It was a first win on home ground for Dominic Storey at the Australian GT Endurance Championship Hampton Downs 500 in New Zealand.
Storey, driving with Peter Hackett in the Mercedes AMG GT3 dominated the 500km race, which might prove vital in the Championship race as the duo are 76 points off the lead with 220 points on offer for a win in the final round.
Liam Talbot and John Martin had grabbed pole in a very wet qualifying session and took an immediate lead. The race was mercilessly dry and Martin took advantage of this to open up a lead.
Their luck though would not last as Martin was caught speeding in the pits and had to serve a drive through penalty and Talbot would suffer from continuing throttle issues.
While they were able to manage the car, they ultimately could not fight for victory and had to settle for fourth place. They still have an outside chance of the Championship 117 points off the Championship lead.
The title leaders are Jaxon Evans and Tim Miles in the Jamec Pem Audi. They had to fight back after aquaplaning on Saturday and damaging the car. This resulted in the team qualifying poorly but would start 10th after penalties for other drivers.
It was a combination of pace and consistency for the Audi that brought them up the field. The second place finish has put them in the driving seat for the final found in Highlands Park in two weeks.
Third was taken by Max Twigg and Tony D’Alberto in their Mercedes.
The race ran without much drama. The difficult season for the Steve Richards/Dylan O’Keefe continued.
The BMW M6 GT3 had shown pace over the weekend, running in a comfortable fourth place but would drop a cylinder and pitted on lap 84. While they would rejoin a few laps later, the problems were terminal and the car was retired.
The only safety car of the race was brought out by Scott Hooky when he spun his Mercedes. The car would not reach the finish line.
Additionally, Alvaro Parente/Fraser Ross’ run was stymied by a pit lane penalty for too many mechanics working on the car. They would then fade to finish three laps down in sixth.
However, the race belonged to Hackett and Storey. They ran a solid three stop strategy and never put a foot wrong.
It enabled Storey to take his first win and Hackett to join David Wall and the late Allan Simonsen as the drivers with the most wins in the Championship.
Hackett’s 17th win could be one of the most important of his career as he tries to take his first Australian GT Championship.
The final round of the CAMS Australian GT Endurance Championship takes place at New Zealand’s Highlands Motorsport Park on November 10 – 12.
Photo courtesy of Australian GT