Tony D’Alberto and Max Twigg have dominated the Australian GT Championship race at The Bend Motorsport Park.
Having qualified on pole, the pair led for much of the race, building a sizeable advantage, the final nine-second margin owing to a late-race Safety Car.
“I think I drove well, I think Tony drove well, and that’s what happens. We stayed out of trouble, we qualified strongly, and we just put it together,” said Twigg.
“If you win any of these endurance races, it’s three times as good. It’s a major, it’s the one you want to win.
“And a new circuit, we worked it out quickly, and the track came to me more and more as I drove it. I’m thrilled.”
“Max did a fantastic job at the start, settled into a nice rhythm, handed the car over to me in first and it was pretty simple from there on,” added D’Alberto.
“The car was fantastic. The STM boys just did a great job; the pit stops were clean, and that’s what we were aiming for this weekend.”
Twigg started the race and was quickly jumped by John Martin in the Walkinshaw GT3 Porsche, before a spin from Yasser Shahin in the opening lap drew an early Safety Car interruption.
When racing resumed, Jaie Robson found the same gravel trap at Turn 8, forcing another intervention.
Having fallen to fifth in the opening laps, Twigg remained on track until Lap 38 when he handed the car to D’Alberto from the lead.
The bulk of the field had elected to stop early, swapping their Pro rated driver out for the Am who completed the middle stint.
The two early Safety Car interventions, and a stout defence from Twigg when attacked by Talbot in the middle stages of the race, played into the STM squad’s hands.
Martin and co-driver Liam Talbot ended the day second, despite leading the early laps, with Steven Richards and Michael Almond third in the BMW M6 GT3.
Audi’s race was ruined when Geoff Emery and Garth Tander were forced to serve a fourth compulsory pit stop, after it was deemed to have moved the car during its first stop.
Emery had pulled the Valvoline entry up short, with the team pushing it into the pit bay, releasing the car without accounting for the delay in its arrival.
The extra stop, served one lap before the pit window was due to close, saw the Tander/Emery entry fall from seventh to 12th.
David Reynolds set the fastest lap of the race, a 1:47.698s effort which is also the outright lap record on the International circuit.
Shane van Gisbergen and Tony Quinn could manage no better than 11th, a five-second post-race penalty for a starting infringement dropped them two places.
Twigg and D’Alberto now lead both the Australian GT Championship and Australian Endurance Championship, The Bend acting as a round of both competitions.
Australian GT’s next event is at Sandown in May, though that event doesn’t count towards the Endurance championship.
|1||WM Waste Management||Max Twigg/Tony D’Alberto||Mercedes-AMG GT3||78||2:41:30.872||CH|
|2||Walkinshaw GT||John Martin/Liam Talbot||Porsche 911 GT3-R||78||2:41:39.724||CH|
|3||BMW Team SRM||Steve Richards/Michael Almond||BMW M6 GT3||78||2:41:41.266||CH|
|4||KFC/Ctech Laser/Moveitnet/B&B||Tony Bates/Daniel Gaunt||Audi R8 LMS||78||2:41:42.938||CH|
|5||Total/Opti-Coat/Logitech||Fraser Ross/Duvashen Padayachee||McLaren 650S GT3||78||2:41:46.046||CH|
|6||Eggleston Motorsport||Peter Hackett/Jake Fouracre||Mercedes-AMG GT3||78||2:41:46.597||CH|
|7||Objective Racing||Tony Walls/Warren Luff||McLaren 650S GT3||77||2:41:37.806||CH|
|8||Timken Zagame Motorsport||Adrian Deitz/Cameron McConville||Lamborghini Huracan||77||2:41:38.224||CH|
|9||Ah Apartments||Ash Samadi/Dylan O’Keeffe||Audi R8 LMS||77||2:41:40.734||CH|
|10||Scott Taylor Motorsport||Scott Taylor/Craig Baird||Mercedes-AMG GT3||77||2:41:41.589||CH|
|11||Mriani Beef Jerky||Tony Quinn/Shane van Gisbergen||McLaren 650S GT3||77||2:41:45.277||CH|
|12||Valvoline||Geoff Emery/Garth Tander||Audi R8 LMS||76||2:41:41.830||CH|
|13||Haemokinesis/Trofeo Estate/FreeM||Jim Manolios/Dean Canto||Lamborghini Huracan||75||2:41:32.158||CH|
|14||Aussie Driver Search||Jaie Robson/David Reynolds||Mercedes-AMG GT3||75||2:41:36.382||CH|
|15||The Bend Motorsport Park||Yasser Shahin/Luke Youlden||Mercedes-AMG GT3||74||2:41:56.737||CH|
|16||Interlloy M Motorsport||Justin McMillan/Glen Wood||KTM X-Bow||72||2:42:25.799||GT4|
|17||JMG Bilstein||Jeremy Gray/Andrew Miedecke||Aston Martin Vantage GT4||72||2:42:36.389||GT4|
|18||Interlloy M Motorsport||David Crampton/Trent Harrison||KTM X-Bow||71||2:42:24.809||GT4|
|DNF||Hogs Breath Café/Griffith Corporation||Mark Griffith/Harrison Jones||Ginetta G55 GT4||62||2:21:42.447||GT4|