James Bergmuller is a Bathurst winner, while Tony Bates will aim to seal the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia presented by Hytera championship’s TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge on the streets of the Gold Coast in two weeks’ time.
A trio of second-placed finishes this weekend ensured the consistent Bergmuller grabbed the victory at Mount Panorama as several of his key title rivals enjoyed mixed results at the challenging 6.2km circuit.
Bergmuller now sits second in the Challenge standings ahead of the final round.
“That’s the first time I’ve ever come here – and I’ve been here four years in a row – and the car has not been scratched or had a DNF, so I’m wrapped,” said Bergmuller.
“That was the plan all weekend, just to pound around all weekend as long as I could and keep out of trouble. Coming off the back of Sandown with confidence really helped and I was here for the Bathurst 12 Hour at the start of the year which also helped a lot, just getting miles under my belt.
“I didn’t qualify as quickly as I wanted to but as each race went on and I got laps under my belt I got quicker and quicker and the boys did a great job this weekend and it all fell into place.”
Bergmuller says he’s not focussing on the impending championship fight on the Gold Coast – rather heading to the Queensland event seeking a clean final round of the year.
“I’m 80 or 90 points behind Bates. I’m not thinking about it too much, to be honest, I just need to finish three races and see where we end up,” he explained.
“Two years ago I was second coming into Bathurst and had two DNFs and left in fourth for the year so it’s all about finishing.”
TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge leader Bates completed a superb recovery effort at Bathurst, after his championship hopes had earlier been dented after a race one incident with another car.
Spun into the tyres at turn two late in the race, Bates only finished sixth in the first race – with Shane Smollen taking maximum advantage by winning the race.
Bates, however, stormed back into contention in the second race and took a remarkable victory, backing it up with a second win in the final race to score second overall on The Mountain.
“It’s fantastic! It’s amazing the difference a few years can make. I was pretty dejected after what happened on Friday and you have to be able to pick yourself up and get back on the horse. I’ve done that a few times in my career and there’s nothing better so we’ll sail onto the Gold Coast and the final round,” Bates said.
“We’ve all had our bad luck, me and Shane, and it’s been the survival of the fittest this year. I’m just wrapped that we’ve shown that when we can get in front we can race and sail on.”
Scott Taylor finished third overall at Mount Panorama, marking his first visit to the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge podium this year.
Consistent finishes of fourth, third and fifth across the three races allowed the Queensland-based driver to grab the final spot on the dais.
The Challenge field at Bathurst featured plenty of highlights, including the 250th Porsche Carrera Cup Australia race start from the series’ most experienced driver, Marc Cini, who finished fourth in class in his milestone event.
Much like the outright Porsche Carrera Cup Australia championship battle, the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge will be decided at the Gold Coast 600 event on the Gold Coast in two weeks’ time.
Bates’ leads Bergmuller by 98 points heading into the final three races of the season, with 180 up for grabs.
Defending champion Shane Smollen sits a further 1.5 points further back in third place, while former class champion Stephen Grove remains in mathematical contention, 159.5 points from the lead.