tested here a few weeks ago and we got a heap of points last round, but the car didn’t feel that great, we still maximised it. Coming here I was eager to get good starts and win some races, so completely stoked with that win.
“Huge thanks to Ram Motorsport and the GWR crew. When Aaron hit the fence on the out lap, I knew he would be a bit frazzled, so I was able to get a really good launch and just hold the gap from then on. Aaron was coming for me mid-race but then the gap settled, it was good fun. Tomorrow is the long race, so it will definitely be interesting, we’ll have to look at the data, as this was the first properly dry session we had. We’ll run some new tyres and see if we can do the same thing.”
Geoff Emery, Race 1 Morris Pro-Am winner
“I had a really good start, I had a couple of good runs with the pros there and battles for a few laps, I was having a great time. I enjoy this place, so I could in a few good lap times, manage to hold my spot and could come away with the Pro-Am win. We need to work on the car a little bit before tomorrow, to improve the handling but that’s not my job to do that.”
Earlier in qualifying, Aaron Love charged to his second-straight and third pole position of 2022 as the field negotiated a drying circuit on wet weather Michelin tyres.
Love’s Sonic Motor Racing / Bob Jane T-Marts entry scored the top spot by 0.3 seconds – the biggest margin of the season so far.
Dylan O’Keeffe continued his strong run of form by qualifying second, his fourth front-row start from six rounds so far this year.
Max Vidau qualified third while Simon Fallon was fourth in a personal best qualifying effort at his home circuit.
Angelo Mouzouris was another to record a PB effort with fifth, edging out Dale Wood’s Timken entry.
Notably, Harri Jones qualified eighth while fellow championship contender David Wall could only manage 13th.
In Morris Pro-Am, Geoff Emery secured the TAG Heuer Pole Award, edging out Adrian Flack by 0.028s with Sam Shahin and Dean Cook third and fourth, respectively.
Aaron Love, TAG Heuer Pole Position Pro
“Ït’s a pretty cool one to get as its Sonic’s home round as they’re from Melbourne. It was definitely pretty tricky out there and fun in the wet, but the track started drying toward the end, so we were always trying to push but obviously not make any mistakes otherwise you’re not going to be there for the last couple of laps which is always when the quickest laps are set. The Sonic team did an awesome job of managing the session to find out whether we changed to slicks or stayed out on wets. We fortunately didn’t make any mistakes. Race 1 will be dryer but tricky that’s for sure, we just going to try get off the line safely. Eyes forward and try and move forward. To be honest everyone in the top 5 is really close, Max (Vidau) has been quick this weekend, but everyone is quick its such close racing.”
Geoff Emery, TAG Heuer Pole Position Morris Pro-Am
“The track was a drying track, it was very quick when we first went out, it was just a matter of getting the last lap right. We got held up by two cars on the way but it all worked out in the end. It was good lap and pole position is a good place to start. Given my year so far, my strategy for the first race is survival, my mirror hasn’t been big enough this year to be honest, so hopefully we can stay out of trouble into turn 1.”