Mark Eddy wins thrilling opening GT race

Mark Eddy at Phillip Island

Mark Eddy at Phillip Island

Mark Eddy has taken a thrilling victory in Race 1 of Round 5 of the Vodka O Australian GT Championship at Phillip Island.

The Penfold Audi Sport driver passed Klark Quinn (Aston Martin DBRS9) for the lead on the penultimate lap of the 60 minute race as rain began to sprinkle on the circuit.

Quinn, who is sharing his father Tony’s Aston Martin today after his own Mosler MT900R suffered terminal engine problems yesterday, narrowly held on to take second from Peter Hackett (Mercedes AMG SLS).

Greg Crick (Dodge Viper) was fourth, while Ian Palmer (Dodge Viper) rounded out the top five.

Having started from pole position, Eddy led the opening laps of the race before his choice of the softer compound tyres saw him fall behind both Crick and Barton Mawer (Lotus Exige).

Crick, Mawer, Quinn and Eddy were separated by less than four seconds when the Compulsory Pit Stop window opened after 20 minutes.

Kevin Weeks was the first to dive for the pitlane, having fallen off the tail of the lead pack during the opening stint.

Crick, Mawer and Eddy also pitted before half distance, while Hackett (running fifth before the stops) and Quinn waited until the end of the 20 minute CPS window.

Boosted by the category’s new parity system that sees minimum CPS times determined by a combination of qualifying position and co-driver seeding, Klark Quinn emerged from the stops with a 10s lead over Hackett, with Crick, Eddy and Hunt locked in a close scrap for third.

Having made his way past Crick, Eddy then set off after Hackett and Quinn – passing the VIP Petfoods Aston around the back of the circuit with less than two minutes of the race remaining.

“It was a pretty good race – chasing down the other guys in the last four or five laps,” Eddy told of his victory.

“Once we got passed Klark I could see more and more rain coming on the windscreen so I just had to back out of it a fraction and concentrate on bringing it home.

“We struggled in the opening stint with tyres. We used the soft tyres for qualifying, and they don’t seem to respond well when they’ve already had a heat cycle put through them.

“The car had no grip for the first 10 minutes of the race, so when we did our pitstop we put hard tyres on the rears, got our pace back and chased them down.”

Josh Hunt, co-driving the Weeks Lamborghini, pitted from fourth place in the closing stages with tyre issues, leaving Crick, Ian Palmer (Dodge Viper), John Modystach/Jonny Reid (Porsche GT3 Cup 997), Angelo Lazaris/Barton Mawer, Damien Flack/Adrian Flack (Porsche GT3 Cup 997), Rob Sherrard (Dodge Viper) and Mark Seamons (Lamborghini Gallardo) to fill fourth through 10th.

Following the withdrawal of the Quinn and Dean Grant Moslers yesterday with engine issues, the third of the British sportscars entered for the meeting (driven by Ash Samadi) was pushed off the grid prior to race start with a broken oil line.

The Tim Poulton/Stig Richards Lotus Exige, which required an engine change yesterday, also failed to finish the race race.

A second 60 minute encounter will take place this afternoon at 3:30pm local time.

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