Jordan Love has started his Jim Richards Endurance Trophy campaign in perfect style, dominating the 35 lap opening race at Winton Motor Raceway, while Anthony Gilbertson impressed with a series first earlier in the day.
Love dominated the majority of the morning’s qualifying session and looked set to take pole position however, in the dying moments of qualifying, Gilbertson eclipsed Love’s best time by just 0.0136secs. In doing so, Gilbertson became the first ever Elite Class driver to score pole position in a Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia presented by Pirelli event.
“It was the best thing that I’ve ever done in motorsport,” said Gilbertson. “About 50 metres before I crossed the finish line I looked down on my dash at the reference time and I couldn’t believe that it said I was heading for a 1:21; I had to confirm it with the team and they were screaming at me that I just scored pole… I then had to confirm it was the real pole, not just the class pole.”
While Gilbertson and Love started on the front row, it was GT3 Cup Challenge debutant Peter Major who was leading at the end of the opening lap. Major retained the front position until Love, who had dropped to fourth after a slow jump off the start line, passed his fellow West Australian on lap 10.
Love then pulled away until the safety car was called on lap 23 while safety crews recovered debris from the track.
A strong restart allowed Love to once again pull away from the field to claim victory in the first Jim Richards Endurance Trophy race of the season.
“It’s really good to get another race win, especially in the first long distance race of the season. I have a few things to work on though; especially my start – I started on the front row and was fourth by turn one – and I should have been more consistency. But it’s great to get more laps under my belt and I’m happy with the win,” said Love.
“I’m looking forward to the other endurance races in Sydney and Queensland Raceway. I’m focussed on winning the championship, though the endurance title is also very much in my sights.”
Major placed second in his first ever GT3 Cup Challenge race from Brenton Grove, who qualified fourth and battled with the leaders early in the race before settling into a rhythm as part of the leading trio.
Pole-sitter Gilbertson placed fourth outright and led home a South Australian trio at the head of the Elite Class for his third class win of the season. The strong race one result follows an inconsistent start to the season, where he failed to finish three of the season’s six races entering the Winton round.
“My goal was to win the Elite Class in the race and not to worry too much about the outright win. It has been a really inconsistent start to the season for me so I’m eager to put together three strong races and claw some points back this weekend,” said Gilbertson, who claimed the Elite Class race win ahead of fellow South Australians John Karytinos and Elite Class points leader Sam Shahin – the trio involved in an immense battle in the closing laps of race one.
“I’m thrilled to get the race win. That safety car didn’t help me as I had pulled a gap on the other Elite Class guys, though it was a massive learning experience and I’m glad I came away with the class win.”
Behind the battle of the leading Elite Class trio, John Steffensen, John Morriss, Brett Boulton and debutant Marcel Zalloua battled for seventh place in the latter stages of the race. Morriss was challenging Steffensen for position earlier in the race, however spun on lap 17 before capitalising on the safety car period to move back behind Steffensen in the closing laps.
Morriss then moved through to seventh after a spin from Steffensen with two laps remaining, before Boulton passed Morriss for the lead of the battle pack on the final lap to place seventh from Morriss and Zalloua in ninth on debut.
Phil Morriss placed 10th from Steffensen, Rob Woods, who had to drive the majority of the race without a front splitter, with Class B race winner David Greig placing 13th outright. Newcomer Andrew Goldie failed to finish due to tyre and front slitter damage sustained after an altercation at turn one.
Two 12-lap races remain for the third round at Winton Motor Raceway, to be held on Sunday at 9:00am and 11:15am.
The Sunday race schedule of Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals from Winton, including race two and race three of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia presented by Pirelli, will be available to view via live stream from the Shannons Nationals website (www.thenationals.com.au).
Sunday June 11, 2017
9:00am Race 2 (12 laps)
11:15am Race 3 (12 laps)
Results – Race 1
1. #79 Jordan Love (Professional Class) Sonic Motor Racing/Quintis – 35 laps, 51:33.4613s
2. #14 Peter Major (Professional Class) PM Motorsport – 35 laps, 51:35.5563s
3. #23 Brenton Grove (Professional Class) Grove Hire – 35 laps, 51:41.9589s
4. #19 Anthony Gilbertson (Elite Class) Hallmark Homes – 35 laps, 51:43.6300s
5. #16 John Karytinos (Elite Class) Richmonds Automotive – 35 laps, 51:43.9307s
6. #13 Sam Shahin (Elite Class) HTFU – 35 laps, 51:45.5114s
7. #84 Brett Boulton (Elite Class) Bold Living – 35 laps, 52:00.6964s
8. #34 John Morriss (Elite Class) Motorsport Leasing P/L – 35 laps, 52:01.6039s
9. #17 Marcel Zalloua (Elite Class) 360 Motorsport/Valmont – 35 laps, 52:02.8085s
10. #88 Phil Morriss (Elite Class) Morriss Racing Services – 35 laps, 52:22.7493s
11. #78 John Steffensen (Professional Class) Zagame Autosport – 35 laps, 52:28.3289s
12. #29 Rob Woods (Elite Class) Platinum Nightclub – 34 laps, 52:34.4907s
13. #87 David Greig (Class B) 34 laps, 52:45.9974s
DNF #22 Andrew Goldie (Class B) 9 laps, 14:37.6376s