Liam Talbot has won a thrilling opening CAMS Australian GT Championship race at Sydney Motorsport Park after an inch-perfect performance.
Talbot withstood enormous pressure following his pit stop, the Hot Wheels Car Care Products Porsche driver holding his nerve to win from Peter Hackett (Eggleston Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3).
The Walkinshaw GT3 driver was thrilled with the result for what was a brand-new chassis heading into the weekend.
“Stoked to get the victory, Walkinshaw have done a great job to turn the car around – it had massive damage at Phillip Island, new chassis flown out from Germany, so stoked to debut the new chassis with a race win,” Talbot enthused.
“Any one of us could have had the spin, the track conditions were pretty wild with the wind.
“We just played to our strengths, you don’t want to overstep the mark too, but really happy with the result.”
A late spin from Hackett saw the Mercedes driver drop off the back of Talbot, but still recorded valuable points with an important second place.
Hackett dominated qualifying, converting pole into the race lead at the start as he resisted early pressure from BMW Team SRM ace Steven Richards.
The intensity of the lead battle was matched by that for third between Fraser Ross (Total/Opticoat McLaren 650S GT3), Cameron McConville (Wall Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3), and Talbot.
The order was shuffled when Hackett and Talbot pitted on the same lap, reversing their positions as they dropped a lap to McConville, who handed the car to Adrian Deitz with a late stop.
The strategy call saw Deitz emerge third, with Talbot in the lead from a charging Hackett, who launched a vigorous attacked, passing the race leader at Turn 2 only to run wide and allow Talbot back.
Third went to Ross ahead of Geoff Emery (Valvoline Audi R8 LMS GT3), with a strong performance from Yasser Shahin netting The Bend Motorsport Park Mercedes-AMG GT3 driver fifth.
A sensational drive from debutante Ryan How saw the teenager claim Trophy Series honours in his national competition debut.
How and the charging Ricky Capo found themselves locked in a thrilling battle in the closing laps, the BMW driver taking sixth after a stunning drive through the field after taking the car over from Richards.
Despite losing the position, How was still the leading Trophy Class contender across the line, giving him the class victory.
“Obviously everyone wants to come first, but I didn’t expect or predict that – I was happy just to finish,” said a jubilant How.
“It’s amazing to finish first, in our first Australian GT start and the first time in the Audi at Sydney Motorsport Park.”
David Crampton and Trent Harrison (Vantage Freight KTM X-Bow GT4) enjoyed a strong race to take out the GT4 win, heading Jeremy Gray (Bilstien/JMG Aston Martin Vantage GT3) to close the gap in the championship hunt.
Points leader Tony Bates managed to bring the KFC/Ctech Laser/Moveitnet/B&B Audi R8 LMS GT3 home in tenth, and now sits tied on 752 points with Ross at the top of the championship standings.
An incredible qualifying performance from George Miedecke saw the Miedecke Motorsport/Magnaswitch Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3 set the sixth fastest time, a feat made all the more remarkable given an electrical problem saw the car running on just 11-cylinders.
Unfortunately for the father and son pairing it was unable to be resolved in time for the race, with the duo forced to sit out the 40-minute encounter.
The Australian GT action continues with two races on Saturday, Race 2 starting at 12:25pm and Race 3 at 3:25pm.