Aussie Audi duo win tense final Hampton Downs 500
Search Driven for vehicles for sale
Geoff Emery, with the help of Supercars ace Garth Tander, has secured the 2018 Australian GT Championship crown after winning the last Laser Hampton Downs 500.
It was a tense final phase of the race, complete with a controversial drive-through penalty for leading Kiwi Dom Storey. The race ended up coming down to a closely fought battle between Tander, John Martin, Tony D'Alberto, and Daniel Gaunt — Tander slicing through to win by 1.1 seconds.
D'Alberto's third-place finish helped him and co-driver Max Twigg win the CAMS Australian Endurance Championship title, while Gaunt's fourth place meant he was first Kiwi home in the endurance standings; he and co-driver Tony Bates [pictured above] finishing second in the standings.
Storey's co-driver Peter Hackett sat in second for much of the race behind early leader Craig Baird, only for an incident between he and Fraser Ross seeing both cars fall through the pack.
Hackett and Storey then progressed through the pack through the middle segment of the race, taking opportunities through the numerous pit cycles to eventually find themselves in the fight for first place — which at the time was held by Martin in the No. 911 Porsche.
The critical moment happened on lap 67, with Storey and Martin exchanging contact at the carousel and the New Zealander making the pass. Storey 're-addressed' the move later in the lap, allowing Martin back by.
But it was insufficient according to the officials — Storey incurring a drive-through penalty despite the incident costing neither driver much time or any positions. He resumed in fifth, where he would stay for the rest of the race as the top four duked it out.
Martin's new nearest rival was D'Alberto, with Tander and Gaunt in tow. Soon, the four drivers were all nose to tail, and it was Tander that was the one to beat. He leaped past D'Alberto on lap 79 at turn one, and then turned the blowtorch on Martin.
Tander's recurring move was to draft Martin down the back straight and peer up the inside at the right-hander at the end. But, Martin would repeatedly shut the door.
The stand-off grew more and more tense as the laps wound down, as D'Alberto and Gaunt continued to gently close in.
Lap 87 and 88, within the final 10 minutes, saw the ultimate move unfold. Tander and Martin made minor contact while dicing through the last corner in their typical dance, and with a confident run out of the last corner Tander launched up Martin's inside at turn one.
From there, Tander would prove unstoppable in first place — his 1.2-second win helping secure the Australian GT Championship crown for co-driver Emery (1104 points, versus Talbot's 1064 points and Hackett's 1041).
D'Alberto and Twigg's rousing third-place finish behind Martin/Talbot meanwhile helps them win the CAMS Australian Endurance Championship title (791 points to Bates/Gaunt on 704 points and Steve Richards/Michael Almond's 688).
|1.||Geoff Emery/Garth Tander|
|2.||Liam Talbot/John Martin|
|3.||Max Twigg/Tony D'Alberto|
|4.||Tony Bates/Dan Gaunt|
|5.||Peter Hackett/Dom Storey|
|6.||Fraser Ross/Duvashen Padayachee|
|7.||Steven Richards/Micheal Almond|
|8.||Tony Quinn/Andrew Waite|
|9.||Adrian Dietz/Cameron McConville|
|10.||Scott Taylor/Craig Baird|
|11.||Andrew Fawcet/Johnny Reid|