DEFENDING Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia presented by Pirelli Champion Ryan Simpson looks to have a fight on his hands this weekend at Sandown Raceway, after young-gun rival Jaxon Evans narrowly bested him in practice today.
John Goodacre topped the Elite class runners across the two sessions today while Michael Tsigeridis was the fastest in Class B.
Evans’ practice two time of 1m13.30s was just 0.04s faster than Simpson’s practice one benchmark, setting the scene for a thrilling battle at the front of the field this weekend.
“It was a good start to the weekend which is great because there’s plenty to play for,” said Evans, who made his Porsche debut at Sandown twelve months ago.
“This place is pretty cool – I had my first Porsche race here last year. It’s fast and there’s some big stops and there’s always some good close racing.
“I’m hoping to mix it up with Hamish (Hardeman), Ryan Simpson and the fastest Elite guys. It’s a big challenge but I’m looking forward to it.”
Simpson’s Sonic Motor Racing teammate Hamish Hardeman shaded the two fastest drivers today, finishing just 0.1 seconds behind, while Elite class frontrunners Goodacre, David Ryan and Tim Miles were all well within striking distance of the leaders.
A 17-strong Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge field practiced today across two, 20-minute sessions ahead of a busy Saturday schedule that includes a further practice, qualifying and the first 12-lap race of the season.
A learning day for Jamie Blaikie Porsche Scholarship winner Jake Klarich saw him focus on getting experience behind the wheel of his McElrea Racing-prepared Porsche and at the challenging 3.2km Sandown venue.
Despite selected issues costing the karting graduate track time, Klarich was looking forward to the chance for more laps tomorrow.
“It’s been a massive learning day,” Klarich said.
“I haven’t had as much track time as I would have liked and between traffic and red flags I’ve probably only had three flying laps.
“I’m still trying to learn the track and build confidence but the car is capable of running at the front so tomorrow will be good.”
A close battle in the Elite class is expected again this year, with today’s pacesetter John Goodacre, David Ryan, Tim Miles, Anthony Gilbertson and Sam Shahin all closely bunched after today’s two sessions.
Despite setting the fastest Elite class time of the day in practice one, Goodacre found the gravel in the second session when he was one of several drivers to be caught out by a hefty tailwind on the blustery Melbourne day.
The Adelaide driver is set to start his 100th race on Sunday – the first driver in the history of the category to reach the milestone.
Saturday will see a third practice session held at 9:35am prior to qualifying (12:00) and the first race of the weekend at 3:15pm.
Saturday April 02, 2016
9:35am Practice 3 (20 minutes)
12:00pm Qualifying (20 minutes)
3:15pm Race 1 (12 laps)
Sunday April 02, 2016
10:05am Race 2 (12 laps)
1:40pm Race 3 (12 laps)