A stunning performance from Geoff Emery has seen the Valvoline Jamec Pem Audi R8 LMS driver win Round 3 of the 2018 CAMS Australian GT Championship.
Strong performances in the opening two 40-minute races were capped off with an impressive victory in the final race of the weekend, as Emery absorbed intense pressure applied by the hard-charging Fraser Ross (Total/Opti-Coat/Logitech McLaren 650S GT3).
Emery ran second in the opening stanza of the race, though remained in touch with Ross who pushed hard out front to open a lead ahead of the pit stop window.
Though his efforts fell short, Ross chased down Emery to set up a brilliant lead battle that lasted the final quarter of the race.
The Audi driver however was impervious to Ross’ attempts, winning his first race of the 2018 season by just three tenths of a second.
In third place was Liam Talbot, whose measured performance saw the Hot Wheels Car Care Products Porsche moved to the head of the championship fight.
Third for the round was Peter Hackett, whose victory on Saturday saw him become the most winning driver in Australian GT history.
The Eggleston Motorsport driver now boasts 18 career victories, taking him one clear of David Wall and the late Allan Simonsen on the all-time winners’ list.
Earlier, Tony Bates brilliantly won Sunday’s first race, commanding the latter stages after climbing up the order courtesy of slick strategy work by the Audi Sport Customer Racing Australia crew.
Bates ran second behind Dean Koutnsoumidis, before charging into the lead at the exit of Turn 1 after the pair rejoined following their stops.
Once ahead, Bates built up a commanding lead, before managing the gap to Ross and Talbot.
Talbot’s fine performance across the weekend recorded two thirds and a fourth, and now holds a 61-point advantage over Ross heading to Round 4 at Phillip Island.
A break-though performance from Rio Nugara saw the EAT Furniture Audi driver record his first Australian GT Trophy Series win, topping the class in Race 3 with a magnificent performance.
Nugara was involved in a nail-biting battle with the three Mercedes-AMG GT3s of Mark Griffith (Hog’s Breath Cafe/Griffith Corporation), Scott Taylor (Scott Taylor Motorsport), and Peter Hackett (Eggleston Motorsport).
He ended the race in eighth overall, and the round third in class behind Nick Kelly (Industrie Audi R8 LMS Ultra) and Matt Stoupas (KFC Audi R8 LMS Ultra).
Heading the GT4 field was the near-perfect Jeremy Gray, who claimed three wins from as many starts aboard the JMG/Bilstein Aston Martin Vantage GT4.
A stunning return to Australian GT competition saw Victor Zagame take out second for the weekend aboard the MPD Steak Kitchen Audi R8 LMS GT4.
After some eight years out of the category, Zagame banked two podiums across the weekend to take second in class.
Rounding out the class podium was the Ginetta G55 GT4 duo of Coleby Cowham and Mark Caine, who charged to third on debut in the category.
Australian GT next heads to Phillip Island for Round 4 of the CAMS Australian GT Championship, an event which doubles as Round 2 of the 2018 CAMS Australian Endurance Championship, on Jun 1-3.
It promises to be a bumper weekend of GT action, with the CAMS Australian GT Trophy Series also set to compete in a standalone evet at the picturesque Victorian circuit on the same weekend.
Geoff Emery: “It was awesome. Obviously we came back out in P1 but Fraser was chasing us down. He was doing an awesome job behind me and his tyres sort of hit a bit of a brick wall and we ended up stuck racing each other. He put me under a lot of pressure which was great, I had an absolute ball.”
Fraser Ross: “I did everything we could at the start to gap the guys. We had a bit of a CPS penalty over the rest of the guys so i did everything I could to gap them. The car was mega. The McElrea guys did an unbelievable job tuning it up. Hit a bit of a wall when I came back out and tried to do the same times, but Geoff did an amazing job and credit to him and the MPC boys. We’re happy with three podiums, it’s definitely good momentum to continue into Phillip Island and I’m looking forward to the championship fight.”
Peter Hackett: “For me it was mixed fortunes. We won one race and we’re sixth and now we’re third. Sandown is not going to be our strongest track in the Mercedes-AMG GT3, but our Corplex Mercedes Trade Club car and the guys at Eggleston Motorsport did a great job and we scored lots of points. We’ve done quite well at Phillip Island for the last few years and we’ll look to continue that form.”