NEWLY-crowned Porsche Paynter Dixon Carrera Cup Australia Champion Callum Hedge has revealed just how close he came to losing the championship in Sunday’s final race at the VAILO Adelaide 500.
A dramatic start to the deciding race of the year saw Hedge and the championship leader at the time, Jackson Walls, leap across the famous Senna chicane as they battled, nearly side-by-side.
On landing, Walls’ car tore a tyre from the left-rear wheel rim on his Objective Racing Porsche, causing him to spin across the circuit and out of the race, ending his title hopes.
Hedge’s car landed heavily however was able to continue, the young New Zealander ceding several spots before finishing seventh and ultimately taking the championship in the final race of the year.
However, Hedge has since confirmed that his cautious Sunday drive was not just down to being conservative – his Earl Bamber Motorsport / Team Porsche New Zealand entry having suffered quite serious damage during the opening corner aerobatics.
“I took one look at the wishbone after Alex (Wilkinson, #1 Mechanic on Hedge’s car) took the left rear off and I’m surprised it didn’t snap,” Hedge explained.
“There was a lot of damage and the car wasn’t feeling good so I made sure I got it home safely.
“Someone was looking down on me today and I was just grateful to make it to the end.”
Hedge was formally crowned champion at the annual Porsche Paynter Dixon Carrera Cup Australia awards night held Sunday evening in Adelaide.
Hedge’s remarkable season saw him crowned champion and Equity-One Professional Class winner, TAG Heuer Pro Pole Award winner, Enduro Cup winner and the Michelin Junior champion for 2023.
“I want to thank Porsche for an amazing championship, I’ve really enjoyed my last two years here. They’ve been two of the best years of my life,” he said.
“Thank you to my team for all the hard work and a thanks to Jackson. We’ve come a long way since the Grand Prix last year where we smacked into each other at every opportunity we could! It’s pretty cool to be racing you and it’s been awesome to be racing you all year.
“I do need to make special mention to Bruce (Jenkins), his help since Townsville last year has been a turning point where I stopped crashing the car, stopped wrecking gear and gained a bit of maturity. I can’t thank all the people that made this possible enough.”
Jackson Walls was celebrated as runner-up, while Dale Wood claimed third overall having jumped Dylan O’Keeffe for a spot on the podium in the final race of the year.
Earl Bamber Motorsport’s remarkable year was added by teammate Adrian Flack claiming the SP Tools Pro-Am class and the Enduro Cup as well.
Flack’s title also came down to the final race of the year, though circumstances were only slightly less dramatic than his younger teammate.
His remarkable season included five round wins – the third most of all time in the Pro-Am class – and five pole positions.
“What a year! I guess when we finished the race I would have taken it in a bit more but I was in shock to be honest,” Flack said.
“It’s been a long hard year. I remember talking to Sam (Shahin) last year talking about my plans for this year and how badly I wanted it and was preparing for it already. I think he went away and did the same because he didn’t make it easy for me!
“The competition this year, especially from Sam and Dean, has just been brutal – you couldn’t let your guard down for 10 seconds.
“Lana (Flack’s eldest go-kart racing daughter) got second in her championship and basically told me ‘Show me how to win one, Dad!’, and that was my motivation this weekend! She’s going to have to listen to me now!”
Dean Cook was awarded second in SP Tools Pro-Am, while Sam Shahin claimed third.
Earl Bamber Motorsport won the team’s award – and the use of a brand-new Porsche Cayenne for the 2023 season – while Hedge’s mechanic Alex Wilkinson was awarded SP Tools Mechanic of the year.
The annual Carrera Cup awards were held in front of nearly 200 guests in Adelaide and included Porsche Cars Australia CEO and Managing Director, Daniel Schmollinger, two-time Le Mans 24 Hour winner Earl Bamber and current Porsche Penske Motorsport factory pilot Matt Campbell among the guest list.