Preview: Townsville

Get your sunnies out as the CAMS Australian GT Championship arrives in tropical Townsville for round four of the series.

We had an absolute barnstormer last time out at Barbagallo but now the championship fight descends on the scorching streets of Reid Park.

Round four of the Championship sees crews head north, not to mention across the breadth of the continent from Barbagallo, which hosted the previous round back in May.

The narrow high-speed street circuit boasts a combination of fast flowing corners, mixed with a tantalising selection of edge of the seat twisty bits too.

So, let’s have a glance at the key points before the first track action kicks off tomorrow as Townsville comes alive for a thrilling motorsport fuelled weekend

The format

Australian GT will hit the track six times over the course of this weekend with the first wheel turned during practice on Friday morning.

Reid Park will come alive with the sound GT cars roaring into action as the 20-minute practice session begins at 11:05.

Saturday is set to be a jam-packed day of rip-roaring race car entertainment.

Two 20-minute qualifying sessions and the first of three races will take place.

Then, get yourself comfortable on the sofa as Sunday heats up with another two 40-minute races.

The championship

It’s tight. Real tight.

Liam Talbot enters the weekend leading the championship standings by 28 points over Roger Lago and Geoff Emery in the Jamec Pem Audi.

It’s a slender margin which will see the championship fight get turned up to eleven with the final round fast approaching.

Lago, Emery and van der Linde are all tying on 365 points with Peter Major and Tony Bates just behind, both on 320 points.

This weekend really could be a make it or break many driver’s Championship aspirations.

The race

Reid Park circuit is typically a layout that suites a high-aero, low-drag car, which is something that was well demonstrated last year with the dominance of the McLaren 650S GT3.

The British marque took out both race wins with strong performances courtesy of Klark Quinn and Tony Walls.

This weekend we have a trio of McLaren 650s GT3’s; will their commanding 2016 feat mark them as the cars to watch this weekend?

Fraser Ross has consistent so far this year, and while he’s yet to score a win in the YNA Autosports entry he stands as a silent assassin.

He’ll have to dispose of Kelvin van der Linde though, the South African back in Australia for the first time since his emotional Nurburgring 24 win.

Van der Linde is racing alongside Geoff Emery, the duo marking a solid driver combination.

And who could rule our Roger Lago and the Lamborghini R-EX, the JBS Australia entry tipped to the be slipperiest in a straight line this weekend.

Two wins already in 2017 sees Tony Bates well in contention, and with his victories coming around the streets of Adelaide, what might the Moveitnet/AFS Mercedes-AMG GT3 be capable of this weekend?

Then there’s the James Koundouris and Duvashan Padayachee combination – an enthralling new partnership for the Supabarn Supermarkets Audi.

Could Steve Richards and James Bergmuller spring a surprise, or will events conspire against them all?

With only one previous winner at Townsville on the grid this weekend the odds are stacked in favour of crowning a new King of the North.

The question, quite simply, is who?

Slade Perrins