RYAN SIMPSPON, Tim Miles and Daniel Stutterd were the big winners from the opening round of the 2016 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia presented by Pirelli at Sandown Raceway.
Simpson completed a clean-sweep of the round and re-set the lap record this weekend to take the sixth round victory of his remarkable Porsche career – second of all time in the category.
Perfect starts were the key to Simpson’s success, launching off the line brilliantly in both races two and three on Sunday to build an early lead that no one was able to beat.
“I got a great start in the final race and wanted to get a bit of a gap early,” Simpson said following his race three win.
“It’s been a great weekend and after making the decision late to join the field this weekend it’s been great to come away with three wins and the lap record.
“It’s good to get the lap record – last year was an 11.7 and we’ve taken it down to a 1m11.1 so we’re getting faster and faster all weekend.
Simpson’s Sonic Motor Racing teammate Hamish Hardeman finished second overall for the weekend, his best finish since making his Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge debut mid-way through last year’s series.
Hardeman finished all three races in second position, making a strong start to his title charge this year.
Jaxon Evans finished third, another driver to bank his best-ever series result this weekend at Sandown. Race starts cost Evans – who grabbed pole on Saturday – track position this weekend however his race pace was as fast as his Sonic rivals.
A brief off at turn two early in the third race dropped him to fourth on the road, having scored podiums in races one and two, respectively.
Porsche Junior Jake Klarich impressed on his Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge series debut, a weekend-high fifth place in race two on Sunday morning the highlight of a solid weekend of learning.
Evans’ McElrea Racing teammate Tim Miles won the Elite class at Sandown, a stunning weekend including third outright in the final race as he battled with Evans for the duration of the race for the final spot on the podium.
Miles was delighted with the strong weekend and a strong start to his 2016 championship campaign.
“We’re wrapped with that. We’ve had great pace all weekend and to win the Elite class is great, but finishing third outright in the last race was sensational,” Miles said.
“Jaxon’s car had a few bits missing but I really wanted to finish in front of him!
“There seems to be about six or seven guys in the Elite class with the pace to win so I’m really looking forward to the season.”
A career-best weekend for Sam Shahin saw the South Australian grab second in Elite, including a stunning fifth outright in the final race of the weekend.
Shahin edged out fellow Adelaidian John Goodacre for the final spot on the Elite podium, the GAP Solutions driver successfully completing his 100th Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge race when he crossed the line sixth in the Sandown finale’.
The most experienced diver in the GT3 Cup Challenge field is likely to sit on the sidelines for the near future however was thankful for his time in the championship – one that includes starts in 34 of the 47 rounds contested since the series’ formation.
“We’ve had a great time in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge, it’s been great fun and the racing has been fantastic,” Goodacre said.
“On and off the track the series has been a great place to be and though we might not be seen for the rest of this year it’s been a great experience on and off the track – thanks to everyone behind the scenes at Porsche and everyone I’ve raced on the track for making it so good.”
Three consistent finishes across the three races delivered Daniel Stutterd his maiden victory in Class B this weekend, the FREEM supported driver winning all three races and setting all three fastest laps in a superb performance.
Michael Tsigeridis and Shane Barwood completed the Class B podium.
The second round of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia presented by Pirelli will see the series head to Sydney Motorsport Park to form a major part of the second Porsche Rennsport Festival, to be held on April 29-May 1.
There the series will compete alongside the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia in a weekend-long festival of all things Porsche.
Round 1 Results:
Professional / Outright
- Ryan Simpson 93
- Hamish Hardeman 75
- Jaxon Evans 66
- Tim Miles 92
- Sam Shahin 72
- John Goodacre 68
- Daniel Stutterd 93
- Michael Tsigeridis 75
- Shane Barwood 66