The final round of the 2017 CAMS Australian GT Championship heads to Sandown this weekend with five drivers still mathematically in the battle for the title.
With a maximum of 221 points up for grabs this weekend, the top five drivers in the championship are all within striking distance of claiming one of the most prestigious awards in Australian motor sport.
Heading the competition is Liam Talbot, who has claimed three race victories so far in the Mega Racing Porsche 911 GT3-R.
“It’d be a very special feeling to win the Championship,” said Talbot.
“I’ve seen what Klark Quinn has done over the years, and to be able to emulate that would be incredible.
“We know what we’ve got to do and we’ve proven through the year what we can do.
“I love pressure, the longer the racing goes the stronger I get, so I can’t wait.
“I think the Saturday race schedule with everything jammed in will be great for me – my fitness is the best it’s ever been, so I can’t wait to get back on track.”
The Queensland ace holds a slender 28-point advantage over Geoff Emery, who will drive the Valvoline Jamec Pem Racing Audi R8 LMS solo for the first time.
“I’d be wrapped to be able to do that off the back of last year,” said Emery of the prospect of claiming the Australian GT Championship.
“I’m happy with how the season’s gone, especially considering where I was this time last year – I was learning to walk again.
“To come back and potentially have a chance of winning the Championship, I’m actually pretty happy with how it’s gone.”
Audi stablemate Ash Walsh also remains in contention.
After bursting onto the Australian GT scene at the opening round of the year in Adelaide, and with a number of pole positions and fastest laps to his name, Walsh quickly established himself as one of the leading runners in the field.
Partnering him in the Supabarn Supermarkets Audi for the second time this season will be Duvashen Padayachee, who shared the driving duties at Townsville in what proved to be an extremely competitive combination.
Mathematically, Roger Lago remains in the title fight in the JBS Australia entry, however mechanical issues will see the iconic black Lamborghini Gallardo sidelined as the team switches its focus to the CAMS Australian Endurance Championship.
Max Twigg is the only other driver capable of taking home the Championship trophy this weekend, the veteran racer having been a model of consistency throughout 2017 in the WM Waste Management Mercedes-AMG.
The Scott Taylor Motorsport run entry was a race winner at Townsville, and sat on pole position at Albert Park, and will be the sole focus of his team’s efforts this weekend.
Team boss Scott Taylor had hoped to take part in the season ending event, however, was ruled out following an incident at Round 2 of the Australian Endurance Championship that will keep him from competition for the remainder of 2017.
Mechanical problems have prevented Townsville race winner Glen Wood from entering the Interlloy M Motorsport Lamborghini Gallardo, an entry many expected would have again been battling for race wins.
On paper, Audi holds the upper hand heading into the weekend, with the German marque unbeaten at Sandown since 2015, while neither Porsche nor Lamborghini has ever won around the historic venue.
Mercedes has claimed three victories at the Victorian circuit, courtesy of Richard Muscat at the wheel of a Mercedes-AMG SLS GT3 in 2014.
With the Australian GT Championship not visiting Sandown in 2016, this will be the first time the latest spec GT3 machinery has taken to the 3.104km circuit and could see the previous form guide rewritten.
It will also mark the first time since 2012 that the Australian GT Championship has been decided on Australian soil when Klark Quinn claimed his first title around the streets of Homebush.
Two qualifying sessions, each of which sees ten points awarded to the fastest car in the session, could see the championship fight compress even before racing starts on Saturday morning.
Three 40-minute races then follow on Saturday as the 2017 CAMS Australian GT Championship builds to a crescendo.
Every moment of the Australian GT Championship finale will be broadcast live from Qualifying 1 on Friday on Fox Sports, Channel 506.
Australian GT Championship: Points Standings
1. Liam Talbot, 544pts
2. Geoff Emery, 516
3. Ash Walsh, 455
4. Roger Lago, 441
5, Max Twigg, 395
Round 5: Sandown Schedule
Friday, September 15
0830 – Practice 1, 20mins
1155 – Qualifying 1, 20mins
1415 – Qualifying 2, 20mins
Saturday, September 16
0830 – Race 1, 40mins
1205 – Race 2, 40mins
1710 – Race 3, 40mins