Australian GT: Ferrari and Audi share the spoils in Townsville


Maranello Motorsport took their first Australian GT round win since 2008 at Townsville. They fought hard with the IMAK Porsche and Swirk Audi…rv1Race 1

THE results of today’s first race in round three of the Australian GT Championship Presented by Pirelli in Townsville have been altered significantly following a post-race penalty applied to the across-the-line winner.

The Porsche GT3-R of Andrew MacPherson and Brad Shiels crossed the line first to win the one-hour, 46-lap opening race of the weekend, however have been demoted to 16th place in the final classification via a post race penalty confirmed by race officials this afternoon.

They were adjudged to have not completed their Compulsory Pit Stop time duration and were penalised the equivalent time penalty of twice their allocated pit stop time, a total of three minutes and 12 seconds.

The penalty elevates the Maranello Motorsport Ferrari 458 GT3 of Tony D’Alberto and Grant Denyer to victory, Tony Quinn’s McLaren to second and the Erebus Mercedes-Benz of Geoff Emery and Max Twigg to third.

PORSCHE pilots Andrew MacPherson and Bradley Shiels have combined to claim an upset victory in Race 1 of this weekend’s third round of the Australian GT Championship Presented by Pirelli in Townsville.

The AMAC Motorsport pairing qualified fourth on the grid due to Shiels’ time set in this morning’s second qualifying session and were best placed at the completion of the compulsory pit stops.

Their minimal pit stop time helped vault them back up the order after MacPherson started the race and slipped back in the field due to the number of faster professional drivers nominated to start the race in other cars around him.

Shiels sat in the lead once all cars had made their compulsory pit stop with the window for stopping closing at two-thirds race distance – he was then able to comfortably control the remainder of the race to claim a maiden victory.

It was the first win for a Porsche in the Australian GT Championship since Klark Quinn won the Queensland Raceway round back in 2013.


Not even a collision in pit lane – where the Erebus Motorsport Mercedes of Geoff Emery clipped the rear wing of the Porsche upon its departure – could slow the GT3-R from claiming victory over Grant Denyer and Tony D’Alberto’s Maranello Motorsport Ferrari 458 GT3.

Denyer and D’Alberto started fifth with the latter behind the wheel in the opening stint, though the Network 10 ‘Family Feud’ TV host and experienced racer was the one on board in the second half of the race and was able to slice his way through from the tail of the top 10.

Tony Quinn’s STIX McLaren 650S claimed third position from the Geoff Emery/Max Twigg Erebus Mercedes.

Nathan Antunes recovered to finish fifth after running at the front prior to the compulsory pit stops. He tailed Denyer initially but was unable to follow the Ferrari further up the results sheet in the latter part of the 46-lap race.

Canberra’s James Koundouris finished a solid sixth clear of John Magro’s Lamborghini and the pole-sitting Trass Family Ferrari of Jono Lester and Graeme Smyth.

Earlier in the day Lester became just the third driver in Australian GT Championship history to claim three consecutive pole positions and the first since the late Allan Simonsen did it in 2008.

The flying New Zealander led the race in the early stages and managed to build a margin to the field, an important fact given the car had a compulsory pit stop time of two minutes and nine seconds.

But a Safety Car – for the expired Camaro of Justin McMillan – bunched up the field and eroded the race lead he had worked for nearly 20 minutes to build.

The JAMEC PEM Racing Audis finished ninth and 10th with front-row starters Greg Crick/Christopher Mies leading home the team car of Steve McLaughlan.

German star Mies set the fastest lap of the race four laps from the end. It’s the fourth time in five races this year that he’s set the fastest lap in an Australian GT race.

Kevin Weeks and Steve Owen won the Trophy Class in the Supaloc Ford GT, Owen slicing his way through the field in the second part of the race to catch and pass class leader Jan Jinadasa’s Lamborghini.

Jinadasa finished second from Theo Koundouris’ Porsche and Mark Griffith’s Audi.

Porsche pilot Michael O’Donnell won the Challenge Class in his GT3 Cup Challenge car from the similar vehicles of Richard Gartner.

29 of the 32 starters made it to the finish of the one-hour race with Michael Hovey a non-starter after a crash in morning qualifying in his Ginetta G55.


Race 2

AUDI pilot Nathan Antunes has taken victory in the final race of the third round of the Australian GT Championship Presented by Pirelli in Townsville – but it wasn’t enough to win the weekend overall.

Maranello Motorsport duo Grant Denyer and Tony D’Alberto came home second and, coupled with their win in Race 1 on Saturday, scored enough points to claim their maiden Australian GT Championship round win.

It also broke a long drought for Ferrari teams in AGT rounds with D’Alberto and Denyer the first Ferrari pilots to win a round in the championship since the late Allan Simonsen and Nick O’Halloran at Sandown in 2008.

The victory also means three different drivers or combinations have won the first three rounds of this year’s championship.

Adelaide round winner Antunes was second overall for the round via his win today in a race he always looked in control of.


Less compulsory pit stop time for his Audi R8 LMS Ultra helped him vault the Ferrari to take the lead of the race when he re-joined from his stop.

It wasn’t totally smooth sailing though given there was a late Safety Car period in the closing stages of the one-hour race after contact between Max Twigg’s Mercedes and Kevin Weeks’ Trophy Class-contending Ford GT that had led the class earlier in the hands of Steve Owen.

Weeks’ Ford found itself stranded at Turn 9, necessitating the appearance of the Safety Car to give D’Alberto a chance to challenge Antunes for the victory.

However he was unable to clear the lapped cars in between he and the leader in time to challenge Antunes and the Ferrari came home second.

Third place was taken by Klark Quinn’s McLaren 650S with fellow McLaren pilots Tony Walls and Tony Quinn fourth and fifth.

JAMEC PEM Audi driver Steve McLaughlan finished sixth clear of John Magro’s Lamborghini.

Punctured tyres took the Ferrari of Graeme Smyth/Jono Lester and the Mercedes-Benz of Geoff Emery/Max Twigg out of contention before the pit stop window opened at the one-third race mark, while a pit lane penalty for contact with Tony Quinn’s McLaren killed the chances of German Christopher Mies.

Again he set the fastest lap of the race but he and co-driver Greg Crick were forced to settle for an eighth place finish.

A total of 43 laps were completed in the race, which ran to a time-certain one-hour length.

Lamborghini driver Jan Jinadasa won the Trophy Class and finished 13th overall. Audi drivers Mark Griffith and the duo of Greg Taylor/Barton Mawer finished second and third.

Porsche pilots Matt Kingsley and Brendan Cook won the Challenge Class in their GT3 Cup Challenge Porsche with the similar cars of Richard Gartner and Michael O’Donnell second and third.

The Australian GT Championship Presented by Pirelli will now move to Sydney Motorsport Park in late August where round four will support the V8 Supercars Championship.