Liam Talbot claimed his second Australian GT Championship race win of the season after taking the flag at Barbagallo in Race 1. The Mega Racing Porsche 911 GT3-R racer rocketed to the front of proceedings following a mid-race safety car to control proceedings for the remainder of the 60-minute encounter.
“It feels unbelievable to get the second win on the trot,” Talbot enthused, having also claimed victory at the final race of Round 2 in March.
“It is a complete team effort around here, you need to come the right strategy and I believe that the two wins in a row are down to the strategy by Mat Nilsson and the Walkinshaw GT3 team executing perfect pit stop today.”
Talbot had started in seventh, and remained in contact with the front of the race throughout the early stages before emerging second behind Tony Walls after his pit stop.
At the start, pole-sitter Ash Walsh moved into the lead before extending an advantage in the Supabarn Supermarkets entry over stable-mates Kelvin van der Linde (Valvoline Jamec Pem Audi) and Daniel Gaunt (Kentucky Fried Chicken Audi).
Points leader Roger Lago made early progress too, the JBS Australia Lamborghini driver passing Peter Major (PM Motorsport Lamborghini) on lap two, before a spin a few corners later left him stuck in the gravel trap.
It triggered the safety car, after which Walsh again assumed command of the race and opened a solid advantage at the front of proceedings.
A second safety car as the pit window opened, for Greg Taylor in the GT Motorsport Audi which came to a halt on the front straight, triggered a flurry of pit lane activity.
Tony Walls emerging as the race leader in the Objective Racing entry, though his time out front was short lived as Talbot soon put a move on the McLaren at Turn 6 to take the lead.
Once out front, Talbot was never headed and built a ten second advantage, ultimately crossing the line more than seven seconds ahead of Fraser Ross (YNA Autosport) after easing off in the closing laps.
Having been passed by Talbot, Walls found himself under intense pressure throughout the remainder of the race.
First, Ross found a way through, then a fired-up Geoff Emery hunted down the McLaren driver, the duo crossing the line side by side; Walls hanging on to third from Emery in fourth.
It had been a stirring recovery from Emery, who raced back into contention for a podium after serving a drive through penalty.
Emery and the WM Waste Management Services Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Max Twigg waged a ferocious battle, the duo running nose to tail for lap after lap.
While Emery could close into the first half of the lap, Twigg then opened the advantage in the second part of the lap, making for a nail-biting battle which eventually saw Emery seize the place.
Twigg went on to finish the race in fifth place, ahead of the Ash Walsh/James Koundouris Audi.
Lago’s retirement also sees Talbot move into the lead of the Championship standings, the Mega Racing driver now holding a slender points advantage over Lago at the halfway mark of the campaign.
The result also sees Talbot start from pole position for Race 2 alongside Ross.
Peter Major has claimed victory on home soil in the second Australian GT Championship race of the weekend at Barbagallo. The PM Motorsport Lamborghini driver raced his way through the field to cross the line more than seven seconds ahead of the second placed Audi of James Koundouris and Ash Walsh.
“It’s awesome to win in front of the home crowd, all my mates are here, so it’s a really good result for us and it was good fun too,” enthused Major.
“To come from the back – we were second last at one point – and to get the win is awesome!”
Having started 13th, Major managed to avoid an opening lap incident that claimed the Objective Racing McLaren of Tony Walls and Scott Taylor’s STM Mercedes-AMG GT3.
An incident at turn two saw Walls spin while in third place, the field scattering around him before an unsighted Taylor was left with nowhere to go.
The incident drew the safety car, bunching the field behind race leader Liam Talbot (Mega Racing Porsche) who’d fended off the advances of Fraser Ross (YNA Autosport) at the race start.
At the restart Talbot opened a comfortable buffer at the front of the race, an advantage he held until his compulsory pit stop.
Solid early pace from Tony Bates saw the Moveitnet/AFS Mercedes-AMG GT3 driver emerge at the head of the race following the pit stop cycle, though soon came under pressure from the hard charging Major.
A well-timed move saw Major take the lead, opening a lead which he then managed to the chequered flag.
Bates then came under the attentions of Max Twigg in the WM Waste Management Services Mercedes, the duo inseparable throughout the final 20-minutes of the 60-minute race.
Having been handed to Walsh, the Supabarn Supermarkets entry proved rapid in the second half of the race.
Both Walsh and Audi stable-mate Kelvin van der Linde were making strong progress through the field following their compulsory stops, and quickly caught and passed Talbot’s Porsche.
Next on the duo’s radar were Twigg and Bates, who also fell victim as Audi sealed the second and third steps on the podium.
Tablot was unable to bridge the gap to the Twigg/Bates battle, trailing the two Mercedes home in sixth place.
It was a result which allowed Talbot to take out the round ahead of Geoff Emery/Kelvin van der Linde with the Ash Walsh/James Koundouris combination third for the weekend, while consistent performances Twigg claim the Gold Driver Cup.
In Championship terms Talbot has extended his advantage at the top of the standings to 28-points over Emery and Roger Lago, who are locked together in the points standings.
The next round of the Australian GT Championship will take teams to Townsville (July 7-9) for the penultimate round of the 2017 season.
Before then though, many of the runners will be in action again at the opening CAMS Australian Endurance Championship event of the year at Phillip Island on May 26-28.