Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge battle intensifies at Sandown
After a six-week break, the Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge teams head to Springvale, 25km to the south-east of Melbourne’s CBD to the historic Sandown Raceway for round 5 of the 2019 Championship.
The 3.1km track – which has played host to the likes of Jack Brabham, Jim Clark, Juan Manuel Fangio and Jean-Louis Schlesser in its illustrious past – will be a fitting host to the finale of the Championship’s prized Jim Richards Endurance Trophy.
Named in honour of the Australasian racing legend, Jim Richards, the Trophy was first held in 2011 as a series within the Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge Championship. Past victors have included the likes of Roger Lago (2011); Fraser Ross (2014); Jaxon Evans (2016); Jordan Love (2017) and Cooper Murray (2018) to name but a few.
Only three drivers have a mathematical chance of claiming the 2019 Jim Richards Endurance Trophy in the final race at Sandown on Sunday. Among those in contention is current championship Pro class leader Harri Jones (228pts), followed by the SRG Global/Sonic Motor Racing entry of Aaron Love (198pts) and Melbourne resident, Christian Pancione on 180pts.
Jones, Love and Pancione are also among the leading protagonists for Pro class round honours this weekend, together with fellow Michelin Junior drivers Ryan Suhle and Max Vidau. Vidau will be hungry to get his championship fight back on track after he was forced to retire while leading Race 2 in Queensland Raceway.
Vidau broke the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Challenge lap record at the Sandown circuit in 2018 with a time of 1m11.1226s and will be a strong favourite for victory this weekend, thanks in part to the local knowledge of his Sonic Motor Racing Team.
With 60 points on offer per race, the championship is still wide open with Bob Jane T-Marts driver lying third in the overall championship, 8 points adrift of Sonic teammate Aaron Love and 24 points behind the Heli Mods entry of series’ leader Harri Jones.
Cameron Crick will hand over the reins to the GWR Australia entry in Sandown to Oliver Shannon from the NSW Production Touring series, after a successful test session for the talented junior under the guidance of team owner Garth Walden at Wakefield Park last Saturday. Shannon will race under the Race for a Cure banner and promises to be one of the most exciting additions to the competitive Pro field.
In the TAG Heuer Pro-Am battle, Sam Shahin holds a healthy 76 point advantage over Brett Boulton after dominating the class in the first two rounds of this season in Tasmania and Sydney Motorsport Park. Boulton then returned serve with four victories (and a second-place) from the last six races.
Shahin will be doing all in his power to maintain his point’s buffer, but Boulton looks to have the momentum and is working well with his McElrea Racing team.
The Southern Star Windows entry of Ross McGregor sits third in the Pro-Am championship standings, well clear of Rob Woods and Graham Williams who are locked in their own battle for fifth position. McGregor will equal the highest number of round starts in the series’ history this weekend, a record currently held by John Goodacre.
Sandown will also see the return of experienced Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge campaigners, Danny Stutterd and Jonathan Gliksten to the TAG Heuer Pro-am field. While Michael Loccisano will miss this round due to business commitments abroad.
In the hotly contested Class B championship, it remains a two-horse race between David Greig and Andrew Goldie, the 997 pair sharing every race win this season… Sandown should be no different. Tony Martin has injured his hand is out for the rest of the season, which leaves his third place in the championship in jeopardy from Nathan Murray.
After a pair of practice sessions and late afternoon qualifying on Friday, two races will be held on a busy Saturday. The final Jim Richards Endurance Trophy completes the round on Sunday morning, with all three races streamed live via the Shannons Nationals website.
Car # CLASS DRIVER SURNAME SPONSOR
3 TAG Heuer Pro-Am Jonathan Gliksten Cure FA
5 Class B Nathan Murray Garage 1
7 Pro Ryan Suhle Ray White
12 Pro Harri Jones Heli Mods
13 TAG Heuer Pro-Am Sam Shahin The Bend/HTFU
14 TAG Heuer Pro-Am Matt Belford ID Land
22 Class B Andrew Goldie Woodford Trailers
23 TAG Heuer Pro-Am Danny Stutterd CB – Living
26 Pro Tom Taplin Taplin Real Estate
29 TAG Heuer Pro-Am Rob Woods Commercial Interior Projects
73 TAG Heuer Pro-Am Michael Hovey Triffid Bar
76 Pro Christian Pancione VCM Performance
77 Pro Max Vidau Sonic Motor Racing / Bob Jane T-Marts
78 Pro Aaron Love Sonic Motor Racing / SRG Global
84 TAG Heuer Pro-Am Brett Boulton Bold Living
87 Class B David Greig Daikin Air Conditioning / DW Motorsport
99 TAG Heuer Pro-Am Ross McGregor Southern Star Windows P/L
131 TAG Heuer Pro-Am Graham Williams Sonic Motor Racing
222 TAG Heuer Pro-Am Scott Taylor Scott Taylor Motorsport
TBC Pro Oliver Shannon Race for a Cure
Schedule – Round 5, Sandown Raceway
Friday, 20 September
12:10-12:40: Practice 1
14:55-15:25: Practice 2
Saturday, 21 September
10:45-11:05: Race 1
15:05-15:25: Race 2
Sunday, 22 September
09:10-09:55: Race 3 (Jim Richards Endurance Trophy)
TV Broadcast details
Qualifying and all three races will be streamed live via www.thenationals.com.au website