Harri Jones has withstood maximum pressure to claim his maiden Porsche Paynter Dixon Carrera Cup Australia race win at Mount Panorama.
Starting from pole position, the Michelin Junior driver led from start to finish, heading home the sport’s best drivers to take victory in the Mobil Pro Class by only 1.5sec from Cooper Murray, while Cameron Hill consolidated his championship lead in third.
For Jones, the result fulfils the promise he has shown so far in his young career – including victory in the 2019 Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge Australia Championship.
“I’m speechless right now, that was one of the best races of my life, the team gave me an awesome car,” Jones said.
“We started from pole, the best place to start from, but Dave had a fast car the whole race, and Cooper, my McElrea teammate was also on it. So every lap it was reset, do it again and just go through the process. Car felt awesome, my fitness, mental condition was all on point, so it was so much fun, I can’t wait for tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, in Morris Finance Pro-Am, Sam Shahin kept his unbeaten winning streak from this week alive, taking honours from Geoff Emery and Ben Stack.
“Well it wouldn’t be Bathurst if it wasn’t an eventful first lap. The start was the usual elbows out into Turn 2 and it went all the way to Skyline, you could see something was going to have to give going into the Chase and all I saw was a massive cloud of dust and a lot of guys took to the outside,” Shahin said.
“So the glutes were clenched really tight at that point, I had to make the choice to make the left hand or go straight through the gravel trap, I went through the dust and we came out the other side.
“Fortunately not a lot of cars got damaged. After the restart I had a great battle with Geoff, he is a good, honest racer and he was right on my bumper for most of the race. I’m absolutely thrilled with the win and that we survived to fight another day.”
From pole position, Jones led into the first corner, immediately coming under pressure from David Wall.
However, the race soon came under safety car control after Max Vidau and Aaron Love ran side by side through the fast kink into The Chase, with Vidau running wide through the infield before getting stuck in the sand trap.
Numerous cars went off track in the ensuing dust storm, including Dale Wood, Dean Cook, and Tim Miles.
The race restarted on lap four of 15, with a train of cars immediately forming behind the leader Jones.
The race was a classic pressure-cooker Carrera Cup affair for the duration as a the group battled for position – through none could unseat Jones out in front.
Jones led Wall and Murray to the closing laps before a tyre issue saw Wall pit at the commencement of the final lap – with the resulting 14th place finish significantly impacting his championship chances.
Marc Cini spun on lap eight at The Chase, before later becoming stuck in the sand at the same portion of the track on the penultimate circuit, with local yellow flags allowing the race to go green until the finish.
Love was classified fourth at the chequered flag, ahead of fellow young gun Matthew Payne, then David Russell, Craig Lowndes, Jayden Walls, Callum Hedge, with Christian Pancione rounding out the top ten.
Notably, Payne, Walls, and Hedge are all making their Bathurst Carrera Cup debuts, and all featured in the lead pack throughout the race.
The fifth round of the Porsche Paynter Dixon Carrera Cup Australia concludes tomorrow at Mount Panorama as the curtain-raiser to the Bathurst 1000.
The race is scheduled to start at 10:50am AEDT, and will once again be broadcast live and free on 7, plus via Fox Sports and Kayo.