Nathan Antunes drove a flawless race to take the second race in the Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli at Townsville. The Swirk Audi driver didn’t have it all his own way with race 1 winners, the Maranello Motorsport Ferrari with Grant Denyer behind the wheel leading until the pit stop window.
Antunes and Denyer would be untroubled at the head of the field as the green flag fell, driving into the distance, comfortably gapping the rest of the field. Behind them there would be some jockeying for position with cars at times, going three wide. Though the contact was few and far between, an incident between Tony Quinn’s McLaren and the Audi of Chris Mies spun Quinn and saw Mies drive through the pits with a penalty. The penalty effectively ruined their race. Mies and Greg Crick would finish in eighth and Quinn would fight back to fifth.
A separate incident saw the Erebus Mercedes of Geoff Emery get a right rear puncture after light contact with the Ford GT of Steve Owen. The car would limp back to the pits but as the race continued, the pair, with different drivers on board would meet again. In fact it would be the only safety car of the race with Weeks now in the Ford was leading the Trophy Class. Twigg now in the Mercedes tried an inside move into the chicane, but the move wasn’t on and spun Weeks around. Weeks would get beached on the curb and his run for victory was done.
Back to the lap four, and another puncture, this time for Greame Smyth in the Trass Family Motorsport Ferrari. It had been a wretched weekend for Smyth and Jono Lester. After taking pole, an ill timed safety car ruined their first race and this incident dropped them to last. While they would fight their way back to 11th by the end, Lester was visibly frustrated.
“All the effort for no reward. A puncture on the third lap dropped us to 32nd. Balls on the line to get back to 11th at the flag,” Lester said on Facebook after the race.
A message on the Trass Family Motorsport Facebook page summed their weekend up neatly, ending simply as “Not our day, yet again”.
The rest of the field though would not have such issues. The Simon Ellinghham/Matt Campbell Porsche would have a couple of awkward spins but generally, the racing was clean. After their race 1 pitstop error, the IMAK Porsche with Brad Sheils would fight up through the field. After starting 16th, he fought to be as high as second before the pit stop cycle, and they would end up ninth at the end. Similarly, Klark Quinn who had a fairly anonymous weekend, stayed out of trouble, ran consistently and the double GT Champion took third in end.
At the front though, it was a fight between the Maranello Ferrari and the Swirk Audi. Denyer was running quick laps and held on as long as he could. Denyer had a longer compulsory pitstop time than Antunes and did build up a lead. The Ferrari pitted first on lap 21, putting the pro driver Tony D’Alberto in the car who would try to gain more time. Antunes would wait until the end of the pit window before he would conduct his compulsory pitstop and would emerge in the lead, with seven seconds up his sleeve.
The late race safety car would close the field up but Antunes had four lapped cars between him and D’Alberto. The Ferrari driver also had to navigate the JJA Lamborghini and Supabarn Porsche who were gunning for the Trophy class win and in the end, settled for second.
Though second would give him the overall round win, the first for a Ferrari since Allan Simonsen and Nick O’Halloran win the Sandown endurance race in 2008.
Jan Jinadasa would take the Trophy class after the luckless Weeks’ spin. He was in a huge battle with Theo Koundouris but the latter spun on the final corner, settling the competition. Koundouris would fall back to fifth in class and would in-fact impede his brother James who got caught up and he slipped back to tenth. Mark Griffith would finish second in Trophy and Greg Taylor/Barton Mawer would finish third, both in Audi R8 LMS’. Ben Cook and Matt Kingsley would win the Challenge Class from Richard Gartner and Michael O’Donnell, all in Porsches.
The next round of the Championship takes place at Sydney Motorsports Park on 21-23 August.
Race 2 Result
1 Nathan Antunes (NSW) Audi R8 Ultra 43
2 T.D’Alberto/G.Denyer Ferrari 458 GT3 2014 43
3 Klark Quinn (Qld) McLaren 650S GT3 43
4 Tony Walls (Qld) McLaren 650S GT3 43
5 Anthony Quinn (Qld) McLaren 650S GT3 43
6 Steven McLaughlan (Vic) Audi R8 Ultra 43
7 John Magro (Qld) Lamborghini Gallardo 43
8 C.Mies/G.Crick Audi R8 Ultra 43
9 A.Macpherson/B.Shiels Porsche 997 GT3-R 43
10 James Koundouris (ACT) Porsche 997 GT3-R 43
11 J.Lester/G.Smyth Ferrari 458 GT3 42
12 J.McMillan/J.LeBrocq Reiter Camaro GT3 42
13 Jan Jinadasa (Vic) Lamborghini LP560-4 42
14 Peter Fitzgerald (Vic) Audi R8 Ultra 42
15 Mark Griffith (Qld) Audi R8 LMS 42
16 G.Taylor/B.Mawer Audi R8 LMS 42
17 Adrian Deitz (NSW) Ferrari 458 GT3 42
18 P.Edwards/J.Bowe Bentley Continental 42
19 B.Foessel/H.Cooper Ginetta G50Z 42
20 Theo Koundouris (ACT) Porsche 996 GT3-S 42
21 M.Twigg/G.Emery Mercedes Benz AMG SL 42
22 B.Cook/M.Kingsley Porsche GT3 Cup Car 41
23 Richard Gartner (NSW) Porsche GT3 Cup Car 41
24 Michael O’Donnell (SA) Porsche GT3 Cup Car 41
25 S.Ellinghham/M.Campbell Porsche GT3 Cup Car 41
26 Tony Alford (Qld) Lotus Exige Cup R 40
27 S.Voight/S.Taylor Porsche 997 GT3 Cup 40
28 Dale Paterson (Vic) Reiter Camaro GT3 40
29 Wayne Udy (Qld) Porsche GT3 Cup Car 38
30 K.Weeks/S.Owen Ford GT 2011 GT3 36
31 Morgan Haber (Qld) Mercedes Benz AMG SL 31
32 Matthew Turnbull (Vic) Lamborghini LP-560 G 12