PORSCHE Paynter Dixon Carrera Cup Australia championship leader Harri Jones has continued his storming start to the 2022 season, leading from lights to flag in the opening race of Round 3 at Hidden Valley Raceway.
Starting second, the McElrea Racing driver made a superior start from the outside of the front row and beat polesitter Dale Wood into turn one – and from there was never headed.
Liam Talbot won the MORRIS Pro-Am class, leading home Sam Shahin and Dean Cook in another competitive battle.
Jones’ pathway to victory came once he cleared Wood on the run into turn one, powering away to a one-second lead that he would ultimately never lose.
Wood’s second represented his best finish of the season, while a late pass secured David Wall third position in his 199th Carrera Cup Australia race.
Wall had trailed Dylan O’Keeffe for much of the race however was able to slip past at turn one with just a few laps remining.
O’Keeffe was fourth with Christian Pancione and Jackson Walls trading positions several times in their battle for a top five spot – the former ultimately coming out on top.
Max Vidau gained three spots to finish seventh, one position in front of his teammate Luke Youlden, with Bayley Hall and Callum Hedge completing the top-10.
Several Pro class contenders has issues in the hot Hidden Valley conditions.
Michael Almond spun at turn one while attempting a pass on Brad Shiels, while Nick McBride came off the road at turn five – having earlier copped a five second penalty for rolling at the start.
The MORRIS Pro-Am battle was similar to the outright fight, Talbot beating class polesitter Adrian Flack into turn one and then leading the duration of the race from there.
Flack would drop down the field later in the race following a spin at turn 12, which elevated Sam Shahin to second in class.
Dean Cook finished third, with Tim Miles, Rodney Jane and Geoff Emery next.
Two further races complete the third round of the championship tomorrow at Hidden Valley Raceway.
Jones’ provisionally leads the Pro championship by 85 points heading into Sunday’s action, with David Wall now second and Max Vidau third.
Earlier in qualifying, Dale Wood scored his first TAG Heuer Pole Award since March 2020 has he charged his Timken Racing / EBM entry to the top spot.
He edged out championship leader Harri Jones by 0.03 seconds in the closest ever Darwin qualifying session.
Round 2 polesitter Dylan O’Keeffe was third and David Wall fourth.
Personal best efforts from Jackson Walls and Bayley Hall saw them fifth and sixth, respectively, while Christian Pancione, Nick McBride, Simon Fallon – another personal best effort – and Max Vidau completed the 10.
The top 17 cars were covered by 0.5 seconds in qualifying, with the top 26 runner split by just 1.4s in one of the most competitive Carrera Cup qualifying sessions ever.
Adrian Flack stole the MORRIS Pro-Am pole award in the dying stages of the session, bumping Liam Talbot to second by 0.038s.
Geoff Emery was 0.1s further back with Dean Cook fourth and Matt Belford fifth.
Just 0.8 seconds covered the top nine runners in Pro-Am.
Harri Jones – Pro Class Winner
“That was another awesome race. I’m loving it up here in the heat. We got a pretty good start – I actually almost stalled it but I was able to recover and from there I just put my head down, tried to minimise mistakes and pull a little gap.
“The car felt amazing, massive credit to the team and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
“Our car behaved really well all race, the balance was very consistent and gave me the confidence to push really hard the whole time. Basically now we know the car is good and we can look forward to tomorrow and hope for the same again.”
Liam Talbot – Morris Pro-Am class winner
“It was good, I got a mega start! Going around the outside of turn one you never really know what is going to happen, but I had a dream run.
“I had (Adrian) Flack all over me but I was able to drive away. We were doing some good lap times and I was having a heap of fun out there – how can you not!
“It’s so hot, but that’s what you train for. You relish these moments at a track, in a Porsche, to be fast and win the race – how good!”