Australian GT: Melbourne confuses, new Ferraris and AMGs shine


It may not have been the banner weekend the Australian GT were chasing but the new entries from Ferrari and AMG showed great pace through the four races


Race 1

Craig Baird had handed the Mercedes-AMG GT3 its first ever win as the Scott Taylor Motorsport driver claimed the opening races at Round 2 of the CAMS Australian GT Championship.

Baird drove a measured race to cross the line in second place behind Christopher Mies as the category made its long awaited return to Albert Park – having last supported the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix in 2010.

Mies, who had started on pole, led the race from lights to flag before adjusted time saw the JAMEC PEM Audi R8 LMS relegated to second place.

A unique format this weekend sees cars race without compulsory pit stop times, with post-race ‘pit stop’ times applied post-race.

Enjoying a shorter pit stop time than Mies, Baird therefore claimed the race despite crossing the line in second place.

“Chris drove a fantastic race, he deserved the win,” Baird said afterwards. “I just didn’t have the pace to pass him.

“I had to push really hard,” acknowledged Mies. “I had nothing more to give.

“Craig was probably faster than me; I was right on the limit.”

Jonathon Webb, who’d joined Mies on the front row, faded as the race wore on to eventually cross the line tenth.

That became 18th once the order had been corrected, the Melbourne McLaren racer admitting he simply lacked the pace to run with the leaders.

Marcus Marshall ended the race third while former F1 racer and Ferrari test-driver Andrea Montermini gave Vicious Rumour Racing a strong result with the all-new Ferrari 488 GT3 in fourth place.

George Miedecke waged door-to-door battle with Webb over what would become fifth place.

The pair swapped positions a number of times before the Miedecke Motor Group Aston Martin Vantage GT3 gained the upper hand, going on to take eighth at the flag.

Series debutante Alex Rullo was one of only two retirements from the race.

The teenager narrowly avoided contact with Tony Walls in the closing stages after putting in a stellar performance to that point.

The off saw Rullo lightly brush the wall, the youngster choosing to park the Performance West Lamborghini Gallardo FLII as a precaution.

Steve Richards was the other retirement after the BMW Team SRM driver sustained damage to the rear of the M6 GT3 at the first corner.

Deciding caution was the better part of valour, Richards stopped the car at the end of the first lap as the team look ahead to the remainder of the weekend.

Out from, Baird claimed a new lap record to go with his race win, the Scott Taylor Motorsport driver shattering the previous mark set by Tony Quinn in an Aston Martin in 2009.

The new mark, a 1:55.1134 proved more than 4.7 seconds faster than Quinn’s 2009 effort, with 16 others also managing to beat the previous best.

Victory for Baird will see Scott Taylor start from pole tomorrow as lead drivers hand their cars over to their team-mates for Race 2

Vicious Rumour Racing - Ferrari 488 GT3. Andrea Montermini/ Benny Simonsen Photo: Grand Prix Media
Vicious Rumour Racing – Ferrari 488 GT3. Andrea Montermini/ Benny Simonsen
Photo: Grand Prix Media

Race 2

Nathan Morcom has won a dramatic second race around Albert Park as the CAMS Australian GT Championship supports the 2016 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix.

As a damp track beckoned, Morcom was one of a handful of drivers who chose to start on slick tyres before a late race downpour shook up proceedings in the final stages.

Morcom and his TEKNO Autosport team-mates Grant Denyer and Elliot Barbour all opted for the dry Pirelli P-Zero tyres, as did the Vicious Rumour Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 of Benny Simonsen.

The quartet benefited as much of the field pulled into the pits at the end of the first sighting lap, switching to dry rubber at the sacrifice of their grid position.

Among the few who chose to stay out on wets, pole-sitter Scott Taylor headed the field to the flag but quickly lost out as his Mercedes-AMG GT3 found itself unable to match the slick-shod cars around him.

The same fate befell Peter Edwards and Max Twigg, both of whom had gained positions as the field pitted only to lose out as conditions favoured the slick rubber.

Promoted to an effective front-row start, Simonsen claimed an early lead before opening a sizeable advantage to Morcom, who made his way into second place in the early stages.

