Geoff Emery has produced a sensational victory during the Australian GT Grand Finale in New Zealand to take out back-to-back CAMS Australian GT Championships.
Emery’s Hampton Downs 500 win, alongside Garth Tander in the Valvoline Audi R8 LMS GT3, capped off a remarkable season turnaround, which saw the 49-year-old, claim two round wins in four rounds following a disastrous start to the year.
The round win made the Victorian the only driver in the championship to claim a second round win in 2018, putting him on 1104 points, 40 points ahead of runner-up, Liam Talbot.
“It’s massive, Audi Sport Customer Racing Australia have put together an amazing car for me,” Emery said.
“We had a little bit of bad luck in qualifying but the car was reliable all year, and we just kept chipping away at it.
“Driving with professionals like Garth, it just gets the job done at the end of the day you make minimal mistakes and whoever makes the least number of mistakes wins.
“Coming back to the start of the race I thought we might be on for a podium at best, but Garth had good pace at the end of the race and all of a sudden we were in with a good chance.
“There’s no doubt we’ll celebrate, we won’t miss on that.”
Ahead of the race, a lot needed to go Emery’s way for him to claim the championship, including title rivals Peter Hackett and Fraser Ross to both end the weekend outside the podium places.
The weekend started poorly for Emery, as both Hackett and Ross proved too strong for Emery in qualifying, but the Victorian knew there was plenty of racing to unfold.
At lights out in Sunday’s race, a brilliant start from John Martin saw the Porsche 911 pilot race to an early lead, leaving the three title contenders to battle for second place.
On lap three, Emery’s luck changed when Ross and Hackett made contact midway forcing Ross off the track and to the back of the pack with a puncture, while Hackett picked up a drive through penalty for his part in the event.
An intense battle between Martin and Emery’s co-driver in Tander in the latter stages of the, saw the Supercars regular eventually replace Martin after a brilliant move on lap 83.
Despite falling behind Tander, Martin managed to hold onto second place ahead of Tony D’Alberto, who finished in third, while Hackett finished fourth ahead of Ross who rounded out the top-five.
D’Alberto’s podium finish also secured the CAMS Australian Endurance Championship title for the Supercars regular and co-driver Max Twigg.
The pair had been solid all year in the endurance rounds, placing on the podium in all three races, including the opening round victory at The Bend in April.
“Achieving your goals is always pretty special, and to win it for Max and Scott Taylor Motorsport is awesome,” D’Alberto said.
“The race was probably a little bit tougher than I expected, but up against some quality guys out there, racing hard, it was what it was meant to be like.
“We were all trying to get those last couple of points, and obviously Geoff and Garth trying to win the Australian GT Championship, and we were trying to wrap up the Australian Endurance Championship.
“I am really stoked and really happy.”