DOUBLE Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour champion Rod Salmon and Jamec-PEM Racing’s Steve McLaughlan have split the wins in the most recent round of the Australian GT Trophy Series presented by Pirelli, held at Phillip Island on the weekend.
Salmon converted his strong practice and qualifying pace to cross the line first in race one, his Audi R8 LMS finishing ahead of Wayne Mack (Mack Bros Roofing Products) and closing the gap to series leader Steve McLaughlan to just 33-points in the process.
However McLaughlan struck back in the second race while Salmon finished a close second to take the round overall.
McLaughlan led race one race early in the Valvoline Jamec Pem Racing Audi, before an uncharacteristic spin dropped the pole-sitter down the order.
The incident also allowed Travers Beynon (Travers Beynon Racing) through to the lead, Beynon having demonstrated impressive pace throughout qualifying to start third before racing clear with McLaughlan and Salmon in the early laps.
However, it was not to be for Beynon, who spun out of the race in the closing laps, handing victory to Salmon with Mack in second.
Mathew Turnbull rounded out the podium, the Fire Rating Solutions Lamborghini completing much of the race without a bonnet after it worked its way loose at the start of lap two.
Mack stormed through the field in the opening laps after starting rear of grid, before gaining further places during the pit stop sequence to emerge in the wheel tracks of Salmon.
Heading the Challenge Modern class was Mark Griffith, who ended the race tenth overall in the Griffith Corporation Ferrari F430 GT3, claiming maximum class points following qualifying.
In race two, McLaughlan charged from eighth to first to record a stunning win. The Valvoline Jamec Pem Racing driver charged through the field in the early stages, and seized the lead during the pit stop cycle to move ahead of Rod Salmon (Skwirk Online Education), edging his way clear to take the race victory.
Tricky damp conditions greeted drivers for the start, with Salmon racing clear at the drop of the green flag to open a comfortable lead in the opening stages.
Wayne Mack (Mack Bros Roofing Products) held on to second until he was reeled in by the charging McLaughlan shortly before the pit window opened.
Jan Jinadasa (JJA Consulting), Rob Smith (Southern Star Developments) and Mathew Turnbull (Fire Rating Solutions) found themselves engaged in a tense battle that lasted the duration of the race, Jinadasa taking a narrow fourth at the chequered flag from Smith and Turnbull, who’d run third in the early stages.
Problems for Richard Gartner on the opening lap saw the Safe-T-Stop Lamborghini drop down the order, before the Queensland Raceway round winner was forced out of the race after a mix up in the pits.
Taking out the Challenge Modern Class was Mark Griffith, who scored maximum points for the weekend in the Griffith Corporation Ferrari F430.
With a maximum of 220 points on offer at the season finale, the title chase is now a straight fight between McLaughlan and Salmon after Gartner’s weekend saw him drop 225-points behind the series leader.
Australian GT action continues this weekend with the Australian GT Championship in action at the Wilson Security Sandown 500 event in Melbourne.
-With Australian GT media.