COOPER MURRAY has powered from pole position to win the opening race of the Porsche PAYCE Carrera Cup Australia championship, while Dean Cook scored his first Pro-Am race victory in three years.
Murray, driving his Phase8 / McElrea Racing entry, led from lights to flag in an eventful race to record his fourth career race win and open his 2020 account in style, also snaring honours in the Michelin Junior class and Mobil Professional category.
Having recorded his first outright pole position earlier in the day, Murray made the perfect start and built an early buffer over closest rivals David Wall and Cameron Hill.
He then conserved his tyres for the 15-lap duration to edge Wall by just over 1.5 seconds.
Hill finished third, holding out an aggressive Aaron Love who just missed the top three in just his fourth ever Carrera Cup race.
David Russell was fifth, Michael Almond made several strong moves to charge to sixth position while Dale Wood, Max Vidau, Nick McBride and Duvashen Padayachee completed a racy top-10.
Winner Murray said his plan was to grab an early leave before managing his pace from there.
“It was great. I got the start and was able to control it from there and save the tyres,” he explained.
“I wanted to get a gap at the start while you can, while everyone’s tyres are cold. It was good to get in front, control it and save the tyres.”
The winner survived a hairy moment at turn one, having to negotiate the stranded car of Greg Ward, who at the time was stuck on the racing line at the Senna Chicane.
“That was quite scary, coming to turn one and seeing a car in the middle of the road and making the split-second decision to know whether to go left or right. I saw the gap on the left and went for it and it worked out.”
Wall ran a comfortable second for the entire race, while Hill chased the leaders while at the same time fending off Love’s charging Sonic Porsche.
Russell, meanwhile, headed a freight-train of seven cars in a tight battle for the final spots in the top-10.
After dropping to 10th on the opening lap, Michael Almond was the biggest mover of the race as he charged to sixth in a storming drive on home turf.
Dean Cook scored his first Pro-Am class victory since Surfers Paradise 2017, in a dramatic race that saw several key contenders strike issues.
Having scored his first ever Pro-Am pole position earlier in the day, Tim Miles’ race lasted no longer than Turn 4 after contact from another car saw him turned around, making contact with the fence and ending his day.
The fast-starting Cook led the entire race under solid pressure from Max Twigg, while Marc Cini finished third on his return to the championship.
“It was an interesting few laps! I got a good launch and jumped Timmy Miles and that was it – I just pushed forward from there,” Cook explained.
“I was fortunate enough to put my head down, look forward and put some good lap times down and pull away from the other guys which is what my objective was.”
Cook’s only issue was the lack of any communication with pit lane.
“After the start there was no radio – the boys could hear me but I couldn’t hear them.. by the end I was looking for that flag at the end – I was ready for a drink!”
Earlier in qualifying, Cooper Murray scored his first outright pole position in a thrilling 20-minute session held on a cool Friday morning.
The Phase 8 / McElrea Racing driver charged to the top on his second new-tyre run, his 1m22.2033 eclipsing former champion Jaxon Evans’ Adelaide street circuit qualifying record in the process.
Murray scored a Mobil Pro class pole in Townsville last year, however was eclipsed to the outright top spot by Pro-Am runner Roger Lago.
David Wall stormed to second place late in the session while a hugely impressive Aaron Love qualified third and fellow Michelin Junior Cameron Hill fourth.
Meanwhile, Tim Miles made it a double pole effort for McElrea Racing as he stormed to his maiden Pro-Am class pole position. The Kiwi, who had twice qualified second in his Pro-Am career, edged out Dean Cook for the class pole position by 0.18 seconds, former champions Max Twigg and Stephen Grove third and fourth, respectively.
The Porsche PAYCE Carrera Cup Australia returns for the second of three races this weekend, to be contested over 10-laps at 1:30pm local time.