Nick Foster and Shane Smollen have departed the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia season finale as the newly crowned 2015 champions, while Matt Campbell and Tony Bates claimed round honours in Surfers Paradise.
Foster entered the final round on top of the standings, and three third place race finishes in Gold Coast, behind round winner Campbell and David Russell in each, was enough to become the 2015 title winner – the championship’s third outright champion in as many seasons.
Foster’s 2015 journey began with a horror start to the championship after failing to score a single point in the opening four races of the season. Foster’s campaign turned around at Phillip Island, in which time the 23-year-old claimed eight race wins and finished in the top three in 14 of the remaining 15 races of the season.
Foster took the points lead at Sandown, maintained the same gap at Bathurst and completed the fairy tale ending to the championship chase in the Gold Coast, transforming a 298 point deficit after round two into a 64 point lead over second placed David Russell at the end of the season.
“I’m absolutely speechless. I have to thank everybody – Mick, Maria, Rod, Mike, the teams and my family,” said Foster after securing the title.
“This means so much to me, I can’t describe it. It is incredible. This is by far the highlight of my career; it’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced.
“Who would have thought that we’d come back from nearly 300 points behind to secure the championship with a race to go. As I said at the start of the year, this team is incredible, the car was incredible and has continued to be all year. I let them down in the first couple of races of the year and it’s nice to reward them for all the effort that they put in and get the job done.”
Foster wasn’t the only driver to be crowned on Sunday; Smollen claimed the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge title after a strong, consistent season in the semi-professional class.
“I’m delighted. It was an important goal to win the Challenge championship. I’ve had a fast, but much more consistent year, than the last. I haven’t had a DNF all season and Stephen Grove won it last year with the same qualities,” said Smollen.
“Over the past few seasons we’ve finished fourth, third and second in the Challenge standings so it would have been frustrating to not have gone that extra step. We really thought it could be our year this year but also knew we couldn’t have a single DNF. To wrap it up with one race to go is just fantastic.”
Campbell was the outright round victor with a Gold Coast clean sweep; the 20-year-old taking his second straight round win, fourth straight race win and eighth straight top two race result.
“To get that round win, and especially with a clean sweep, is a great way to end the season. It was great getting the round win after not racing at the Gold Coast before. I can’t thank McElrea Racing enough for everything they’ve done for me and hopefully we can come back and do it all again next year,” said Campbell.
Russell placed second in each of the Gold Coast races, promoting him to second in the 2015 standings, while Campbell’s impressive run home in 2015 – four straight race wins – pushed the 20-year-old Queenslander to third in the outright standings.
Bates was the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge round winner, placing second in Saturday’s opening race before claiming victory in both Sunday races.
“I won the last three rounds and I won more races and rounds for the year than anyone else, but also had a few DNFs which certainly didn’t help the championship. After our Sydney Motorsport Park incident my aim was to win the last three rounds, which I did,” said Bates.
Bates was joined on the round podium by second placed James Bergmuller and new class champion Smollen.
With the 2015 season now finalised, the 2016 Porsche Carrera Cup Australia season will get underway in five months at the Clipsal 500, Adelaide.