Shae Davies has claimed a surprise Bathurst round victory following a spectacular final Porsche Carrera Cup Australia race on Mount Panorama, while Shane Smollen continued his perfect weekend in the Elite Class.
Championship leader Warren Luff led the entire Race 3 up until a late safety car appearance, brought to the circuit to recover the Porsche of Michael Patrizi, which made heavy contact with the concrete barrier exiting the Dipper.
When the race resumed there was one lap remaining in the race, though the action was far from over.
On the run into Griffins Bend, Nick Foster made a move on the inside of David Russell for second place. As a result, Foster made contact with the race leader Luff with the accident also taking out Russell and Steven Richards. Russell continued in the race, albeit at the rear of the field, while the race was over for Foster – who was penalised 25 championship points with an extra 100 points suspended until season’s end – and the two series leaders, Luff and Richards.
Fifth-placed Davies inherited the lead and continued at the front until the chequered flag, which ultimately handed the Queenslander the Bathurst round victory.
“It’s great to have a Bathurst round win on the CV. It’s upsetting for the team with what happened to Luff, though he managed to gain a few points and extend his lead in the championship,” said Davies.
“I was in the right place at the right time. I took it easy in the early part of the weekend and we had great pace at the end of the weekend, so I’m very happy.”
South Australian Michael Almond was close behind Davies on the restart incident and finished the race second – his best ever race result in Carrera Cup – which handed him second for the Bathurst round. Luff finished third in the round points despite his Race 3 DNF.
Like Davies, Almond was equally as elated, and surprised, with his maiden Bathurst podium.
“Being on the podium at Bathurst is something you dream about. I’m very appreciative of my team; they gave me a car that was extremely stable. I just kept out of trouble, kept my eyes forward and it paid off,” said Almond, who was pleased to avoid and final lap mishap.
“Going into Griffins Bend I braked early to give myself a bit of room, and then I saw Foster’s car facing the wrong way, so I backed off and turned in early and avoided the carnage. It’s not what you want to see but we kept it straight and are very happy with the result.”
Craig Baird capitalised on Richards and Luff’s misfortune by placing third from Sam Power, Nick McBride and Duvashen Padayachee in sixth.
Smollen was the best Elite Class performer with an impressive seventh place from Stephen Grove, Brenton Ramsay and 10th placed Tony Bates.
Smollen was pleased with three commanding Elite Class victories for the Bathurst round and is looking forward to finishing the season on a high.
“We were at the opposite end of the spectrum to a lot of the drivers this weekend, so I guess that’s just how things go. We were pretty focussed entering the round, the team did a great job preparing the car and we really had a mistake-free weekend,” said Smollen.
“It sets us up well to finish the year similar to last year; we had a clean sweep at the Gold Coast and we’ll certainly have that goal in mind again.”
Grove placed second for the round in points while, for Ramsay, two fourths and a third place in the Elite Class secured the South Australian his maiden Elite Class podium.
Tony Walls finished 11th for Race 3 from Renee Gracie, James Bergmuller, Scott Taylor, Marc Cini, Maurie Pickering, Adrian Mastronardo and 18th placed Russell.
Only 31 points now separate the top three drivers, with Luff (831 points) holding a 21 point advantage from Richards (810 points) and Baird (800 points) a further 10 points adrift.
Grove (930 points) holds a convincing 135 point lead in the Elite Class standings from Smollen (795 points) and Bates (761 points).
Porsche Carrera Cup Australia will return to racing in two weeks on the streets of Surfers Paradise for the Gold Coast 600 on October 24-26, 2014.