MEDIA RELEASE/Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge Australia – Photo: Velocity Magazine
Race 3 of the penultimate round of Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge saw Aaron Love and Max Vidau dominate from the start to finish. Harri Jones’ consistent run of form also saw him claim the Jim Richards Endurance Trophy.
Clear sunny skies greeted the drivers as they lined up for Race 3 early on Sunday morning. The conditions were near perfect for close racing and a welcome sight from the cloud, wind and rain that characterised the previous days.
Max Vidau made a great start from the third row of the grid, immediately leapfrogging Harri Jones and slotting in behind Love into Turn 1. The Sonic Motor Racing teammates then pulled a small gap on the chasing field in the early laps, before contact between Nathan Murray and Jonathan Gliksten forced the NSW driver over the grass and into the side of luckless Matt Belford.
The first of two safety car periods bunched the field. Love then lead Vidau, Christian Pancione, Ryan Suhle and Harri Jones onto the pit straight as the green flag waived on Lap 6.
Sam Shahin too had made a strong start as he did in Race 2 to move ahead of championship rival, Brett Boulton in the TAG Heuer Pro-Am battle. Andrew Goldie lead the Class B battle from start to finish with David Greig consolidating a strong weekend by following him to the line in second and clinching the round victory.
A second safety car period came about after Matt Belford dived up the inside of Rob Woods into turn 9. Woods would spin and beach himself in the gravel trap while attempting to re-join the race.
The green flag waved with 23 laps remaining. In the fight for the Jim Richards Endurance Trophy, even if Love held his lead to the line, Harri Jones only needed to finish sixth or better to claim the Trophy.
Ryan Suhle and Christian Pancione would then tangle onto the pit straight, leaving Jones to slot into third place.
Vidau would eventually pass Love for the lead at the mid-point of the race, while Ryan Suhle proved to be the fastest man on track for the second day in succession, breaking the lap record yet again with a time of 1:09.955.
Vidau grew his advantage over Love in the last laps and would hold onto take the race win.
After the race Sonic Racing Team Owner, Micheal Ritter spoke on the dominating performance of his two drivers, “We’ve had good results here and certainly had good speed this year, but not necessarily good results everywhere.”
“At the end of the day, the boys are racing each other no different to racing anyone else… other than a little bit more respect between them as teammates. In the end, I’m happy for Aaron to get the round win and a bunch of points as I am for Max to bounce back as he did for today’s win.”
Jones would finish in third position over 9 seconds adrift of the leading pair. The McElrea Racing driver hasn’t been out of the top three this season and now holds not only the Jim Richards Endurance Trophy but the overall Championship lead with an advantage of 92 points heading into the final round.
Jones was followed home by Pancione and Suhle, while Sam Shahin would take a strong sixth overall and the round win in TAG Heuer Pro-Am. The South Australian built a gap of over 6secs to Brett Boulton, with Michael Hovey in third.
After the race, Shahin revealed he had been nursing the car to the finish, “I’m absolutely thrilled the way I drove that last race. I did my best lap in that third race on a used set of tyres. I knew the pace was there I just had to get it together. “
“But I kept getting a water pressure alarm as we had a hole in the radiator from about halfway through and I was really praying that the car was going to make it to the finish line. It gives me a lot of confidence and a lot of things have to go right over a race weekend for everyone to leave with a smile on their face.”
Shahin then pondered the prospect of clinching the Pro-Am title at his own circuit at the final round in November, “I don’t really want to think about it, but I can’t get it out of my head at the same time. I’ve finished second in Pro-Am in Cup Challenge in the past, so I just hope it goes well.”
The final round of the 2019 championship will take place the Bend Motorsport Park on 15-16 November.
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