Simonsen’s advantage extended to more than six seconds midway through the race before a mistake as the rain began to fall allowed Morcom the opportunity to close the gap.

The TEKNO Autosports McLaren driver then harried the back of the race leading Ferrari but was unable to find a way through.

Morcom would cross the line second, little more than a car length behind Simonsen, but won the event once compulsory pit stop times were adjusted.

“We thought this would be our weakest link,” Morcom said of racing arond the Albert Park circuit.

“It’s a credit to the TEKNO Austosports crew and puts us in the best possible place for tomorrow.”

Grant Denyer and Geoff Emery shared an exciting battle, which saw the JAMEC PEM Audi get the better of the McLaren at the flag after running nose to tail for much of the race.

It was Denyer however who was classified ahead in the final results, the McLaren Melbourne car fifth with Emery’s Audi sixth.

The biggest mover was Klark Quinn, who dived into the pits before the race had started for a change of tyres before scything through the field to be classified third.

McLaren ended the race with four cars in the top five after Elliot Barbour also rose well through the field starting 15th, leaving the SLR Tekno Autosports McLaren is a strong position for Race 3 on Saturday.


Race 3

Matt Solomon has claimed victory in the third CAMS Australian GT Championship race as the category supports the 2016 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix in Albert Park.

Solomon emerged on top following a dramatic race, which ended with a one-lap dash to the flag after a safety car period for a collision in the early stages.

Contact between Roger Lago and Tony Quinn saw the JBS Lamborghini spin across the front of the pack which scattered to avoid the incident.

Despite their best efforts a number of others were caught up, including both M Motorsport Lamborghinis, Dean Canto in the Taplin Real Estate Lamborghini, Craig Baird in the Scott Taylor Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Tony D’Alberto in the Maranello Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3.

The incident drew the safety car, with Andrea Montermini heading the pack at the restart.

The Vicious Rumour Racing Ferrari had taken control of the race from the race start, getting the jump on pole-sitter Nathan Morcom into the first corner.

Montermini then underscored his position at the head of the queue with a perfect restart, opening a comfortable gap to Morcom’s TEKNO Autosport McLaren 650S GT3 to win by just over a second in the dash to the flag.

However, on adjusted time it was Solomon who emerged victorious, taking his first win in the category ahead of Steve McLaughlan and Klark Quinn.

It also proved to be Eggleston Motorsport’s first ever Australian GT victory, and the second for the Mercedes-AMG GT3.


Race 4

Audi drivers Christopher Mies and Geoff Emery have won the second round of the CAMS Australian GT Championship at Albert Park.

A consistent weekend from the JAMEC PEM pair saw them take out the round after claiming pole position during qualifying on Thursday.

Emery ended the final race of the weekend in second place behind his Melbourne Performance Centre Audi R8 LMS of James Koundouris.

It was a 1-2 result for the Melbourne Performance Centre as Koundouris and team-mate Marcus Marshall finished second for the weekend, with the TEKNO Autosport McLaren of Nathan Morcom third.

The final race of the weekend proved a tale of two halves, with Matt Solomon opening a hefty advantage before the safety car emerged following an incident between Peter Rullo’s Lamborghini Gallardo and Andrew Macpherson’s AMAC Motorsport Porsche 997 GT3-R.

Solomon’s lead evaporated under the safety car, which remained on track for the remainder of the race.

With compulsory pitstop times then added, it was Koundouris who claimed the race win ahead of Emery and the Objective Racing McLaren of Tony Walls in third place.

Having started on the front row, Steve McLaughlan in the second JAMEC PEM Audi fell to 16th at the finish, but did enough to win the Gold Driver Cup for the round.

For McLaughlan, it was the perfect way to introduce his brand-new car.

“We should have run this car in Adelaide; it would have been faster,” he joked after the race.

“I’m still getting used to the new car,” he added. “We’ll try and do a test day before Barbagallo and hopefully go a bit quicker again.”

The third round of the CAMS Australian GT Championship will see the category make its first ever visit to Barbagallo on May 6-8.

Australian GT is back in action at Sandown on April 1-2, with the opening round of the CAMS Australian GT Trophy Series.