CALLUM HEDGE added his name to the ever-expanding winners list in the 2023 Paynter Dixon Carrera Cup Australia Championship, battling with Max Vidau before claiming Race 1 at Townsville today.
In an intense battle for the lead, the pair ran side-by-side on several occasions before a late race Safety Car ensured Hedge would be able to hold on and claim victory.
Vidau finished second and Alex Davison third in a wild affair that ended under Yellow after several incidents on lap 11 that would see the race finish behind the Safety Car.
Adrian Flack made the best start to claim the SP Tools Pro-Am class over Sam Shahin with Rodney Jane in third.
The race commenced with a flying start from Hedge, who burst away from the start to build a two second lead in the opening pair of laps.
Wall slipped past Vidau for second, before the TekworkX driver re-passed the former champion and set out in pursuit of the young Kiwi in front.
The pair closed rapidly and spent several laps duelling for the lead, a result that drew Wall, Alex Davison, David Russell and Bayley Hall into the fight as well.
That exploded on lap 11 when a furious fight for third place tipped over.
Alex Davison passed David Wall at turn three, before Wall and David Russell made contact on the entry to turn five – that incident spinning Russell into the fence.
Taking evasive action, Simon Fallon and Bayley Hall both made contact with the tyres on the outside of turn six, while Dale Wood was another caught up as he took evasive action on the inside of the corner, only to launch into the air and then spin to the back of the Pro field.
The stranded cars necessitated a recovery and a lengthy Safety Car period, with the race finishing under yellow with Hedge, Vidau and Davison crossing the line to complete the podium.
Wall crossed the line fourth – with the contact with Russell under investigation – with Fabian Coulthard fifth in his best result since returning to the championship aboard the BWT Porsche Centre Melbourne entry.
Jackson Walls avoided the carnage to finish sixth with Chris Pither, Christian Pancione, Dylan O’Keeffe and Angelo Mouzouris rounding out the top-10.
In SP Tools Pro-Am, Flack got the jump on Shahin at the start and was able to hold on throughout the race to claim the win.
Shahin, who had earlier grabbed his first TAG Heuer pole award in several seasons, finished second with Rodney Jane third.
Matt Belford was fourth and Daniel Stutterd was fifth.
Two further races complete the weekend tomorrow, including a 28-lap opener on Sunday morning that kicks off the Enduro Cup season.
All results from Race 1 remain provisional pending several post-race investigations underway.
“I got a good start and was kind of hoping the guys behind me would battle. They battled for the first few laps and I managed to get away, until I realised I didn’t have enough tyres.
“So I preserved my tyres until they caught me and I tried to back them up and make them race each other. They did a little bit but then the Safety car back and I was able to hold on.
“We’ve got a bit of time to find before tomorrow, see if we can make the tyre last a bit longer.
“It was a great battle! I used just within the limits of the rules with what I could do – move once, brake in a straight line and not run him out of road. Big credit to him, he was really fast and raced hard so looking forward to racing him tomorrow.”
“That was a hard race. I forget how hot you get at this place and you’re always working hard over the bumps and through the corners. I was glad to get the job done and bring it home.
“I got a good start, trying to find a slot at the start with all these cars was a big challenge and it’s hard to see. I managed to find a spot and kept head down and got to the end.”