A thrilling race-long battle between young racers Simon Fallon and Cooper Murray in race one of Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge Australia at Winton Motor Raceway has ended in victory for Fallon, while Murray walked away with the Jim Richards Endurance Trophy crown.
Murray qualified on pole position while Fallon gained the advantage from the start, leading Jimmy Vernon and Murray into the opening corner.
The safety car featured twice in the early stages of the race: Chelsea Angelo was unable to avoid a stationary Luis Leeds after Leeds failed to get away at the race start. Then on the restart, Pro-Am points leaders Danny Stutterd and Brett Boulton made contact at turn four, with Dan Day and Max Vidau also casualties of the accident.
Murray was able to pass Vernon after the second restart and pursue Fallon for the lead; quickly catching the race leader and applying pressure for the remainder of the race. However Fallon remained composed to take his fifth race win of the season and jump to the outright series lead by single point.
“It’s a pretty good results for me and the team. It’s the first time we’ve had a good result in one of these longer races. In testing we’ve been learning a lot about how to save the tyre and look after it a lot more because lately I’ve been quick in the sprint races but not-so-much in the longer distance races. It’s great to finally get one up in a longer race and hopefully I can continue at the front in tomorrow’s two sprint races,” said Fallon.
Second for Murray was enough to secure the Jim Richards Endurance Trophy following his race victories at the previous two long distance races at The Bend Motorsport Park and Queensland Raceway. Murray now becomes the eighth different winner of the endurance honour, adding his name to a list that includes Roger Lago, Kane Rose, Richard Muscat, Fraser Ross, James Abela, Jaxon Evans and 2017 winner Jordan Love.
“I’m very happy to win the Jim Richards Endurance Trophy and tick that box for the season. I’ve enjoyed the different challenges the longer races have provided this season and the fact that you have to be smart about your approach to each. To secure the Endurance Trophy is a real honours and now I can focus on the main championship and gain as many points as I can for the rest of the season,” said Murray.
Third place went to Vernon in an uneventful race for the Sydneysider, unchallenged for position after Murray moved to second at the restart. Following his early drama, Vidau was able to pit to replace a punctured tyre and recover to place fourth, while Tom Taplin celebrated his first race in the 991-series 911 GT3 Cup car with an impressive career-high fifth place.
With Pro-Am leaders Boulton and Stutterd out of the race, Marcel Zalloua took charge at the front of the class to ultimately take sixth place and his first class win from Michael Hovey, Michael Loccisano and Sam Fillmore, who placed ninth overall.
“It was a bit of a Bradbury moment, but it was good fun,” said Zalloua. “I managed to keep it clean and stay out of trouble and brought it home in sixth. Qualifying wasn’t so good for me so it was good to come back in race one with the right mindset and keep up with the front bunch of drivers.”
Christian Pancione was the best of the Class B field and was running in an impressive fifth outright until a broken throttle cable late in the race ended the young Victorian’s chances. This allowed fellow series rookie Sergio Pires to take his maiden class win from class champion David Greig and Phil Morriss.
Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge Australia will hold two sprint races on Sunday to conclude the Winton round, both of which can be viewed on the event live stream, available from www.thenationals.com.au.
Sunday September 02
9:00am Race 2 (12 laps)
11:55am Race 3 (12 laps)
Results: Race 1
|Position||Car||Driver||Class||Laps||Race time||Fastest lap|
|10||117||Sergio Pires||Class B||29||47:35.2263||1:25.4247|
|11||87||David Greig||Class B||28||46:31.5844||1:25.8590|
|12||88||Phil Morriss||Class B||28||46:33.6517||1:25.9642|
|13||22||Andrew Goldie||Class B||28||46:35.5440||1:25.9399|
|14||57||Richard Bloomfield||Class B||28||47:14.5515||1:27.8369|
|15||9||Tony Martin||Class B||28||47:14.8164||1:27.8486|
|DNF||76||Christian Pancione||Class B||23||38:36.7595||1:23.8152|