Nick McBride and Dylan Thomas have combined to win a dramatic Porsche Carrera Cup Australia Pro-Am race at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit today.
The Sonic Motor Racing duo had run in the top three for most of the one-hour race, however inherited the lead on the 30th of 36 laps after a penalty was handed to leader Geoff Emery in the race’s closing stages.
Emery was handed the #888 Porsche entry in second position following the compulsory pit stops, after regular driver Alex Davison climbed from sixth to second in the first eight laps of the race.
However the duo was penalised three minutes following a pit lane infringement during their pit stop – handing Thomas the race lead and sending them tumbling down the order.
Thomas and McBride ultimately won by just over ten seconds, with David Wall and Shane Smollen second and Dylan O’Keeffe and Adam Gowans third.
“It was a great race and a huge effort from Dylan to bring the car home at the end,” said McBride, who recorded his fourth career Carrera Cup race victory.
“It was an interesting start and we had to get past Stephen Grove at the Southern Loop on the opening lap – but my teammate Andre also got past. He did a great job to build a big lead but it was up to the Sonic Motor Racing guys in the stops, and Dylan drove a great race to bring it home.
“Overall it was a real team effort to get us over the line first.”
Thomas said his focus was bringing the car home in one piece to ensure a good points haul for his title-contending teammate.
“I’m always going to take a conservative approach because I’m not in the cars all the time,” he said.
“I’m not going to be going for glory, we’re here to go for it as a team but my job is to bring the car home safe, be consistent and traditionally I’ve been able to do that.”
Wall and Smollen charged to second having started from sixth place, while Dylan O’Keeffe and Adam Gowans raced in the top three for most of the race – having started from the front row.
A starring performance from Porsche Carrera Cup Australia newcomer Sam Shahin saw he and Daniel Gaunt grab fourth place on debut.
The HTFU team took an alternate approach to a majority of the field, electing to start Challenge ranked driver Shahin and save Gaunt for the race to the flag.
The gamble paid off superbly, with Gaunt emerging from the pit stops in 12th place and storming through the field in the race’s closing stages – delivering Shahin the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge class race win in the process.
Stephen Grove and Tim Slade started from pole position and, following the same strategy as Shahin and Gaunt, started Grove behind the wheel of the #4 car.
The former Carrera Challenge title winner handed his car over to Tim Slade at the start of the pit stop window, the BJR driver also working his way through the field throughout his stint.
The result ended a 10-straight streak of TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge class victories for Grove.
Leading the championship coming into the race, Andre Heimgartner led the first 23 laps of today’s race, ultimately finishing sixth with co-driver and Carrera Cup rookie Aaron Ireland.
James Abela and Anthony Gilbertson rebounded from their dramatic crash on Friday to finish seventh, one ahead of their McElrea Racing teammates Jaxon Evans and Tim Miles.
The two Porsche Centre Melbourne entries rounded out the top-10, Marc Cini and Dean Fiore leading home Dean Grant and Lee Holdsworth.
The penalised Davison/Emery car ultimately finished 14th, one position ahead of Cam McConville and Tony Bates who suffered the same fate.
Earlier in the day, a pair of 15-minute qualifying sessions determined the grid – one session each for the respective Pro and Am drivers.
Stephen Grove and Tim Slade grabbed the top spot – the first for both in Carrera Cup competition, edging out Dylan O’Keeffe and Adam Gowans by 0.03s on combined times.
The first six cars on the grid were covered by just 0.6 seconds, showcasing the competitive nature of the Pro-Am grid.
Heimgartner retains the lead of the outright standings by a single point from second placed finisher in today’s race, Wall. Race 1 winner McBride sits just 10.5 points behind the lead in third.
Grove retains his lead of the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge by 85.5 points from Marc Cini.
Tomorrow’s one-hour race will start with grid based on today’s finishing positions – the same drivers who finished today’s race set to start the second encounter.
The race will be broadcast live via the Shannons Nationals live stream.