Audi records back-to-back AEC wins

TIM MILES and Jaxon Evans have scored back-to-back  CAMS Australian GT Endurance Championship victories, backing up their success at Phillip Island in May with a win in the 501km race at Sydney Motorsport Park’s Red Rooster Sydney SuperSprint. 

In a tense finish, the Audi won by just 3.2 seconds after a charge to the flag from the MEGA Fuels Walkinshaw GT Porsche 911 GT3 R of Liam Talbot and John Martin, who charged through to second in the closing stages.

The Porsche reduced a more than 10-second margin to finish within sight of the winning Audi in a compelling finish to the race – officially the longest ever contested (in distance) by the Australian GT Championship.

Geoff Emery and factory Audi ace Kelvin van der Linde scored third in the second JAMEC-Pem Racing Audi, despite having spun on the opening lap after contact with the Mega Porsche at turn two.

Miles handed his fellow Kiwi the car in fourth place, with Evans quickly able to work his way into second within the final 40 laps – before setting out about chasing down teammate Geoff Emery in the race’s closing stages.

Emery had been handed a more than 30-second race lead when he took over the No. 75 car from co-driver Kelvin van der Linde during their compulsory stop – thanks to a stunning drive through the field by the South African factory Audi ace.

The leading Audi was in the middle of their compulsory timed pit stop mid-race when a Safety Car was called, a majority of their key rivals yet to stop at the time. However, the Victorian was hauled in gradually by his teammate who was able to slip past for the lead on the 109th of 129 laps.

Evans then edged away from Emery while conserving fuel on a 50-plus stint to the flag.

The Audi Customer Sport Racing team had looked set for a 1-2 result with Emery holding second place in the closing stages, however a challenging run through traffic saw him surrender significant margin to a flying Walkinshaw Racing Porsche 911 Gt3R driven by John Martin.

Martin and Liam Talbot were contenders throughout the race, the MEGA Fuels Porsche running a similar strategy to the Emery / Van de Linde Audi and stopping at similar times. After Talbot’s early stint, Martin assumed control at the stop and pressed on in pursuit of the leading Audi’s.

After passing Emery, the former Formula Ford champion set out after the leading Audi and took between half to one second per lap out of the leader in the closing stages but ran out of time to get to the back of the eventual winner.

With Emery and van der Linde third, Dylan O’Keefe and Daniel Gaunt finished fourth in their Audi R8, with Peter Edwards and Graeme Smyth fifth in the Bathurst 12 Hour winning Ferrari 488 GT3 – the last car on the lead lap.

Several key contenders had challenging days, including the Laser Plumbing & Electircal BMW M6 GT3 of James Bergmuller and Steve Richards – who ran out of fuel within one kilometer of the pit lane entry on the lap of their scheduled compulsory stop.

Max Twigg and Tony D’Alberto had run fourth late in the race however were excluded due to pitting for their mandatory stop after the pit window had closed. Greg Taylor and Grant Denyer suffered the same fate in their Audi R8 LMS.

The race started dramatically when Scott Taylor crashed heavily exiting turn one at the start of the second lap.

Taylor, who was due to share his STM entry with Craig Baird, was battling with an Audi R8 when he ran wide on the exit of the high-speed corner, his Mercedes AMG GT3 slewing across the track and impacting the wall on the inside of the circuit heavily.

Taylor was taken to the circuit medical centre for checks following the accident.

Roger Lago and David Russell failed to start in their JBS Racing Lamborghini Gallardo, forced out on the warm-up lap when brand-new Catalytic converters failed.

The CAMS Australian Endurance Championship continues in New Zealand with a 500km race scheduled for Hampton Downs in late October, while the Australian GT Championship returns to Melbourne this September at the Sandown 500.