AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX SUPPORTS REPORT
The dust has settled after Grand Prix weekend, so here is an overview of how the supports looked after the weekend. Here is a teaser of what will feature in Auto Action #1707. Out Thursday April 6.
It was nearly a DJR Team Penske domination at Albert Park as Fabian Coulthard showed a clean pair of heels in the four quick fire Qualifying sessions to finish on Pole for three out of the four races and in the one he didn’t win Pole he set the second fastest time. Qualifying didn’t go so well for some of the established stars; Craig Lowndes had a shocker with his best starting position being 14th, reigning champ Shane van Gisbergen was buried in the mid pack and both Lee Holdsworth and Nick Percat had failures, which is coincidental when it comes to Race One.
The opening race of the weekend gave an ominous warning to the opposition as the two DJR Team Penske cars rocketed away from the rest of the field. There was the inevitable first turn drama as Garth Tander was turned around, while Scott Pye and Simona De Silvestro cut through the sand trap, Pye later retired with steering issues, while De Silvestro put in a strong drive to be battling at the rear of the top 10 until her tyres fell away.
Scott McLaughlin soon took the lead off his teammate Coulthard and led home a DJR Team Penske one-two, while there was action behind as Percat lost his brakes at Turn One and barrelled into an innocent Holdsworth. Both cars were out for the weekend.
Chaz Mostert was the lead Prodrive Racing Australia Falcon as teammates Jason Bright and Cameron Waters ventured off track. Mostert was unable however to keep in touch with McLaughlin and Coulthard, so had to settle for third.
The weekend for van Gisbergen got worse in Race Two as he was spun by Mostert at Turn 15 and an unsighted James Moffat hit the Triple Eight driver head on. Meanwhile at the front it was another DJR Team Penske one-two with Coulthard taking the win from McLaughlin and Michael Caruso.
Coulthard proved unstoppable in the third race of the weekend as Whincup finally beat one of the DJR Team Penske cars by beating McLaughlin to third. Another squeeze into Turn One caused Bright and Tander to spin, with tander retiring from the race.
The final race of the weekend provided the most surprises of the weekend. First was Mostert taking his first win since 2015, second was the tyre delaminations for race leader Coulthard and Whincup, and thirdly was the pace shown by the Nissan of Todd Kelly, who took fourth in the final race of the weekend.
Mostert cruised to a near-10s victory over van Gisbergen and BJR’s Tim Slade. Coulthard still managed to win the weekend despite finishing 19th in the finale and was helped by Whincup’s demise. McLaughlin took the second step as he also fought problems in the final race, while Mostert completed an all-Ford podium.
Supercars will next be at Symmons Plains on April 7-9.
1 12 Shell V-Power Racing Team Fabian Coulthard Ford Falcon FG/X 241
2 17 Shell V-Power Racing Team Scott McLaughlin Ford Falcon FG/X 235
3 55 Supercheap Auto Racing Chaz Mostert Ford Falcon FG/X 223
4 23 Nissan Motorsport Michael Caruso Nissan Altima 222
5 88 Red Bull Holden Racing Aust Jamie Whincup Holden Commodore VF 201
A new format was introduced that split the Am and Pro drivers into separate Qualifying sessions and a pair of races each.
Audi had strength in numbers, and also had strength in factory driver Kelvin van der Linde, who without having ever driven at Albert Park snagged Pole ahead of fellow Audi driver Ash Walsh, while Daniel Gaunt made it an Audi top three.
The ever-present Lamborghini R-Ex of David Russell was among the top three Audi’s all weekend in each Pro race though he couldn’t stop and all-Audi podium in Race One. Walsh crossed the line first, but was later given a five second penalty for a start infringement handing van der Linde his maiden Australian GT Championship victory. Gaunt grabbed second and the penalty only dropped Walsh to third. Unfortunately Ash Samadi’s weekend ended after the checkered flag at Turn One when his car speared across the track and hit the inside wall, destroying the front of his Audi.
The only race shown on the TV coverage across the weekend was the second Pro race of the weekend and the third race of the round. A great fight between the same quartet in the first Pro race and the McLaren of Lewis Williamson gave the TV crowd a superb battle. Williamson dropped off the pack leaving van der Linde, Gaunt, Russell and Walsh to fight over the lead, though Walsh tried to take second at Turn 15 but out-braked himself and let Gaunt and Russell back through. This gave van der Linde a gap he wouldn’t relinquish to finish clear of Gaunt and Russell.
