Round three of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia Powered by AWS continued with two one-hour races at The Bend Motorsport Park in South Australia. Both races saw a good amount of action, as weather passed from rain on Saturday to beautiful sunny weather on Sunday.
Difficult weather conditions were seen at The Bend Motorsport Park during the first race of the weekend for the GT World Challenge Australia, with drivers facing a big decision pre-race — debating whether to start on slicks or wet weather tyres on the damp but rain-threatened track.
While the pole-sitting Audi R8 LMS GT3 of track-owner Yasser Shahin and co-driver Garth Tander opted for rain compounds, that proved to be the incorrect move.
Brett Hobson, who opted for slicks in his GT Trophy-classed Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3, charged through the field and into the lead of the race as the track cleared out, obtaining a massive 20-second lead after just four laps of competition.
A safety car period midway through the first stint brought the field together, but once the green flag waved there was simply no stopping the GT-R.
More rain soon arrived, and Hobson was able to time his compulsory pit stop to perfection opting for grooved tyres.
After a dominant second stint, Hobson crossed the finish line 51 seconds clear of the field.
The Shahin/Tander Audi recovered from a difficult first stint to finish second overall and first in Pro-Am, after Tander was able to pass Dylan O’Keefe in his Audi R8 LMS GT3 with five minutes to go.
O’Keeffe, who was subbing in for Chaz Mostert alongside Tony Bates, finished third.
Andrew Macpherson and Ben Porter won the Am class in their Lamborghini Huracán GT3.
After a difficult race 1, Garth Tander and Yasser Shahin managed to recover and claim first in the second GT World Challenge Australia race at The Bend, although their win is still subject to a potential post-race penalty.
There was simply no stopping the Audi, with Tander not looking back after passing then leader Brenton Grove in his Grove Motorsport Porsche 991.2 GT3R on lap 12.
Drama unfolded during the mandatory stop, however, as the team faced a longer handicap stop. This saw Shahin being released late and colliding with the Tony Bates/Dylan O’Keeffe Audi R8 LMS GT3. This incident is currently being investigated as an unsafe release with a decision to be announced by officials throughout the coming days.
After having come out on track unscathed, Shahin was able to run down all cars that got past him during the pit stop, eventually passing the Grove Porsche — now driven by Stephen Grove — yet again and retake the lead on lap 26. Shahin crossed the finish line 10 seconds clear from the field.
The Grove Motorsport team scored a second-place finish ahead of the Triple Eight Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Broc Feeney and Jefri Ibrahim.
GT World Challenge Australia now goes on a long winterbreak before returning in September for the final round of the Sprint series held at Sandown where the Australian GT Championship title will be awarded, followed in October by two three-hour return legs at The Bend and Bathurst that make up the Endurance series with the winner crowned Australian Endurance Champion.
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