Peter Hackett and Dominic Storey showed a clean pair of heels in the qualifying race ahead of the Laser Plumbing & Electrical Hampton Downs 500.
The Eggleston Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 pairing claimed victory after a strong move on Fraser Ross in the Total/Opti-Coat McLaren 650S GT3.
It followed a thrilling battle with John Martin following the pit stop sequence in the Hot Wheels Car Care Products Porsche 911 GT3 R before closing on Ross to move by the McLaren driver into the lead.
Once out front, Storey extended a small advantage to take the chequered flag ahead of Martin with Ross in third.
Hackett led the race from the start, while a brilliant move from Talbot in the Porsche around the outside of Duvashen Padayachee, who started the McLaren he shared with Ross, moved the Porsche into second place.
A blinding start from Steve Richards in the BMW Team SRM M6 GT3 moved the Bathurst 1000 winner into fourth, also finding a way through on Padayachee as the leading six runners circulated nose to tail.
Contact in the pack on the opening lap left Tony Quinn with a puncture to his left front Pirelli P-Zero tyre in the Local Legends Beef Jerky Aston Martin.
The KFC/MoveItNet Audi was also caught out, with Tony Bates picking up contact that damaged a driveshaft on the Audi R8 LMS GT3 that triggered a Safety Car as he came to a halt a pit entry.
Hackett then led until he stopped, which saw Ross emerge at the head of proceedings from Storey and Martin who battled over second place.
The battle for second was frenetic until Storey managed to edge clear, catching and passing Ross for the lead.
Martin soon also found a way through on the Australian GT Championship points leader, who reached the flag in third.
A thrilling scrap developed between Garth Tander (Valvoline Audi R8 LMS GT3) and Tony D’Alberto (WM Waste Management Mercedes-AMG GT3) throughout the second half of the race, Tander holding on in the car he’s sharing with Geoff Emery to claim fourth.
Fifth was the Max Twigg/D’Alberto Mercedes-AMG, a result which saw them slightly extend their advantage in the CAMS Australian Endurance Championship to 38 points.
At the head of the CAMS Australian GT Championship, Ross now holds a 10-point advantage over Hackett with 300 still up for grabs.
The 2018 Australian GT season draws to a conclusion with the Laser Plumbing & Electrical Hampton Downs 500 on Sunday at 1405, following a 20-minute Warm Up session at 0955.
“It’s important to get part one out of the way and to make sure we keep building speed into the car for tomorrow.
“It was fairly frantic in the beginning of the race. We had full tanks and cold tyres and as good as our car is on fuel economy and tyre wear it takes time to bring the temperature in.
“We struggled a little bit early but managed to get the job done and handed the car to Dom who was just perfect in his stint.”
“I knew if I wanted to get the job done I had to do it straight away.
“Once I got onto the back of him (Ross) I didn’t mess around for too many laps.
“It took me a lap to work out where he was strong and where I was stronger, and once I realised that what I had to do was get out of the aero and get up the inside of him I managed to do it over the back.
“Once the move was done it was nice and clean and just got on with my business.
“I knuckled down, got some good laps in and built a bit of a gap to the Porsche, which got Fraser quite quickly.
“It was good, an enjoyable race and looking forward to tomorrow.”
Result: Hampton Downs 500, Qualifying Race*
|1||Eggleston Motorsport||Peter Hackett/Dom Storey||Mercedes-AMG GT3||30||49:33.579|
|2||Hot Wheels Car Care Products||Liam Talbot/John Martin||Porsche 911 GT3 R||30||49:36.719|
|3||Total/Opti-Coat||Fraser Ross/Duvashen Padayachee||McLaren 650S GT3||30||49:47.864|
|4||Valvoline||Geoff Emery/Garth Tander||Audi R8 LMS GT3||30||49:48.275|
|5||WM Waste Management||Max Twigg/Tony D’Alberto||Mercedes-AMG GT3||30||49:48.512|
|6||BMW Team SRM||Michael Almond/Steve Richards||BMW M6 GT3||30||50:13.926|
|7||Bute Line Plumbing||Andrew Fawcett/Jonny Reid||Audi R8 LMS GT3||30||50:14.296|
|8||Wall Racing||Adrian Deitz/Cameron McConville||Lamborghini Huracan GT3||30||50:22.812|
|9||Scott Taylor Motorsport||Scott Taylor/Craig Baird||Mercedes-AMG GT3||30||50:25.922|
|10||Local Legends Beef Jerky||Tony Quinn/Andrew Waite||Aston Martin Vantage GT3||30||50:34.024|
|KFC/MoveItNet||Tony Bates/Daniel Gaunt||Audi R8 LMS GT3||2||06:25.742|
* provisional results