Denyer/Morcom win Phillip Island 101

The #59 McLaren of Grant Denyer and Nathan Morcom proved unstoppable at Phillip Island

The #59 McLaren of Grant Denyer and Nathan Morcom proved unstoppable at Phillip Island

Grant Denyer and Nathan Morcom produced a faultless drive to claim victory in the opening round of the Australian Endurance Championship at Phillip Island.

Starting from eighth on the grid, Morcom ran strongly inside the top 10 in the early laps before assuming the lead shortly before the first stop.

Morcom survived a flat right rear tyre at the end of his first stint in what proved to be a race plagued by tyre failures.

Denyer emerged in the lead prior to the halfway point which the McLaren held once Morcom returned for his final stint after the second stop on lap 72.

Cushioned by a 28 second lead, Morcom was able to cruise until the final laps when he faced a charging Shane van Gisbergen in the #37 Darrell Lea McLaren, who was just 0.27s shy at the flag.

A strong drive from van Gisbergen saw the Triple Eight V8 Supercars star claim second in the final laps with passes on Dominic Storey (Eggleston Motorsport Mercedes) and Daniel Gaunt (Aston Martin).

The Kiwi led the early laps of the race from pole before receiving the 650S from Klark Quinn in 10th position for the final stint.

Gaunt appeared set to claim second in the Aston Martin, he shared with Tony Quinn, before a late stop for fuel dropped him to fifth behind the Tony D’Alberto/Graeme Smyth Maranello Motorsport Ferrari 458.

The race ran without a Safety Car with the 101 laps completed in just two hours and 38 minutes.

Van Gisbergen made the most of his pole position as the McLaren headed DTM star Bruno Spengler’s BMW M6.

Factory DTM Ace Miguel Molina wasted little time in securing third spot as they chased the Darrell Lea McLaren.

The battle for the lead heated up in the early laps when Craig Baird in the Scott Taylor Motorsport Mercedes charged his way by Molina and Spengler to create a four car fight for the lead.

It proved to be a fascinating battle between the four manufacturers and the two DTM rivals in Spengler and Molina.

However, the fight was short-lived as van Gisbergen, Baird, Molina and fifth placed Storey elected to pit on lap 21, handing Spengler the lead from Morcom (McLaren).

Molina handed the #1 Audi to Tony Bates ahead of his rivals Baird and Klark Quinn, who took over the van Gisbergen car in 18th spot.

Meanwhile, Spengler hit traffic which allowed Morcom to close within 10 seconds of the BMW star before a flat right rear saw the latter pit and rejoin in eighth.

Moments later drama struck the leader Spengler when he suffered a right front puncture which forced him into the pits.

While Haber returned the BMW into 12th spot, Denyer emerged in the lead once the first stops were completed having taken over the #59 McLaren.

This came shortly after Graeme Smyth pitted the Maranello Motorsport Ferrari from the lead with a tyre failure.

The failure was one of 11 that struck during the race.

Bates in the #1 Audi, the #62 LDM Lamborghini of Alex Rullo, the SRM BMW driven by Max Twigg and the JBS Lamborghini of David Russell all suffered right rear punctures in the first half of the race.

By the halfway point, Denyer led by 19s from Peter Hackett in the Eggleston Mercedes, Klark Quinn in the Darrell Lea McLaren, the #80 Maranello Ferrari of Smyth and the Scott Taylor/Craig Baird Mercedes.

Garth Tander jumped in the #2 Jamec Pem Audi on lap 48 and began his charge into the top 10, storming up to second before his final stop.

Denyer led until lap 72 when he brought the McLaren in to the pits, with Morcom returning the car in a 28 second lead from Storey in the Eggleston Mercedes.

From there Morcom managed to control the race to take the win from van Gisbergen, Storey, D’Alberto and Gaunt.

After fighting for the lead early on, Baird and Taylor came home in sixth ahead of the #1 Audi of Molina and Bates despite their tyre failure.

