Brenton Grove has dominated a chaotic opening race of the 2017 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia presented by Pirelli season at Sandown Raceway on Saturday, where five drivers’ race one campaigns ended 200m from the start line.
Grove scored pole position earlier in the day from Jordan Love and Anthony Gilbertson; the top three separated by just 0.03secs in qualifying. Grove then endured a slow start to race one, dropping down the order. As rivals filed past Grove, several made contact as they were filling the vacant track in front of the 19-year-old, resulting in a spectacular multi-car accident seconds after the start of the race.
The race was stopped momentarily while the track was cleared, with the contact forcing John Karytinos, Jordan Love, Anthony Gilbertson, Rob Woods and Ben Stack out of the race.
Grove was then given a handy advantage for the restart, starting on pole position with his next competitor located fifth on the grid. While challenged for position early in the race, Grove was able to gap the field and ultimately take an 11.5 second victory.
“It was a tough race. I really tried to get into a rhythm, hit my marks and not make any mistakes. I just tried to put everything I learned so far this weekend into practice and brought the car home,” said Grove.
“Out of every start I could have missed, that was probably the best one because I was behind all of the action. Once it happened I tried to let it unfold and wait until I was able to get through.
“Tomorrow should be good. It will be about focusing on getting a good start, staying out of trouble and remain at the front.”
The fight for second was a highlight late in the race. Sam Shahin held second and the Elite Class lead for the first half of the race before John Morriss moved ahead mid-race. Nick Karnaros and Michael O’Donnell then joined the battle in the closing laps, with just 0.7secs covering the quartet as they crossed the finish line; Karnaros claiming second place and the Elite Class win on debut from Shahin, Morriss and O’Donnell.
Sprinter-turn-racer John Steffensen had an impressive start to his Porsche racing career, finishing sixth on debut from Ross McGregor, Phil Morriss and Shane Barwood in ninth.
Brett Boulton finished 10th in his GT3 Cup Challenge debut from Class B runners David Greig, Michael Tsigeridis and Invitational Class driver Aaron Ireland.
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia presented by Pirelli will hold the final two races of the opening round on Sunday, both of which can be viewed online via live stream, available at the Shannons Nationals website at www.thenationals.com.au.
Sunday April 09, 2017
10:20am Race 2 (12 laps)
2:10pm Race 3 (12 laps)
Race 1 Results
1. #23 Brenton Grove (Professional Class) Grove Hire – 12 laps, 14:53.7072s
2. #25 Nick Karnaros (Elite Class) Porsche Centre Brighton – 12 laps, 15:05.3040s
3. #13 Sam Shahin (Elite Class) HTFU – 12 laps, 15:05.4464s
4. #34 John Morriss (Elite Class) Motorsport Leasing P/L – 12 laps, 15:05.9860s
5. #68 Michael O’Donnell (Elite Class) SHOAL / Thomson Geer – 12 laps, 15:05.9994s
6. #78 John Steffensen (Professional Class) Zagame Autosport – 12 laps, 15:08.9837s
7. #99 Ross McGregor (Elite Class) Southern Star Windows – 12 laps, 15:10.5492s
8. #88 Phil Morriss (Elite Class) Morriss Racing Services – 12 laps, 15:14.8631s
9. #21 Shane Barwood (Elite Class) Melbourne Orthopaedic Group – 12 laps, 15:17.8726s
10. #84 Brett Boulton (Elite Class) Bold Living – 12 laps, 15:20.3001s
11. #87 David Greig (Class B) Hunter French Real Estate – 12 laps, 15:28.5762s
12. #81 Michael Tsigeridis (Class B) Creditline Finance – 12 laps, 15:29.1311s
13. #66 Aaron Ireland (Class B) – 12 laps, 15:41.1981s
14. #79 Jordan Love (Professional Class) Sonic Motor Racing / Quintis1
15. #19 Anthony Gilbertson (Elite Class) Hallmark Homes
16. #16 John Karytinos (Elite Class) Richmonds Automotive
17. #65 Ben Stack (Elite Class) DNA Racing
18. #29 Rob Woods (Elite Class) Platinum Nightclub