Wall and Grove claim Sepang round honours
David Wall and Stephen Grove have powered to debut Porsche Carrera Cup Australia international success in the fifth round of the 2017 season at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.
Wall raced to a second successive victory in the final race of round five which, coupled with dramas for nearest championship rivals Alex Davison and Andre Heimgartner, has delivered the Sydneysider a commanding championship lead with three rounds remaining.
Wall won Carrera Cup Australia’s first international round ahead of Dylan O’Keeffe and Davison, while Grove’s TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge round win came over Tim Miles and Dean Cook.
Wall now enjoys a 118-point lead over Heimgartner with three rounds remaining in the championship. Davison sits second, just 24 points ahead of Heimgartner.
Wall said his second career Carrera Cup round victory was an emotional one.
“I haven’t been to Sepang since 2007 and the last time I was here I was with my dad so it was a little bit emotional coming here,” said Wall.
“I’m absolutely speechless. I would never have expected to top every session and win every race. The competition here is unbelievable so the team has done a mega job to allow us to be at the front all weekend. Knowing the track definitely helped but having the car well balanced was the biggest benefit.”
Wall powered to a second successive lights-to-flag victory in race two, while once again the action was behind the leader with furious battles for the minor positions in the top 10 throughout the 13 laps.
A remarkable opening lap of side-by-side action saw Wall gap the field, while Davison, Heimgartner and Jaxon Evans battled for second place.
Evans spun at turn two early in the race, while Davison and Heimgartner battled hard for second place for a majority of the first half – swapping positions twice before contact between the pair saw Davison spin and Heimgartner penalised 25 seconds (post-race) for his role in the incident.
Both drivers suffered for the accident: Davison finishing fifth and Heimgartner eighth following his penalty.
Dylan O’Keeffe was the main beneficiary of their dramas, scoring his best-ever Carrera Cup result with second. O’Keeffe’s second overall was also his best ever Carrera Cup Australia round result and lifts the young Victorian to fourth in the championship standings.
Lars Kern finished third – also his best-ever Carrera Cup race result – after spending much of his race battling with Nick McBride, who ultimately finished fourth.
With Davison fifth, Michael Almond, Evans, Heimgartner, Cameron McConville and TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge winner Grove completing the top 10.
Grove’s perfect weekend extended his already significant lead in the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge standings ahead of the final three rounds.
He again narrowly edged out Tim Miles for victory in race two, while Dean Cook grabbed the final spot on the podium after a close fight with Marc Cini.
“It’s great to come here and get two race wins after Darwin,” said Grove.
“This event is just awesome. This is like Sydney last year, we go and have two good races and heaps of track time and now we’ve got the combined race to go. It’s a new track for us and the facility is unbelievable, the best I’ve ever experienced.”
The next round of the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia championship will see the series return to the classic Sandown Raceway in Melbourne, alongside the Supercars Sandown 500.
The round will feature the first round of the all-new Endurance Cup championship; the final three rounds of the 2017 championship to feature one longer distance race alongside two sprints in a new innovation for the series this year.
The Sandown 500 will be held on 15-17 September this year.