Shane van Gisbergen made his injury-delayed start to the new Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia Powered by AWS with victory in the first race at Bathurst. The Australian champion and his co-driver in the #888 Triple Eight Race Engineering-JMR Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo, Jefri Ibrahim, defeated the duo of Garth Tander and Yasser Shahin in the final few minutes of the race.
After a clean start, Yasser Shahin in the #777 The Bend Audi Sport Team Valvoline Audi R8 LMS GT3 and #96 Hobson Motorsport Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 pilot Brett Hobson took off from the rest of the field in what was a calm opening stint for the Am driver portion of the race.
Brad Schumacher was one of only a few drivers to improve their position during the opening laps, bringing his first-generation #55 Schumacher Motorsport Audi R8 LMS ultra GT3 from fourth on the grid to third at the pitstops. This came at the expense of Tony Bates, who started his #24 Bostik-AFS Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 from third but had dropped back to fifth by the time the pits opened.
With success time-penalties coming into play at the pitstops, the #777 Audi of Garth Tander jumped into the lead with the battling Chaz Mostert – having taken over the #24 Audi from Bates – and Shane van Gisbergen – the #888 Triple Eight Race Engineering-JMR Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo shared with Jefri Ibrahim who came into the pits from eighth – following a few seconds back in second and third.
The fight over second was settled in favour of Van Gisbergen when with 19 minutes to go Mostert was slapped with a stop-and-go penalty for breaching the minimum pitstop time by two-tenths.
With Mostert gone, Van Gisbergen began reeling in Tander by over half a second per lap. Having arrived at the back of the Audi with a handful laps remaining, Van Gisbergen felt out Tander for about a lap before he made his move going into the final turn. Despite Tander not giving up and going side-by-side all the way to Griffins Bend, the ‘Merc’ grabbed the lead with eight minutes to go and raced off.
Mostert recovered to third after his penalty, only relegating Brad Schumacher off the podium with a pass at The Chase on the last time by.
While only just missing out on an overall podium finish, fourth place did award Schumacher the win in the GT Trophy class for older spec cars. The win came after a long night for the Schumacher Motorsport crew as they worked all night to repair the Audi following an accident on Friday when a puncture sent the car off spinning into the wall at the high-speed Conrod Straight.
Rounding out the top five was the Pro-Am class #4 Grove Racing Porsche 991.2 GT3R of Stephen and Brenton Grove – the father-son duo having lost valuable time during their pitstop due to an added five seconds for a start infringement on top of their ten-second success penalty carried over from the opening round at Phillip Island.
Tony Quinn won the Am class, finishing ninth overall in the #7 Local Legends Aston Martin Vantage GT3, while the GT4 class victory went to the sole entry of Mark Griffith in the #19 Mercedes-AMG GT4.
Race 2 starts Sunday morning at 8:50 local time (0:50 CEST) and can be watched LIVE on GT REPORT.
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