Jake Camilleri has taken out a dramatic inaugural event for the GT-1 Australia Series, held as part of the Australian Motor Racing Series’ first South Australian visit at Mallala this weekend.
Driving a MARC II Mustang, Camilleri qualified on pole position but had to settle for second place in the first 50-minute race after fellow MARC II Mustang driver Clint Harvey was able to capitalise on a shorter compulsory pit-stop to fight his way into the lead.
Also taking advantage of a short pit-stop time was John Goodacre (MARC I Ford Focus) who finished third in Race 1, ahead of the Audi R8 LMS trio of Matt Stoupas, Steve McLaughlan and Rod Salmon.
The action started early in Race 2 with Goodacre losing a wheel on the formation lap. Camilleri took the early lead from Harvey, but shortly after the pit-stop window opened, Salmon crashed heavily on the back straight, triggering a red-flag interruption while his Audi was recovered.
The race restarted for a 15-minute sprint with Rio Nugara (Audi) leading due to a short pit-stop time, but he was immediately overtaken by Harvey and Camilleri’s MARC II cars; a relentless Camilleri subsequently zipped past his team-mate and pulled clear to clinch the round win.
“These MARC II cars are fantastic, a big improvement over the MARC I cars I’ve raced previously,” Camilleri said.
“As well as being faster, they’re also a lot more refined and they’re perfect for this type of racing.
“The first GT-1 round was a lot of fun – there’s a relaxed atmosphere, it’s very well organised and great value for money, so it’s only going to become more popular. I can’t wait to race in more rounds and hopefully be the series’ first champion!”
Harvey sealed second for the round ahead of the consistent McLaughlan.
James Burge continued his domination of the Legend Cars Australia category, extending his winning streak to 10 straight races after another perfect weekend.
However, Burge was made to work hard for his victories by Ben Jagger, who chased him all the way to the flag in Races 1 and 2. Jagger was unlucky to miss out on a round podium after mechanical problems in Race 3.
Canberra driver Zane Morse also showed race-winning potential, taking the lead briefly in Race 4, before a number of off-track excursions took him out of the equation, leaving the consistent Brendan Hourigan and Stephen Chilbey to finish second and third respectively.
A couple of reverse-grid races were not enough to stop Chad Cotton from taking a clean-sweep in the Miniature Race Cars, the Team Supreme Future Racer pilot showing unstoppable speed in all four races. However, Cotton was lucky to see the chequered flag in Race 2, his engine blowing on the cool-down lap.
“Luckily for me, I took the chequered flag before the engine let go, and then we had to work all night to fit a replacement – fortunately, it proved to be up to the job,” Cotton said.
In the Combined Sedans category, it was Sven Burchartz who won all three IROC Challenge races from Greg Keene and Rohan Little, while Charlie “Handlebars” Kovacs made a triumphant return to racing in the Aussie Racing Utes, winning the round ahead of Richard Mork and debutant Clint Henderson. Brent Edwards took Super Six Touring Car honours.
The AMRS heads to Morgan Park for Round 3, 8-10 June.