Shane Smollen and Nick Percat have been crowned 2015 Pro-Am champions following another spectacular Porsche Carrera Cup Australia race at Phillip Island while Nick Foster and Dylan Thomas won race two on their way to the Professional Class round honours.
Smollen and last year’s Pro-Am champion Stephen Grove started race two from the front row, though both encountered issues early; Smollen jumped the start and incurred a five-second post-race time penalty while Grove spun in the opening laps, dropping to the rear.
While most teams opted for their Professional drivers to start race one, the combinations of Adrian Mastronardo/Tim Slade and Foster/Thomas opted for the opposite – Slade and Foster instead starting the Sunday race. The duo made the most of the approach, charging to first and second place ahead of the pit stop window.
By the time all driver changes were complete Mastronardo was leading from Thomas, though Percat was making his way through the field with Nick McBride in tow.
Thomas moved to first place and eventually claimed the race win after an exciting final lap battle with Percat, who had caught the leader on the closing lap.
Smollen and Percat finished second – the five seconds added to their race time not affecting their position – from Richard Muscat/Sam Walter, Mastronardo/Slade, McBride/Neale Muston and Grove/Scott McLaughlin in sixth.
The result handed Smollen and Percat the 2015 Pro-Am victory, which Smollen describes as an amazing feeling after experiencing heartache at the 2014 event.
“We were pretty frustrated last year when we had the race pace but failed to finish race one,” said Smollen. “It’s great to get the Pro-Am win this year and it certain helps our Challenge championship chances heading into the middle part of the season.
“It was great this weekend having the peace of mind having the McElrea Racing team behind me and having a great co-driver in Nick. It was therefore up to me and I’m pretty happy with my performance as well. This is exactly what we set out to do.”
Percat was pleased to return to Carrera Cup for the weekend and thrilled to leave Phillip Island as Pro-Am champion.
“Thanks to Shane for getting me back this year. The race was really enjoyable coming through the field. I knew in the back of my head that I had the five-second penalty but I wanted to push for the win. Credit goes to the Sonic team, who’s strategy worked also. Having the Professional driver come through the field and catch the Challenge driver and finishing so close shows you can use either strategy and still get a similar race time.”
Foster has been the pacesetter of the 2015 season but strong results have eluded the racer in the opening two rounds, meaning his race two win and ultimate Professional Class round victory was a welcome change of fortune.
“We put our best foot forward today. I couldn’t quite keep up with Slade but I knew Dylan would do a solid job; it’s a two driver race and we both did our part. Yesterday didn’t work out but today did, so the opposite strategy worked in the long run. It’s great for the team getting one-two on the Professional podium and Mastronardo third in the Challenge class.”
McBride and Muston placed second in the Professional Class – actually equalling Foster and Thomas in points but dropped to second for the round after finishing behind in the final race – from third placed Shae Davies and Geoff Emery, who finished fifth and eighth in the two Pro-Am races.
Grove and McLaughlin placed second in the Challenge class for the weekend from Slade and Mastronardo, who stood on the Carrera Cup podium for the first time.
Steven Richards retains the lead of the championship by 58.5 points from McBride, Baird and McConville, who didn’t make the start of race two with drive issues.
Smollen has jumped to the Challenge class point lead from Grove, Tony Bates, Roger Lago and Mastronardo in fifth.
Porsche Carrera Cup Australia returns to the track at Townsville on July 10-12,2015.
Race 2 results
1. N.Foster/D.Thomas (Bob Jane T-Marts) 57:41.1604s
2. S.Smollen/N.Percat (McGrath Estate Agents) 57:46.4890s
3. R.Muscat/S.Walter (Wilson Security/PAYCE/Genis) 57:54.2444s
4. A.Mastronadro/T.Slade (Veritas / Builtform) 57:54.8658s
5. N.McBride/N.Muston (Bob Jane T-Marts) 57:56.5485s
6. S.Grove/S.McLaughlin (Grove Group) 58:02.3224s
7. C.Baird/M.Twigg (Porsche Centre Melbourne) 58:03.6736s
8. S.Davies/G.Emery (Davbridge Constructions) 58:14.4074s
9. R.Lago/S.Owen (JBS Australia) 58:20.1691s
10. J.Bergmuller/A.Davison (MotorOne Car Care) 58:20.8398s
11. S.Richards/D.Grant (Laser Plumbing & Electrical) 58:22.8516s
12. M.Campbell/T.Miles (Phase 8) 58:23.8194s
13. S.Taylor/D.Canto (Scott Taylor Motorsport) 58:48.9511s
14. A.Samadi/D.Fiore (Apartment Hotel) 58:52.6285s
15. M.Cini/C.Mies (Hallmarc) 58:53.5822s
16. D.Russell/J.Koundouris (Finanze Ezi) 59:09.5219s
17. D.Padayachee/I.Padayachee (VIP Petfoods) 58:36.8104s
18. S.Hodge/R.Angus (Team BRM) 59:04.8768s
19. T.Bates/D.Gaunt (AFS/Top Cat) 58:15.8335s
DNF John Goodacre (OPS Gateway)
DNF Michael Almond (Copyworld Toshiba)
DNF Fraser Ross (Porsche Centre Brighton)