Shane Smollen and Nick Percat have taken opening victory in the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia Pro-Am at Phillip Island as two V8 counterparts displayed a spectacular battle at the head of the field.
After Smollen and Percat snared the TAG Heuer Pole Position Award, Percat started the race alongside Dylan Thomas in second ahead of Cam McConville, Nick McBride and Scott McLaughlin.
Percat led from the start while McLaughlin soon joined him at the front – the duo exchanging the lead on multiple occasions in a spectacular battle before pitting towards the end of the pitstop window.
Smollen replaced Percat in the #56 Porsche and quickly built a lengthy 11-second lead after Grove had an issue disengaging his pit speed limiter exiting the pits. Smollen made the most of the gap, ultimately taking race one victory from Grove and the pairing of McConville/John Goodacre and McBride/Neale Muston in fourth.
It was the second victory for the Percat/Smollen pairing, who won the second Pro-Am race at the same venue last year.
“Nick did a great job in the first stint and that really set me up,” said Smollen. “We got out of the pits well thanks to a great team effort and really weren’t threatened from there. It was my first outright win while being in the car at the finish so it was good to do it without too much stress.”
Percat was equally as thrilled after an ‘enjoyable’ battle with his V8 counterpart, McLaughlin.
“That was an awesome result, especially for Shane and the McElrea team,” said Percat. “The car was faultless in my stint. I had a massive battle with McLaughlin which was the most fun I’ve had since the Porsche race here last year, where we also had a great battle. We were waving at each other and I had a massive smile on my face. You can push these Porsches so hard and they reward you, making the racing super enjoyable. That’s why we all line up to come and race at the Pro-Am.”
Grove was pleased with today’s second place result, which was one position better than the pair’s race one finish in last year’s Pro-Am en route to the outright event win.
“Scott did a really good job; he and Nick Percat continued what they did last year,” said Grove. “I just couldn’t get the pit lane speed limiter off so that cost us some time. It’s really great to see Percat and Scott racing together, and then for me and Shane to race each other. Shane and I will be off the front row tomorrow, which will be great, and then watch the boys bring it home.”
McLaughlin was also thrilled with his spectacular battle with Percat.
“That is what racing is all about. I was battling with my mate out there, which got pretty loose there for a while, but it was really good fun. I’m very lucky that Volvo has allowed me to do this and happy to be up the front with Stephen. It was cool for me as a confidence booster to catch and pass Nick and then to pass him again; a guy who I race day in and day out. It was good fun.”
Nick Foster, paired with Thomas, placed sixth from points leader Steven Richards/Dean Grant, Roger Lago/Steve Owen, Craig Baird/Max Twigg and Adrian Mastronardo/Tim Slade in 10th.
The drivers who did not start race one will be required to start race two, placing Smollen and Grove on the front row of the grid for final race of the weekend.
The second Pro-Am race will be held at 10:45am on Sunday, which can be viewed online from www.motorsportstv.com.au.
Sunday May 24
09:30am Warm up (10 mins)
10:35am Race 2 (36 laps)
Race 1 results
1. S.Smollen/N.Percat (McGrath Estate Agents) 57:51.8006s
2. S.Grove/S.McLaughlin (Grove Group) 57:54.6201s
3. C.McConville/J.Goodacre (OPS Gateway) 57:55.8830s
4. N.McBride/N.Muston (Bob Jane T-Marts) 58:04.2103s
5. S.Davies/G.Emery (Davbridge Constructions) 58:05.2051s
6. N.Foster/D.Thomas (Bob Jane T-Marts) 58:09.5046s
7. S.Richards/D.Grant (Laser Plumbing & Electrical) 58:10.6244s
8. R.Lago/S.Owen (JBS Australia) 58:10.8808s
9. C.Baird/M.Twigg (Porsche Centre Melbourne) 58:20.1614s
10. A.Mastronadro/T.Slade (Veritas / Builtform) 58:24.5664s
11. M.Almond/J.Karytinos (Copyworld Toshiba) 58:29.7149s
12. R.Muscat/S.Walter (Wilson Security/PAYCE/Genis) 58:30.3416s
13. A.Samadi/D.Fiore (Apartment Hotel) 58:39.9708s
14. T.Bates/D.Gaunt (AFS/Top Cat) 59:00.0794s
15. F.Ross/D.Ryan (Porsche Centre Brighton) 57:52.1113s
16. D.Padayachee/I.Padayach (VIP Petfoods) 58:11.2280s
17. S.Hodge/R.Angus (Team BRM) 58:47.2176s
18. M.Cini/C.Mies (Hallmarc) 58:28.7132s
DNF S.Taylor/D.Canto (Scott Taylor Motorsport) 54:40.3717s
DNF M.Campbell/T.Miles (Phase 8) 49:29.2384s
DNF J.Koundouris/D.Russell (Finanze Ezi) 12:36.3319s
DNF J.Bergmuller/A.Davison (MotorOne Car Care)