Harri Jones takes victory in the final race of Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge in QR
As a blanket of early fog lifted from the Queensland Raceway on Sunday morning, all eyes were on the front row-pairing Harri Jones and Christian Pancione for the final race of Round 4 of the Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge.
The pair had traded blows the whole weekend and with championship rival, Max Vidau starting from the back of the field, Jones would be looking to extend his lead overall. Pancione, by contrast, would be hungrier than ever for his first win in Porsche GT3 Cup Car – having finished behind Jones in third and second respectively for the weekends’ first races.
Race 3 literally started with a bang near the back of the TAG Heuer Pro-Am class, with Matt Belford and Graham Williams coming together off the start line. Belford’s car would pivot into the newly-reinforced Queensland Raceway pit wall, while Williams’ car would limp on to the outside of Turn 1.
With both cars stranded, a lengthy safety car period ensued. Jones backed up the field before the restart as he had done successfully in Race 2 and was closely followed by Pancione, Aaron Love, Ryan Suhle and Tom Taplin.
Sam Shahin had got the jump on Brett Boulton in the TAG Heuer Pro-Am class after the Race 2 winner struggled off the start. Andrew Goldie and David Greig meanwhile, resumed where they had left off and continued their weekend-long tussle in Class B.
The safety car period removed any concerns the drivers might have had regards tyre conservation for Race 3 and it would be an intense finish to the line.
Jones executed the perfect restart as the cars emerged onto the pit straight with 7 laps remaining. Pancione slotted into second but challenged Jones for the lead down the back straight.
Jones took a defensive line into Turn 2 and retained his slight advantage, while McElrea teammate, Ryan Suhle was held up behind Aaron Love in the battle for third.
Suhle had better tyres and race pace than Love, causing the Bob Jane T-Marts driver to defend aggressively for a number of laps. Suhle eventually lost patience and dove up the inside of the left-handed turn 3 in the dying laps.
The contact relegated Love to fifth behind Sonic Racing teammate Max Vidau, who had made an impressive recovery from the back of the grid. After the race, the stewards would hand down a 15sec post-race penalty to Suhle, dropping the McElrea Racing driver to 11th in the final classification.
Jones would hold off Pancione for the race (and round) win, while Sam Shahin and Goldie would take line honours in their respective classes.
After the race, Jones thanked his team and sponsors, “It’s been an awesome weekend, with two victories, a second and the round win, all in front of my support team and Heli Mods sponsors. The car was unreal and I can’t thank McElrea Racing team enough.”
“Taking the series’ 200th race yesterday afternoon, was one of the best races of my life and my season so far. With such a long race, it was probably one of the biggest challenges for myself and the team, as it’s easy to produce a car that’s quick in the first 10 laps, but producing a car that’s quick over 30 laps is just awesome.”
The Queenslander extends his lead in the overall Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge Championship, as the teams now head south for Round 5 at Sandown Raceway on the 20-22 September
For race interviews, pictures and videos, follow the Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge social pages: Instagram – @CupChallengeAus / Twitter – @CupChallengeAus / Facebook.com/CupChallengeAus
Full Results: https://www.porschesprintchallenge.com.au/results/
Next race: Round 5, Sandown Raceway
20-22 August 2019