In the Am Qualifying session, Max Twigg gave the Mercedes-AMG GT3 its first Pole Position in the Sprint Series, but was unable to take advantage as Roger Lago spread-eagled the field and took a dominate victory. Tony Quinn became the first Australian GT competitor to celebrate the 100 round mark, but was soon spun by Tony Bates. Though the McLaren driver recovered, he put on quite a show for the fans with flames shooting out the McLaren’s exhaust. Another McLaren driver, Fraser Ross finished second to Lago, while Peter Major also passed Twigg for third.
It was a dramatic finale to the round as a number of incidents caused a significant portion of the race to be run under Safety Car. The first incident occurred straight after the start at Turn One when Twigg touched the rea of Ross, which left the McLaren stranded side-on in the middle of the track. It was a sheer miracle that no one hit the stricken car. Further around the track, Major was cramped onto the grass and speared across the track, hitting the Hector Lester Ferrari and ending both their races.
Once the Safety Car period was over, Walkinshaw GT driver Liam Talbot made the best of it by overtaking Twigg at Turn One, then the leader Lago at the approach to Turn 11, but another Safety Car was called when the Ryan Millier Lamborghini Huracan crashed out of a superb fourth spot. The diagnosis after the race showed it was a brake issue.
After the second Safety Car period ended it was a one lap dash to the flag. Talbot had a flyer of a lap to hold quite a margin to the flag ahead of Twigg and Geoff Emery, sharing the van der Linde Audi.
This gave van der Linde and Emery the round win ahead of Lago and Russell in the Lamborghini and Talbot in the Porsche
Australian GT will hold their next round at Barbagallo Raceway on May 5-7.
1 23 Roger Lago 337
2 911 Liam Talbot 240
3 24 Tony Bates 237
4 74 Geoff Emery 162
5 14 Peter Major 133
PORSCHE CARRERA CUP AUSTRALIA
Despite Sonic looking dominate at the start of the weekend Cameron McConville has taken his and Zagame Motorsport’s first round victory in the 100th round of Carrera Cup in Australia.
McConville played the waiting game behind the Sonic pair of Nick McBride and Andre Heimgartner, which paid off in Race Three when he took a comfortable victory.
It wasn’t all good for McConville who ended Practice One in the sandtrap, but McConville recovered to qualify his Porsche third behind the Sonic pair. Meanwhile, Dylan O’Keeffe set an impressive fourth quickest time to beat the experienced Alex Davison and David Wall.
The first encounter of the weekend was dominated by McBride as Heimgartner and McConville chased and battled throughout the race, while the top three broke away from the chasing pack of O’Keeffe, Wall, Davison and Michael Almond.
A poor start from Heimgartner played against Davison as the Sonic teammates boxed in the fast starting ex-Supercars driver. McBride again streaked away to another comfortable victory from Heimgartner and McConville, who were joined by a fast recovering Davison. After an off in Race One, Jaxon Evans failed to make the start in Race Two due to a broken driveshaft.
An exceptional first lap by McConville proved to be all he needed to take race victory in the third race. McConville made his way passed the Sonic teammates on lap one and held a .7650s lead at the end of the first lap. Davison had to patiently negotiate his way through, which cost him a challenge at race victory as he showed superior pace to McConville once he had passed McBride and Heimgartner.
McConville held on ahead of Davison and McBride.
The start of the final race decided the round as McBride made a poor start and McConville led. Davison changed that on lap three when he took the lead and dominated the race to finish ahead of McConville, Heimgartner and McBride, who had to hold off the advances of a recovering Evans and Wall.
McConville finished level on points with McBride after the conclusion of the final race and was awarded victory after finishing higher in the finale. Davison took third for the round.
Stephen Grove continued his domination of Challenge Class, taking four from four to extend his winning streak to seven.
the next round of the Porsche Carrera Cup is at Phillip Island for the Pro-Am event on May 26-28.
1 Andre Heimgartner 307
2 David Wall 273
3 Cameron McConville 266.5
4 Nick McBride 254.5
5 Dylan O’Keeffe 222
Date posted: March 28, 2017