Trophy fight sweeps into Phillip Island
Phillip Island will prove decisive as Round 4 of the CAMS Australian GT Trophy Series heads to the sweeping Grand Prix circuit this weekend (September 9 & 10).
Though unable to clinch the Trophy crown this weekend, Steve McLaughlan could move it all but out of reach with a good performance in his Valvoline Jamec Pem Audi R8 LMS.
Three strong events to kick off the 2017 season, including a clean sweep at Winton in Round 2, have left him in a commanding position at the top of the series.
Chasing McLaughlan is stable-mate Rod Salmon, the Skwirk Online Education Audi racer 101-points back with 220 points up for grabs at Phillip Island.
An outstanding weekend at Queensland Raceway in Round 3 saw Salmon close the points gap to McLaughlan, while a repeat performance at Phillip Island will set up a dramatic final round at Wakefield Park in November.
Richard Gartner also remains in contention, courtesy of a brilliant outing at Queensland, the Safe-T-Stop Lamborghini claiming pole position and two race wins over Salmon and Wayne Mack.
The performance rocketed Gartner up the championship leaderboard, and now brimming with confidence in the Lamborghini, he will be hoping the super fast Phillip Island circuit plays to the strengths of his Italian steed.
The quietly spoken Rick Mensa has proved he’s got the mettle, the CCC Polished Concrete pilot sits fourth in the title fight courtesy of collecting solid points in each of the three rounds so far in 2017.
So too has Jan Jinadasa, whose eye-catching JJA Consulting Lamborghini Gallardo will once again look to take the battle to the Audis at the front of the field with Gartner.
Heading to Phillip Island, Rob Smith holds fond memories of the circuit, having secured the 2016 Australian GT Trophy Series crown at the venue after a thrilling title battle that went to the very last lap of the season.
The Southern Star Developments entry had a tough weekend at Queensland Raceway that saw him record his first career DNF, but is already looking to bounce back.
The 13-car Trophy Class field also boasts the Ferrari 458 GT3 of Wayne Mack, who starred at Queensland Raceway after charging through the field in Race 1.
The Mack Bros Roofing Products entry returns as the sole Ferrari in Trophy Class, though three others in Challenge Class fly the flag for the famous Italian marque.
Numerically, Audi holds the upper hand with Travers Beynon (Travers Beynon Racing), Con Whitlock (Whitlock Bull Bars) and Rio Nugara (Eat Furniture) also representing the German manufacturer.
There’s also a two-car entry for Kentucky Fried Chicken, with Matt Stoupas stepping and Gary Higgon joining forces for a combined assault this weekend aboard a pair of Audi R8 LMS Ultras.
Completing the Trophy Class field is a third Lamborghini entry, as Mathew Turnbull and the Fire Rating Solutions Lamborghini Gallardo returns to the series for the first time in 2017.
Ferraris dominate Challenge Class, with the competitive field boasting three entries from the prancing horse.
Scott Hookey will again pilot the Fiorano Motorsport 458 Challenge, while Jamie Arratoon and John Nikolovski (Aranik Racing) will look to pick up where they left off following their impressive debut in the Series last time out.
Completing the Challenge Class field is Mark Griffith (Griffith Corporation), whose iconic Ferrari F430 has proved a fan favourite throughout 2017.
Two further entries round out a bumper field, with John Goodacre (Gap Solutions/SEKTOR) ready to muscle the Marc Focus V8 around the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit, and Justin McMillan giving the M Motorsport Interlloy KTM X-Bow its second outing of the campaign.
With just one round remaining after Phillip Island, it will be a crucial weekend with regards to the 2017 title fight, with points awarded in every session from qualifying.
Drivers will have their first opportunity to add to their points tally on Saturday (September 9) with two practice sessions ahead of two 50-minute races on Sunday (September 10).
All Sunday’s action will be streamed live and free online, with a highlights show on Speedweek following the weekend.
Round 3: Phillip Island Entry List
|1||Southern Star Developments||Audi R8 LMS Ultra||Rob Smith|
|6||Skwirk Online Education||Audi R8 LMS Ultra||Rod Salmon|
|9||Fire Rating Solutions||Lamborghini Gallardo||Mathew Turnbull|
|12||Aranik Racing||Ferrari 458 Challenge||Jamie Arratoon/John Nikolovski|
|17||Travers Beynon Racing||Audi R8 LMS||Travers Beynon|
|19||Griffith Corporation||Ferrari F430||Mark Griffith|
|22||CCC Polished Concrete||Audi R8 LMS||Rick Mensa|
|23||Kentucky Fried Chicken||Audi R8 LMS Ultra||Matthew Stoupas|
|33||Fiorano Motorsport||Ferrari 458 Challenge||Scott Hookey|
|48||M Motorsport Interlloy||KTM X-Bow||Justin McMillan|
|66||Gap Solutions/SEKTOR||Marc Focus V8||John Goodacre|
|69||Safe-T-Stop||Lamborghini Gallardo||Richard Gartner|
|72||Whitlock Bull Bars||Audi R8 LMS||Con Whitlock|
|75||Valvoline Jamec Pem Racing||Audi R8 LMS Ultra||Steve McLaughlan|
|77||JJA Consulting||Lamborghini Gallardo||Jan Jinadasa|
|88||Eat Furniture||Audi R8 LMS Ultra||Rio Nugara|
|124||Kentucky Fried Chicken||Audi R8 LMS Ultra||Gary Higgon|
|147||Mack Bros Roofing Products||Ferrari 458 GT3||Wayne Mack|