Sunday, March 1, 2015

Australian GT: Podiums and carnage for the Audi teams in Adelaide race 3

By Johan Laubscher

The opening round of the Australian GT Championship concluded on Sunday at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide. The third and final race of the weekend saw success and misfortune for the Audi Sport customer racing teams.

Saturday was a day to remember for Nathan Antunes and Melbourne Performance Centre. He piloted the #6 Skwirk/Beechwood Homes Audi R8 LMS ultra to victory in both races one and two. Further Audi success came from the Greg Taylor Racing (Wall Racing) team and the #38 Audi R8 LMS driven by Greg Taylor and Barton Mawer, who won the Trophy class in the first race.

Nathan Antunes started from pole position for the final Australian GT Championship race of the weekend on Sunday and led the field towards the first corner. Antunes took a wide entry into the first corner and maintained the lead whilst chaos broke out behind him.

Paul Kelly was lying third and lost control of the #27 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 on the exit of the chicane and speared off into the wall and subsequently bounced back into the path of the oncoming field. Christopher Mies was very lucky in the #74 JAMEC-PEM Racing (MPC) Audi R8 LMS ultra, as he avoided contact during the high-speed incident, but a number of drivers were not so lucky, including two of the Audi R8 LMS ultra entries. Two Audis got caught up in the accident. Steven Johnson had nowhere to go and headed into the wall with the #75 JAMEC-PEM Racing (MPC) Audi R8 LMS ultra. Behind him Peter Fitzgerald in the #2 EVA Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra was a victim of the concertina effect and sustained frontal damage to his blue and white Audi, limping away from the incident, only to retire a short distance later.

The majority of the race was held under safety car conditions, including the pitstop phase of the race. All the competitors had one compulsory pitstop and the safety car conditions meant that Antunes lost the lead due to his additional minimum pitstop time penalty. He re-joined the field well outside of the top ten and began a spirited drive through the field during the remaining laps. He made it all the way up to third place overall, taking second place in the Championship class. His exploits of two race wins and a runner-up spot has ensured that he has a commanding lead in the championship points, a total of 152 points, 47 points clear of the rest of the field.

Greg Taylor also performed well during the final race of the weekend and finished fourth overall, second position in the Trophy class in the #38 Audi R8 LMS. He also now leads the Throphy class standings. Mies also fell back during the pitstops and eventually finished seventh overall in the #74 Audi R8 LMS ultra. Mark Griffith finished sixteenth with the #19 Griffith Corporation Motorsport (MPC) Audi R8 LMS.

It was a very strong weekend for the Audi Sport customer racing teams in Adelaide. The Australian GT Championship will now be heading to Phillip Island for round two from 22-23 May.

Photo credit: Australian GT Championship