Nugara/Fouracre head tightly packed field at Australian GT Trophy Series opener

The Audi pairing of Rio Nugara and Jake Fouracre will start from pole position ahead of tomorrow’s first 50-minute CAMS Australian GT Trophy Series race at Sandown Park race after a strong showing in qualifying.

Fouracre set the pace early in the Eat Furniture Audi R8 Ultra, his 1:10.952 beating last year’s pole position marker by a tenth of a second.

Nugara then showed impressive speed when he took the wheel for the second qualifying session, ending the day enthusiastic despite a spin late in the session.

“”There was nothing else we could have done today,” Nugara said after he and co-driver Fouracre claimed ther maiden pole position.

“Jake was epic, as always, and now we look forward to tomorrow.”

Second on the grid went to Richard Gartner, who only pulled back the covers on the all-new Safe-T-Stop Lamborghini Gallardo earlier in the week.

The veteran racer though took no time to adapt to his new ride, qualifying second overall and quickest in the afternoon qualifying session to head the points score.

Also on the pace at the front was Steve McLaughlan in the Valvoline Audi R8 Ultra, who was one of three drivers to dip below the 72-second barrier around the Sandown Park circuit.

The Skwirk Online Education Audi R8 Ultra of Rod Salmon then heads an incredibly close-knit group, with four cars split by little more than a tenth of a second.

Jan Jinadasa (JJA Consulting Group Lamborghini Gallardo) trailed Salmon by just half a tenth of a second, while the Kentucky Fried Chicken pairing of Gary Higgon and Matthew Stoupas nipped at his heels.

Rob Smith was only three-hundredths further back in the South Star Developments backed Audi, the 2016 Trophy Series winner finding four tenths in the afternoon session.

The battle for pole position in the MARC class was equally ferocious, with Liam McClellan and Melinda Price holding out ahead of Keith Kassulke with John Goodacre (Gap Solutions/SEKTOR) in third by the blink of an eye.

Less than a tenth of a second split the three cars, McLellean’s 1:12.925 just 0.02s faster than Kassulke’s best effort from the first session.

A tough day for Jake Camilleri saw the 2016 MARC Class title winner set just a single lap in the first 20-minute session, the MARC Cars Australia crew setting about changing the engine ahead of tomorrow’s opening race.

Sunday’s two 50-minute races will complete the opening round of the 2017 CAMS Australian GT Trophy Series presented by Pirelli, with Nugara excited about the competition that awaits.

“It’s my first season in Trophy Series and this year there’s some epic guys, so it’s going to be very competitive.”

The first race gets underway at 10:50, the results of which will set the grid for Race 2 at 14:40.

Both races will be streamed live online via the Shannons Nationals website.

Race 1 Grid

Pos Competitor/Team Driver Vehicle Best CPS
1 Audi Sport Customer Racing Rio Nugara/Jake Fouracre Audi R8 LMS Ultra 1:10.952 51
2 Safe-T-Stop Richard Gartner Lamborghini Gallardo LP600 1:11.192 46
3 Audi Sport Customer Racing Steve McLaughlan Audi R8 LMS Ultra 1:11.686 46
4 Audi Sport Customer Racing Rod Salmon Audi R8 LMS Ultra 1:12.034 46
5 JJA Consulting Group Jan Jinadasa Lamborghini Gallardo LP560 1:12.095 38
6 Kentucky Fried Chicken Gary Higgon/Matthew Stoupas Audi R8 LMS 1:12.136 28
7 Audi Sport Customer Racing Rob Smith Audi R8 LMS Ultra 1:12.165 28
8 Mack Bros Roofing Products Wayne Mack Ferrari 458 GT3 1:12.418 24
9 MARC Cars Australia Melinda Price/Liam McLellan MARC Mazda V8 1:12.925 34
10 MARC Cars Australia Keith Kassulke MARC Focus V8 1:12.927 30
11 Gap Solutions/SEKTOR John Goodacre MARC Focus V8 1:12.995 34
12 Audi Sport Customer Racing Rick Mensa Audi R8 LMS 1:13.137 20
13 Freechoice Travers Beynon Audi R8 LMS 1:13.188 20
14 Fiorano Motorsport Scott Hookey Ferrari 458 Challenge 1:13.680 24
15 Harcourts Epping Emanuel Mezzasalma Porsche 997 Cup Car 1:14.014 20
16 MARC Cars Australia Jake Camilleri MARC Mazda V8 1:15.573 36
17 Whitlock Bull Bars Con Whitlock Audi R8 LMS 1:17.220 20
18 M Motorsport Interlloy Justin McMillan/Dean Koutsoumidis KTM X-Bow 1:17.731 32