FOUR-TIME Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour class champions Grove Racing have helped Australia record a podium finish in the first ever FIA Motorsport Games, held over the weekend in Italy.
Patriotic father-and-son duo Stephen and Brenton Grove brought home bronze medals for Team Australia following an unpredictable pair of races in the GT Cup at the Autodromo Vallelunga.
The pair were driving a Porsche 911 GT3R prepared by Herberth Motorsport, the same squad that ran the Team Australia Porsche Supercup campaign this year.
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Grove Racing are statistically the most successful team in the history of Australia’s International Enduro, having won Class B on four occasions since their debut in 2013. The team has added a further pair of runner-up finishes and has been first or second in six of their seven 12-Hour starts.
Their impressive enduro experience has since translated to success overseas including at the Italian circuit at the weekend.
With three races in total across the event, all taking place in adverse weather conditions, it all built up to the medal-deciding main race on Sunday following their 9th and 12th place finishes in the two respective qualifying races.
Stephen started the main race in eighth, and with rain lingering at the Italian circuit, the conditions were tough for all drivers.
Putting the Team Australia Porsche on strong footing for the hour-long race Stephen made a terrific start and had an impressive opening stint.
He pitted at the halfway mark for the compulsory driver change having climbed to fifth, handing over to Brenton for his stint who was eager to continue the charge.
With the rain getting heavier in the latter half of the race, Brenton managed to hold his own in trying conditions before the Safety Car was called on Lap 19 due to the extreme conditions.
Racing resumed two laps later and Brenton made his move, climbing from seventh to fourth with a brilliant effort before yet another Safety Car intervention on Lap 22.
The Grove pair were promoted to third after the Belgium entry in front of them was handed a drive-through penalty for an earlier incident, leaving the Groves to take home a third-place finish.
Grove Snr. and Grove Jnr. were ecstatic with the achievement of bronze medals as they sprayed the champagne on the Vallelunga podium.
Their result also contributed to Team Australia’s overall medal tally for the FIA Motorsport Games as Australia ended up equal-second on the leaderboard with two medals, the other courtesy of Cody Nikola Latkovski’s gold medal in the Digital Cup.
“To come over here and represent your country, do it with your son and more importantly do it in a Porsche is just fantastic,” Grove Snr said.
“We’ve had a hard weekend, we’ve come here and had crazy conditions and we’ve been able to pull it together for third, it’s just outstanding. To represent Australia means an awesome amount to us both. We’re so proud that we were able to represent our country and so proud that we can bring something back to our country.”
Grove Racing are yet to confirm their 2020 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour plans following changes to the class structure for the 2020 Event next January 31-February 2.
The Grove’s previous domain of Class B will shift from Porsche’s venerable GT3 Cup Car to the Lamborghini SuperTrofeo one-make racer next year.