Porsche Junior Jordan Love has extended his lead in the Jim Richards Endurance Trophy after the opening Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia presented by Pirelli race at Sydney Motorsport Park, while the Elite Class battle had on-lookers glued to the timing screens late in the race.
While gaining on pole position, Love started the 30-lap endurance race poorly, dropping to third behind Brenton Grove and Anthony Gilbertson, though the safety car was immediately called to the circuit following a race start incident involving Phil Morriss, ending his race.
Love capitalised on the early-race intervention by quickly moving through to the race lead on the restart and building a substantial gap to his rivals. While his lead was reduced in the closing laps, Love remained unchallenged to the chequered flag, taking his second Jim Richards Endurance Trophy win race of the season.
“It was a great result, especially for the Jim Richards Endurance Trophy. There is only one more long-distance race to go this season, but they are long races so anything can happen. My immediate focus will be on tomorrow’s two races and then I’ll think about the final Jim Richards Endurance Trophy race at Queensland Raceway,” said Love, who now leads the Endurance Trophy standings by 15 points over Grove.
“I had a really poor start but the safety car really helped out to get me back in the race. I had to push after the restart and Brenton didn’t make it easy. Once I got into the lead I put my head down and managed to pull a gap. I struggled for grip over the last 10 laps which cost me a bit of time, as did the traffic. We’ll work on a few things now and aim for something similar tomorrow.”
Grove placed a comfortable second for the race, though it was the battle behind the young Victorian that captured attention late in the race.
Sam Shahin was third on track in the closing stages of the race, however due to a five-second penalty for a race start infringement, the race was on to establish a five-second margin to Gilbertson in fourth. Unfortunately for Shahin, the gap to Gilbertson was only 4.9 seconds at the chequered flag, handing Gilbertson his fourth straight Elite Class race win following his Winton class clean sweep.
“I’m really happy as I had to work pretty hard for it,” said Gilbertson. “I had a ripper of a start and got past Love. The safety car was a shame as I had a good break to the other Elite Class drivers behind me with Jordan in between us. I got a good lead on Sam but then I was told that he had a five-second penalty. My rear tyres started going off really early in the race so I had to let him go because I had no speed. Then for the rest of the race I was just trying to manage the gap. I think the gap got out to 5.4 seconds and then over the last three laps I got it under five seconds again. The last lap was like qualifying lap with no grip, so it was fairly exciting.”
John Morriss was the fifth driver to cross the finish line however a five-second penalty, also for a race start infringement, promoted Brett Boulton to fifth place in the race results from Morriss, John Steffensen and Shane Barwood – the latter duo battling for position for the majority of the race.
David Greig was the best of the Class B runners with ninth outright from Marcel Zalloua and Brendan Cook in 11th.
Ross McGregor failed to finish after sustaining right-front suspension damage.
Love now leads the outright standings by 51 points and the Professional Class standings by 49 points with Grove placed second in each.
Gilbertson moves to second in the Elite Class standings and now trails Shahin by 27 points.
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia presented by Pirelli returns for race two and race three tomorrow, both of which can be viewed via the Shannons Nationals live stream, available at motorsportaustraliachampionships.com.au.
Sunday July 09, 2017
09:28am Race 2 (10 laps)
1:41pm Race 3 (10 laps)
Results: Race 1
1. #79 Jordan Love (Professional Class) Sonic Motor Racing / Quintis – 30 laps, 52:43.2750s
2. #23 Brenton Grove (Professional Class) Grove Hire – 30 laps, 52:44.3492s
3. #19 Anthony Gilbertson (Elite Class) Hallmark Homes – 30 laps, 53:20.9209s
4. #13 Sam Shahin (Elite Class) HTFU – 30 laps, 53:21.0576s
5. #84 Brett Boulton (Elite Class) Bold Living – 30 laps, 53:42.8810s
6. #34 John Morriss (Elite Class) Motorsport Leasing P/L – 30 laps, 53:46.2649s
7. #78 John Steffensen (Professional Class) Zagame Autosport – 30 laps, 54:28.1969s
8. #21 Shane Barwood (Elite Class) Melbourne Orthopaedic Group – 29 laps, 52:44.4223s
9. #87 David Greig (Class B) 29 laps, 52:54.4297s
10. #17 Marcel Zalloua (Elite Class) 360 Motorsport / Valmont – 29 laps, 53:13.0011s
11. #11 Brendan Cook (Class B) Cairns Steel Fabrication – 29 laps, 53:54.6541s
DNF #99 Ross McGregor (Elite Class) Southern Star Windows – 7 laps, 16:56.6603s
DNF #88 Phil Morriss (Elite Class) Morriss Racing Services