The top 10 was completed by the #19 Ryal Harris/Mark Griffith Erebus Mercedes SLS, Peter Edwards and John Bowe’s Ferrari 488 GT3 and the Andrew/George Miedecke Aston Martin.

A right rear puncture in the final laps saw Tander bring the #2 Audi home in 11th, while the MARC GT BMW of Spengler and Haber finished in 13th spot.

The LDM Gallardo retired from the race after Nick Percat picked up a second right rear puncture shortly after the halfway mark.

David Russell/Roger Lago (Lamborghini), Yasser Shahin/Dean Canto (Lamborghini) and the GT Motorsport Audi of Greg Taylor and Marco Bonanomi completed the retirements from the race.

Result: Australian Endurance Championship, Phillip Island 101

1 McLaren Melbourne G.Denyer/N.Morcom McLaren 650s GT3 101 02:38:25.4394
2 Darrell Lea K.Quinn/S.Van Gisbergen McLaren 650S GT3 101 02:38:25.7176
3 Eggleston Motorsport D.Storey/P.Hackett Mercedes AMG SLS-GT3 101 02:38:31.2219
4 Maranello Motorsport T.D’Alberto/G.Smyth Ferrari 458 GT3 101 02:39:21.3894
5 Darrell Lea T.Quinn/D.Gaunt Aston Martin Vantage 101 02:39:21.4865
6 Scott Taylor Motorsport S.Taylor/C.Baird Merceds Benz AMG GT 101 02:39:37.6496
7 JAMEC PEM Racing M.Molina/T.Bates Audi R8LMS 100 02:39:35.9482
8 Hogs Breath Cafe/Griffith Corp M.Griffith/R.Harris Mercedes AMG SLS-GT3 100 02:39:56.8040
9 Maranello Motorsport P.Edwards/J.Bowe Ferrari 488 GT3 100 02:39:57.1504
10 Miedecke Motor Group A.Miedecke/G.Miedecke Aston Martin Vantage 100 02:40:53.7730
11 JAMEC PEM Racing S.McLaughlin/G.Tander Audi R8 LMS  98 02:38:27.5290
12 Objective Racing T.Walls/W.Luff McLaren 6505 GT3  98 02:38:48.2626
13 MARC GT M.Haber/B.Spengler BMW AG M6 GT3  98 02:38:57.6490
14 Maranello Motorsport L.Talbot/J.Fouracre Audi R8 LMS Ultra  98 02:39:01.5170
15 AMAC Motorsport A.McPherson/B.Shiels Porsche 997 GT-R  98 02:39:14.3165
16 Interlloy M Motorsport J.McMillan/G.Wood Lamborghini R-EX  98 02:39:22.2242
17 Supabarn Supermarkets J.Koundouris/M.Marshall Audi R8 LMS  97 02:38:28.8742
18 SR Motorsport M.Twigg/S.Richards BMW M6 GT3  97 02:38:29.8413
19 MARC Cars Australia J.Smith/N.Rowe MARC Mazda V8  94 02:40:01.2116
20 Fastway Couriers S.Ellingham/T.Miles Audi R8 Ultra  92 02:38:48.5441
21 MARC Cars Australia T.Alford/B.Lynton MARC Mazda V8  92 02:39:44.3763
22 Maranello Motorsport A.Deitz/C.McConville Ferrari 458 GT3  89 02:38:28.3786
23 MARC Cars Australia K.Kassulke/J.Camilleri MARC Focus V8  89 02:38:49.2077
DNF JBS Australia R.Lago/D.Russell Lamborghini R-EX  89 02:27:00.7739
DNF The Bend Motorsport Y.Shahin/D.Canto Lamborghini Gallardo  75 02:10:20.9314
DNF GT Motorsport G.Taylor/M.Bonanomi Audi R8 LMS  74 01:59:19.6270
DNF Performance West Motorsport A.Rullo/N.Percat Lamborghini Gallardo  47 01:23:09.5532

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