Max Twigg and Tony D’Alberto claimed the first ever CAMS Australian GT Championship win at The Bend Motorsport Park, which on short notice was held on Sunday, on the shorter International Layout due to adverse weather conditions. The WM Waste Management backed duo converted pole position into a comfortable win, commanding the race for long periods in their Mercedes AMG GT3.
To claim the victory, they beat Liam Talbot and John Martin in the Walkinshaw GT3 Porsche 911 GT3-R, and Steve Richards and Michael Almond in the BMW Team SRM M6 GT3, who completed the podium.
“If you drive outside your rating, you win – it’s like golf, if you play better than your handicap you do well,” said Twigg.
“I think I drove well, I think Tony drove well, and that’s what happens. We stayed out of trouble, we qualified strongly, and we just put it together. If you win any of these endurance races, it’s three times as good. It’s a major, it’s the one you want to win,” he added.
“And a new circuit, we worked it out quickly, and the track came to me more and more as I drove it. I’m thrilled.”
“Max did a fantastic job at the start, settled into a nice rhytym, handed the car over to me in first and it was pretty simple from there on,” added D’Alberto.
“The car was fantastic. The STM boys just did a great job; the pit stops were clean, and that’s what we were aiming for this weekend.”
Having qualified on pole, Twigg slipped behind Martin at the start, before Jake Fouracre (Eggleston Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3) claimed third with a strong move on the second tour.
Following an early safety car Tiwgg briefly dropped to fifth before climbing his way back up the order as those around him began to pit. Running an alternate strategy, Twigg remained in the car for the first 38 laps before handing it to D’Alberto for the back half of the race.
The Talbot/Martin Walkinshaw Porsche held second for much of the race, the early safety cars eliminating the lead Martin had built on the opening two laps. It was nevertheless a strong second place finish for the duo.
An equally impressive performance from the BMW Team SRM crew was rewarded with the final podium position, with Steven Richards well supported by Michael Almond. The fast starting Almond climbed one spot on the opening lap, working his way forward before handing the car to Richards on Lap 35.
Richards came close to Martin in the dying stages of the race, but with only a handful of laps remaining he was unable to bridge the gap to mount a serious challenge.
Completing the top five meanwhile, was the Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Tony Bates and Daniel Gaunt in fourth, ahead of the YNA Autosport McLaren of Fraser Ross and Duvashen Padayachee.
In championship terms in GT3, Twigg and D’Alberto now head the Australian GT Championship by two points over Martin and Talbot by just two points.
They also head the CAMS Australian Endurance Championship after the first of three rounds.
In GT4 Class, the Interlloy M Motorsport KTM X-Bow of Justin McMillan and Glen Wood continued their domination of the weekend, claiming the class win by more than ten seconds over Jeremy Gray and Andrew Miedecke (JMG/Bilstein Aston Martin Vantage GT4).
David Crampton and Trent Harrison rounded out the GT4 Class podium in the Vantage Freight backed KTM.
David Reynolds, who shared the Aussie Driver Search Mercedes with Jaie Robson, recorded the fastest lap of the race, his 1:47.6978s also the new outright lap record at The Bend.
Australian GT next heads to Sandown for Round 3 of the Australian GT Championship on May 11-13.