Max Twigg has shown he has lost no pace through his absence in Porsche Carrera Cup Australia presented by Hallmarc at Albert Park with an impressive cameo performance in the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge, though Tony Bates also has reason to smile.
Twigg’s pristine performance at Albert Park, his first solo round since the 2013 Gold Coast finale, included pole position and three race wins, adding to his already impressive record at the Melbourne circuit – 15 class race wins from 19 championship races, three in which he did not compete.
“I’ve lost one race here in five years so it was always the aim to get three race wins. It’s my favourite track and it’s also my home event so I’m very happy with the results this weekend,” said Twigg.
While Twigg was the Challenge class pace-setter, Bates came away from the Albert Park round with a positive result – second for the round and an extended points lead. What was a 24 point lead to Roger Lago entering the weekend turned into a 54 point advantage to Stephen Grove; a result of Lago struggling early at Albert Park and Bates’s strong showing at his home race.
For Bates, a third, second and fourth in class was enough to secure second for the round ahead of Shane Smollen in third.
Grove finished the round on equal points with Smollen but was lower in the order in the final race, handing Smollen the trophy place. Grove is now looking to repeat his 2014 effort: after a horrid season start, Grove and Scott McLaughlin claimed the outright round win at last year’s Phillip Island Pro-Am. Retaining his popular V8 co-driver, Grove is ready to again challenge for the class point lead at the coming round.
“Adelaide and Albert Park weren’t my two best rounds and I think I’m actually further ahead this year on points than I was last year, so now I’ve got to press on and see how we go. I’m really looking forward to Phillip Island racing with Scott McLaughlin; we won there last year and I’m confident for another strong result this time around,” said Grove.
Marc Cini finished fifth in class with fourth place in race one followed by a sixth placing in the Saturday and Sunday races. Lago recovered from his race one DNF to place sixth for the round from Ash Samadi, Adrian Mastronardo, James Bergmuller and Scott Taylor.
The TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge drivers will be well placed for an outright event win at the coming round at Phillip Island on May 22-24. The Pro-Am event will see the Challenge drivers pair with a non-regular professional driver and, vice-versa; the professional drivers will team with a non-regular Challenge driver, vastly increasing the winning odds for the regular Challenge drivers.
Round 2 points – TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge
1. Max Twigg – 180
2. Tony Bates – 144
3. Shane Smollen – 126
4. Stephen Grove – 126
5. Marc Cini – 106
6. Roger Lago – 102
7. Ash Samadi – 81
8. Adrian Mastronardo – 78
9. James Bergmuller – 78
10. Scott Taylor – 49