Rod Salmon and Steve McLaughlan have handed Audi a clean sweep at the opening round of the 2017 CAMS Australian GT Trophy Series presented by Pirelli at Sandown Raceway.
Having stormed his way to victory in the opening 50-minute race, McLaughlan was then part of a thrilling three-way lead battle deep into the day’s second race.
Pushing hard in pursuit of race leader Rob Smith, McLaughlan spun in the closing minutes of the race to fall to seventh at the flag.
Moments later,.Salmon capitalised on a moment’s hesitation from Smith, seizing the inside line at Dandenong Road to move into top spot.
Smith immediately fought back, harrying the back of the Skwirk Audi R8 Ultra for the remainder of the race, the two Audi Sport Customer Racing Australia cars split by just 0.9-seconds at the flag.
“The weather was absolutely terrible, but the racing was close,” enthused Rod Salmon after collecting the trophy for claiming second for the round.
“At the end Audis were just on each other; Steve was in front of me, Rob was in front of me, then when Steve just clipped the corner and went around in front of me I thought it was all over.
“It was exciting to get the win considering the first place when we were pretty well off the pace with old tyres.”
Third place across the line in Trophy Class was Wayne Mack (Mack Bros Roofing Products Ferrari 458 GT3), who flashed across the line less than half a second off the back of Scott Hookey’s Fiorano Motorsport Ferrari 458 Challenge.
Earlier, McLaughlan drove an inch perfect race to dominate the opening encounter, taking control of proceedings at the pit stops before extending a 39-second advantage over Jan Jinadasa.
McLaughlan had gone door to door through the opening two corners with pole-sitter Jake Fouracre, the Eat Funiture Audi holding the advantage around the outside of turn one before handing the car to Rio Nugara from the race lead.
Jan Jinadasa put in a solid drive to take a well-earned second place in the JJA Consulting Lamborghini Gallardo while, rising almost unnoticed through the field, Emanuel Mezzasalma moved from 15th to 3rd in the to record a strong podium position
“The race this morning was great because we had plenty of tyre grip,” McLaughlan explained.
“We finished seventh in the second race, which wasn’t ideal because we were fighting for the lead.
“It didn’t quite go to plan in the second race, but we managed to gather it up and do enough to get the round win,” McLaughlan said.
“It’s great to have a win, and hopefully we can go on and have a few more.”
A race-long battle between Rod Salmon (Skwirk Audi R8) and Rob Smith (Southern Developments Audi) was resolved in the dying stages in favour of the 2016 title winner as Keith Kassulke claimed the opening MARC Class victory of the weekend, before trailing Jake Camilleri across the line in Race 2.
The MARC Cars Australia duo had been engaged in an exciting battle for fifth place mid-way through the opening race that also involved Smith and Salmon, with Kassulke ultimately taking out the round courtesy of two strong qualifying sessions on Saturday.
Camilleri scored enough points to claim second for the round and John Goodacre (Gap Solutions/SEKTOR) sealed third in class for the weekend.
The CAMS Australian GT Trophy Series presented by Pirelli next heads to Winton Motor Raceway (June 9-11) for its second round, while Australian GT will be back in action at Barbagallo for the third round of the CAMS Australian GT Championship on May 5-7.
Race 1 Results
Pos Competitor/Team Driver Vehicle Time
1 Audi Sport Customer Racing Steve McLaughlan Audi R8 LMS Ultra 50:29.051
2 JJA Consulting Group Jan Jinadasa Lamborghini Gallardo LP560 51:08.144
3 Harcourts Epping Emanuel Mezzasalma Porsche 997 Cup Car 51:35.991
4 Audi Sport Customer Racing Rob Smith Audi R8 LMS Ultra 50:37.485
5 MARC Cars Australia Keith Kassulke MARC Focus V8 50:39.623
6 Audi Sport Customer Racing Rod Salmon Audi R8 LMS Ultra 50:43.700
7 MARC Cars Australia Jake Camilleri MARC Mazda V8 50:44.172
8 Freechoice Travers Beynon Audi R8 LMS 50:53.708
9 Audi Sport Customer Racing Rio Nugara/Jake Fouracre Audi R8 LMS Ultra 51:06.150
10 Fiorano Motorsport Scott Hookey Ferrari 458 Challenge 51:19.601
11 Mack Bros Roofing Products Wayne Mack Ferrari 458 GT3 51:26.286
12 MARC Cars Australia Melinda Price/Liam McLellan MARC Mazda V8 51:32.380
13 Kentucky Fried Chicken Gary Higgon/Matthew Stoupas Audi R8 LMS 50:58.697
14 Whitlock Bull Bars Con Whitlock Audi R8 LMS 51:14.367
15 Audi Sport Customer Racing Rick Mensa Audi R8 LMS 51:26.295
16 M Motorsport Interlloy Justin McMillan/Dean Koutsoumidis KTM X-Bow 50:29.568
DNF Gap Solutions/SEKTOR John Goodacre MARC Focus V8 08:45.816
DNS Safe-T-Stop Richard Gartner Lamborghini Gallardo LP600
Race 2 Results
Pos Competitor/Team Driver Vehicle Time
1 Audi Sport Customer Racing Rod Salmon Audi R8 LMS Ultra 51:21.393
2 Audi Sport Customer Racing Rob Smith Audi R8 LMS Ultra 51:22.313
3 Fiorano Motorsport Scott Hookey Ferrari 458 Challenge 51:57.714
4 Mack Bros Roofing Products Wayne Mack Ferrari 458 GT3 51:58.193
5 JJA Consulting Group Jan Jinadasa Lamborghini Gallardo LP560 52:00.865
6 MARC Cars Australia Jake Camilleri MARC Mazda V8 52:09.743
7 Audi Sport Customer Racing Steve McLaughlan Audi R8 LMS Ultra 52:13.303
8 MARC Cars Australia Keith Kassulke MARC Focus V8 52:22.774
9 Audi Sport Customer Racing Rick Mensa Audi R8 LMS 52:29.813
10 Freechoice Travers Beynon Audi R8 LMS 51:27.855
11 Safe-T-Stop Richard Gartner Lamborghini Gallardo LP600 51:39.263
12 Gap Solutions/SEKTOR John Goodacre MARC Focus V8 52:12.698
13 Whitlock Bull Bars Con Whitlock Audi R8 LMS 51:51.216
14 M Motorsport Interlloy Justin McMillan/Dean Koutsoumidis KTM X-Bow 52:27.530
DNF MARC Cars Australia Melinda Price/Liam McLellan MARC Mazda V8 50:17.138
DNF Harcourts Epping Emanuel Mezzasalma Porsche 997 Cup Car 01:38.528
DNF Kentucky Fried Chicken Gary Higgon/Matthew Stoupas Audi R8 LMS 01:43.466
DNF Audi Sport Customer Racing Rio Nugara/Jake Fouracre Audi R8 LMS Ultra
Trophy Class Points Score*
Steve McLaughlan 165
Rod Salmon 161
Jan Jinadasa 155
Rob Smith 153
Wayne Mack 108
Travers Beynon 78
Emanuel Mezzasalma 70
Rick Mensa 65
Con Whitlock 52
Rio Nugara 50
Jake Fouracre 50
Richard Gartner 50
Gary Higgon 32
Matthew Stoupas 32
MARC Class Points Score*
Keith Kassulke 202
Jake Camilleri 190
John Goodacre 85
Melinda Price 81
Liam McLellan 81
*Points score to be officially confirmed