The Australian GT Championship took to the Townsville street track for round 5. It was a good weekend for McLaren and the Series finale will be a cracker
Honours even after Quinn races to first win of 2016
Klark Quinn has claimed his first victory of the 2016 CAMS Australian GT Championship campaign, taking out the first of two races at Townsville, raising the championship stakes in the process.
Having qualified fifth, an electric start saw the Darrell Lea McLaren 650S GT3 driver move up to fourth on the opening lap before seizing the race lead following the pit stop sequence and holding it to the flag in a race than ran without interruption.
Tony Bates had held top spot in the JAMEC PEM Racing Audi R8 LMS, stepping into the car following a blistering opening stint by co-driver Christopher Mies.
Mies had earlier qualified the car on pole, the German becoming the first man to lap the 2.8-kilometre Reid Park circuit under 72-seconds; a feat the reigning Australian GT champion repeated in the race to shatter the previous lap record.
His metronomic stint saw the Audi factory driver reset the lap record on multiple occasions, loweing the benchmark to 1:11.9875 – almost a second faster than the previous mark.
Craig Baird too lapped under the previous lap record before handing the car to Scott Taylor at the stops.
During the pit stop cycle Quinn manged to split the lead duo, taking over second place on lap 28 before making inroads into Bates’ six second advantage.
Quinn slowly reeled in the race leading Audi before making his move for the lead with just 11 laps to run, with Bates taking a strong second place finish at the flag.
A late charge from Roger Lago, who had qualified eighth, saw the JBS Australia Lamborghini R-EX driver rise to third place at the finish, fending off the efforts of the fast finishing Nathan Morcom.
The championship leader heading into the race, a fourth place finish for Morcom, and 12th in qualifying sees, saw Klark Quinn move level on points, 509 apiece, with three races left in the 2016 championship.
A combative drive from Tony Quinn saw the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 chalk up fifth place while Greg Taylor, fresh from his double success at Sydney Motorsport Park with the CAMS Australian GT Trophy Series presented by Pirelli last weekend, secured sixth place.
The Justin McMillan/Glen Wood pairing raced their way into seventh place in the Interlloy M Motorsport Lamborghini R-EX to give the Italian marque to representatives in the top ten.
Having run third early in the race, the Jonathon Webb/Grant Denyer McLaren Melbourne entry charged back through the field following their stop to take a hard-earned eighth place, missing out on seventh when Marcus Marshall got by on the final lap in the Audi R8 LMS he shared with James Koundouris.
There was non-stop action for John Martin and Neale Muston in the Walkinshaw GT3 as the duo battled their way to eleventh in an incredibly competitive field.
Also in the thick of the action, Nathan Antunes and Elliot Barbour sealed a place inside the top ten, with three McLarens and three Audis represented.
Tony Walls ended the race one spot up the road from Marc Cini, who headed a tight pack of four cars all covered by little more than two seconds.
Shadowing Cini across the line was Scott Taylor, with the Andrew Macpherson/Brad Shiels AMAC Motorsport Porsche just a second further back.
Peter Rullo was also in the mix, the Lamborghini Gallardo ready to pounce should any of the trio ahead have offered opportunity.
Ash Samadi ended his first race in the brand-new Audi R8 LMS ahead of Steve Richards and Max Twigg in the BMW M6 GT3, Simon Ellingham’s Audi R8 Ultra and the Mark Griffith/Scott Hookey pairing in the sole Mercedes AMG SLS GT3.
Walls triumphs in Townsville thriller
Tony Walls has claimed his second win of the 2016 CAMS Australian GT Championship following a dramatic finale around the streets of Townsville.
Walls took control of the race following the pit stop sequence, holding the lead until two corners from home when a hard-charging Klark Quinn managed to find a way by the Objective Racing McLaren
A strong start to the race saw Quinn open a small but comfortable lead in the opening phase of the race, before a stunning charge through the field in the final stanza set up a nail-biting finale.
Walls, in the Objective Racing entry, held a 5.4 second lead at lap 40 over a determined Quinn, who edged his way closer until he was in the wheel tracks of Walls’ McLaren on the final lap.
A yellow flag at turn 11 for Simon Ellingham’s Fastway Audi R8 LMS limited Quinn’s passing opportunities, the Darrell Lea driver tucking back in behind Walls car as they approached the yellow flag zone.
Walls ran deep into the turn, leaving Quinn to take the racing line and move into the race lead.
However, in the heat of battle Quinn had made his move too early and had 25-seconds added to his race time to finish seventh, leaving Wall to claim a stunning second Australian GT race win.
Earlier, Roger Lago had valiantly defended second place from Quinn for almost ten laps before the Darrell Lea McLaren 650S GT3 found a way through and set off in pursuit of race leader Walls.
Lago in the JBS Australia Lamborghini R-EX finished five seconds beind Walls with Craig Baird in the Scott Taylor Motorsport Mercedes AMG GT3 just half a second behind in third place.
John Martin and Neale Muston combined for fourth place, the Walkinshaw GT3 Porsche GT3-R proving strong under brakes to climb from eleventh after Race 1.
Tony Bates held on the second in the Audi R8 LMS in the opening laps, resisting intense pressure from Nathan Antunes before the McLaren driver found a way by.
Nathan Morcom and Marcus Marshall followed Antunes’ Beechwood/SLR/Buildmap entry through before Antunes impressive forward march was slowed with a long brake pedal.
Antunes and Elliot Barbour managed the car to 19th place at the flag, one spot back from Justin McMillan and Glen Wood in the Iterlloy M Motorsport Lamborghini which had suffered a puncture in the opening laps.
Christopher Mies took over the #1 JAMEC PEM Audi from Bates after 20 laps with the German carving his way foward after their stop to fifth place.
James Koundouris and Marcus Marshall, who ran as high as second, ended the race in a solid six place to claim valuable championship points while Tony Quinn was classified eighth and Steve McLaughlan an impressive ninth place having been among the thick of the action in the early stages.
Jonathon Webb drove the McLaren 650S GT3 he shares with Grant Denyer hom to ninth place, one spot up from team-mate, and championship leader heading into Townsville, Nathan Morcom in the Direct Plasterboard Outlet entry.
A trio of Audi’s then followed, Marc Cini heading Ash Samadi and Greg Taylor.
Steve Richards and Max Twigg continue to come to grips with the BMW Team SRM M6 GT3 with Andrew Macpherson and Brad Shiels following them home.
A puncture ended Ricky Capo’s race after just two laps, the Modena Engineering BMW Z4 GT3 retiring at the beginning of the third lap.
Two strong results across the weekend saw Roger Lago take out the round ahead of Klark Quinn and the Tony Bates/Christopher Mies combination.
With Quinn in seventh and Morcom eleventh the championship battle continues, meaning the champion will be crowned at the very last round of the season at Highlands Motorsport Park (November 11-12).