Porsche Prize heats up

When the Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge Australia met at Winton, Cooper Murray only possessed a slight lead in the outright standings.

Murray went into the penultimate round holding a five point lead over title rival Simon Fallon.

All eyes were on the Murray and Fallon ahead of the first race and it was Fallon who drew first blood, taking out the 50-minute endurance race.

Fallon’s victory saw him move into the outright standings lead for the first time this season.

But Fallon’s time at the top was only short-lived, despite doing very little wrong in the second and third races, Murray bounced back in style to claim his first victory in three races, before claiming the final race of the weekend and the overall round win.

Murray’s victory saw him regain the lead at the top of the outright standings, with 11 points now separating the top two. Meanwhile, Jimmy Vernon enjoyed his refreshed start to his season with a podium finish.

“Sunday couldn’t have gone any better, having come away with two race wins and regain the championship lead,” Murray said.

“It helped getting my starts right. We went four-wheel-driving on Saturday night in the ute to practise my starts and it worked.

“I had two great starts on Sunday, which got us two wins.

“The goal now is to beat Simon at the final round and get as many points as possible to hopefully come away with the title.”

The Pro-Am Class saw a new name take the class round win, with Marcel Zalloua marking his competition return in style with two race wins and a second in the final race enough to seal the class.

Joined on the Winton podium by Michael Hovey and third placed Michael Loccisano, Zalloua’s win adds another twist to the class’ unique season thus far, with five different drivers all claiming one round.

“It was a challenging weekend but it was good to stay out of trouble and stay on the pace,” Zalloua said.

“I can’t thank the team enough, they were immense all weekend and really kept my confidence up.

“The season took a turn for the better at Phillip Island and while this weekend was trying – I was a little but slower than the faster Pro-Am drivers – we played a smarter game.”

Daniel Stutterd had a horrible start to the weekend, with the class leader joining five other drivers on the sidelines before the end of the first race, the biggest causality list of the season.

However, Stutterd was able to recover, as a sixth and win in the final race gave him a gap of 82 points and some breathing space over title rival Brett Boulton.

Young gun Christian Pancione’s stronghold of the Class B came to an abrupt end at Winton when he was one of the six drivers to retire during the first race.

Despite flexing his muscles on Sunday and picking up two-class victories, it wasn’t enough as the class leader finished the round outside the podium for the first time this season.

Class honours went to a consistent Sergio Pires who enjoyed his first podium finish of the year, while Andrew Goldie and Phil Morriss rounded out the podium.

Pancione still holds an unattainable 161-point lead in Class B from Morriss and David Greig ahead of the final round later this month.

The Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge Australia’s season finale will take place at Sydney Motorsport Park on 21-22 September.