McBride, Grove strike early at Albert Park
Nick McBride has bounced back from a horrid season opener in Adelaide to win race one at the 100th round of the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia championship, held at Albert Park, while Stephen Grove claimed the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge class victory after capitalising on a late error by an experienced rival.
McBride proved his superior pace in qualifying, taking the TAG Heuer Pole Position from his teammate Andre Heimgartner and young gun Dylan O’Keeffe.
The Melbourne driver then held the lead from the start of the opening race and managed to hold Heimgartner at bay for the entire 10-lap race, leading home a stunning one-two victory for the Sonic Motor Racing Porsches, something that the team narrowly missed out on in Adelaide.
“It’s been a great day, especially coming from Adelaide where I unfortunately spun out in race one; I was really sorry to the guys because it’s not every day that you’re running one-two in such a competitive championship. This is a great result for the team and one they deserve,” said McBride.
“There are four races so it’s such a long weekend that you just have to keep the intensity up. There’s a bit of strategy this weekend with tyres so there will still be a fair bit to play out this weekend. It should be good.”
Series leader Heimgartner finished second and extended his lead in the standings, while Cam McConville placed third, closely trailing the teammates in the front battlepack.
O’Keeffe continued his promising Thursday form in the opening race, placing fourth from Alex Davison, David Wall and Michael Almond.
James Abela and Lars Kern placed eighth and ninth while Jaxon Evans lamented an error on the opening lap, dropping from fifth to 10th after running onto the grass on the exit of turn 11.
Grove continued his winning streak in the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge at Albert Park. The Melbourne racer, who won all three races in Adelaide, led the class from the start before a small error allowed a hard charging Marc Cini to move into the class lead.
With one lap remaining, as Cini looked to be a certainty to claim his first ever Challenge class race victory, the experienced racer spun into the gravel trap entering the opening corner of the final lap, ending his race.
Grove capitalised, claiming the class win and taking 11th outright from Simon Ellingham, debutant Matt Palmer, returning driver Dean Cook and newcomer Graham Williams in 15th.
“It wasn’t easy out there. I made a small mistake into the last turn and Marc got up the inside and went through and from there I just tried to put pressure on him. Being a one-make series it’s pretty hard to pass in these cars so I chased and chased and, to my luck, he made a mistake,” said Grove.
“Marc has really stepped up and chased us since the start of the year. I gapped him at the start and then made a little mistake and there he was on my bumper again. I can’t wait for more battles throughout the weekend.”
Porsche Carrera Cup Australia will return on Friday for the second race of its 100th round before its third and fourth race on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, all of which will be broadcast live across ONE and Channel Ten.
Friday March 24, 2017
2:55pm Race 2 (25 minutes/10 laps)
Saturday March 25, 2017
12:45pm Race 3 (25 minutes/10 laps)
Sunday March 26, 2017
1:50pm Race 4 (25 minutes/10 laps)
Race 2 – 2:55pm, Friday March 24
Race 3 – 12:45pm, Saturday March 25
Race 4 – 1:50pm, Sunday March 26
Race 1 Results
1. #77 Nick McBride (Outright) Bob Jane T-Marts – 10 laps, 20:05.1396
2. #777 Andre Heimgartner (Outright) Bob Jane T-Marts/Money Now – 10 laps, 20:05.9937
3. #5 Cameron McConville (Outright) Repair Management Australia – 10 laps, 20:06.2963
4. #88 Dylan O’Keeffe (Outright) APB Group/President Limo Australia – 10 laps, 20:09.4546
5. #888 Alex Davison (Outright) POLAR/President Limo Australia – 10 laps, 20:09.7341
6. #38 David Wall (Outright) PAYCE/Wilson Security – 10 laps, 20:10.0978
7. #6 Michael Almond (Outright) Repair Management Australia – 10 laps, 20:12.5320
8. #54 James Abela (Outright) Horsley Park Gun Shop – 10 laps, 20:15.7185
9. #8 Lars Kern (Outright) Porsche Centre Melbourne – 10 laps, 20:16.2298
10. #7 Jaxon Evans (Outright) Hungry Jacks – 10 laps, 20:19.9905
11. #4 Stephen Grove (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Grove Group – 10 laps, 20:50.1914
12. #33 Simon Ellingham (Outright) Peak Marketing – 10 laps, 20:50.5267
13. #48 Matt Palmer (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) STR Truck Bodies – 10 laps, 21:29.0802
14. #22 Dean Cook (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) DNA Racing – 10 laps, 21:35.7983
15. #131 Graham Williams (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) DNA Racing – 10 laps, 22:10.4149
16. #9 Marc Cini (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Hallmarc – 9 laps, 18:44.6340