Prince Jefri Ibrahim and Shane van Gisbergen have taken victory in the first race of the second round of the SRO GT World Challenge Australia, held at Mount Panorama Bathurst.
Starting from 7th on the grid, Prince Jefri in the #888 Triple 8 Race Engineering Mercedes AMG managed the first stint of the race, coming through the field. He handed the car over to van Gisbergen in 4th place, just behind Chaz Mostert in the #24 Bostik Audi R8, but 10 seconds behind the leading #777 The Bend Motorsport Park Audi R8 of Garth Tander. Van Gisbergen was able to close the gap, before making the move for the lead at Murray’s Corner, with 7 minutes left in the race.
“To be honest I’d never thought of this, to win with the king of the mountain here,” Prince Jefri said after the race. “Out of words!”
“Pretty awesome!” echoed van Gisbergen. “Stoked for Prince Jefri here – First time at the mountain in a car like this is so daunting, and he’s done a great job here all weekend and to win his first race here, it’s special, really cool”
This was van Gisbergen’s first outing for the team in 2021, who is still driving with a plate in his collarbone and broken ribs after a mountain-biking crash earlier this year.
“Once I’m in the car and the adrenaline’s fine, I feel no pain. It’s cool.”
Chaz Mostert put the #24 Bostik Audi R8 he shares with Tony Bates into third, after a stop and go penalty for undercutting the minimum pit stop time by only two tenths of a second cut short his charge at the front.
The Trophy class was won by Bathurst local Brad Schumacher in the #55 Kelso Electrical Audi R8 LMS Ultra; a remarkable result considering the car underwent a full overnight repair after a tyre failure at the end of Conrod Straight pitched the car into the concrete barriers during practice. Max Twigg in the #23 KFC Audi R8 finished second, with Brett Hobson in the #96 Hobson Motorsport Nissan GTR coming home third in class.
Schumacher crash: https://www.facebook.com/
A clean start from the front of the grid saw Yasser Shahin in the #777 The Bend Motorsport Park Audi R8 take the lead, bringing with him the # 96 Hobson Motorsport GTR of Brett Hobson, who had qualified on the front row. The pair broke away at the front, while Tony Bates in the #24 Bostik Audi R8 lead a growing train of cars behind. Shahin and Hobson broke out to a 10-second lead, while Brad Schumacher in the #55 Kelso Electrical Audi R8 LMS Ultra, then Tony Quinn in the #7 Local Legends Aston Martin Vantage worked their way past Bates.
The Grove Group #4 Porsche 911 and the Triple 8 Race Engineering #888 Mercedes AMG had both qualified down the order, and Stephen Grove and Prince Jefri Ibrahim slowly made their way through the field, sneaking past Greg Taylor in the #5 Arris Prperty Developments Audi R8 LMS Ultra, and Max Twigg in the #23 KFC Audi R8 before the pit stop window opened.
SRO GT World Challenge Australia uses a Pit Time Success Adjustment to equalise performances throughout the year. Based on the results from the last round at Phillip Island, The #777 The Bend Motorsport Park Audi R8 would have 15s added to their pit stop time for winning the last race, with 10s for the #4 Grove Motorsport Porsche, and 5s for the #888 Triple 8 Race Engineering Mercedes AMG.
Shahin’s incredible first stint saw him enter the pits with a gap of over 20 seconds to the chasing Pro-Am pack, enough to give Garth Tander a lead of 10 seconds over Chaz Mostert in the #24 Bostik Audi and Shane Van Gisbergen in the #888 Triple 8 Race Engineering Mercedes AMG after their pit stops.
Mostert and Van Gisbergen then set about catching the Audi up ahead, with the pair consistently up to a second a lap faster than Tander. Both managed to eclipse Schumacher and Hobson who had emerged from the pits ahead.
With 20 minutes remaining, the gap between the leaders was down to only 3 seconds, before race control posted a 5 seconds Stop/Go penalty for the #24 Mostert/Bates Audi. The car had undercut the mandatory 100s pit stop time by two tenths of a second, bringing to an end any chance of victory. After taking the penalty, Mostert emerged in 5th place, 10 seconds behind the battle for third between Schumacher and Hobson.
This gave van Gisbergen a clear shot at his Supercars co-driver in Tander, with the gap down to less than a second with 12 minutes remaining. An awkward moment for Tander at the top of the mountain, coming across Mark Griffith’s #19 Mercedes AMG GT4 just on the entry to Skyline, reduced the gap to nothing.
Van Gisbergen made the move into Murray’s corner, with Tander trying to execute the criss-cross on the main straight. They ran side by side through Hell Corner and all the way up Mountain Straight, before van Gisbergen finally prevailed, completing the move at Griffiths Bend. From there he was never headed, bringing the #888 Mercedes AMG to the win.
Tander brought home the #777 The Bend Motorsport Park Audi R8 home in second, keeping himself and Yasser Shahin at the top of the championship. Chaz Mostert managed to overhaul both Hobson and Schumacher, the latter on the final lap, to complete the podium for him and Tony Bates.
The #4 Grove Motorsport Porsche of Stephen and Brenton Grove finished 5th, after a start infringement saw an additional 5 seconds added to their already elongated pit stop time. Adrian Deitz and David Wall completed the Pro-Am field in their #6 Wall Racing Lamborghini Huracan, finishing in 6th place.
Tony Quinn took home the Am Class honours in the #7 Local Legends Aston Martin Vantage, sitting in 9th overall, ahead of the Andrew Macpherson/Ben Porter #51 Imak Kwikmit Lamborghini Huracan. GT4 honours went to Mark Griffith’s #19 Daimler Trucks Brisbane Mercedes GT4.
The SRO GT World Challenge Australia continues tomorrow with Race 2 at 8:50am local time (UTC+10:00), as part of the support category action for the Hi-Tech Oils Bathurst 6 Hour.
Pic copyright Daniel Kalisz