Mercedes AMG GT drivers Vince Muriti and Luke Youlden have snatched a memorable win on the very final lap of this evening’s NSW Production Sports/Super GT 4 Hour, held under lights at Sydney Motorsport Park as part of the Magnolia Capital AMRS Round 1.
Youlden snared pole position in the Top 10 Shootout after Barton Mawer, provisionally the fastest qualifier, spun his Audi R8 at turn two.
The race began in the setting sun, with Sydney Motorsport Park’s lighting system taking hold as the ambient light faded.
In the early laps, Matt Stoupas took the early ascendancy aboard the #23 Audi R8 he was sharing with Yasser Shahin, pulling ahead of the Nick Kelly/Barton Mawer Audi R8 and Garth Walden/Michael Sheargold Porsche 911. Muriti took control of the pole-sitting Mercedes for the opening stint and drifted a few spots during the early laps, but stayed in touch with the lead pack.
As the race progressed, the Lamborghini entries of David Wall/Adrian Dietz and Andrew Macpherson/Ben Porter also clawed their way into contention, Wall moving up to second position after each team had completed their first two compulsory pit stops.
The intervention of a Safety Car with around 70 minutes remaining (to retrieve the stranded Adam Hargraves/Daniel Jilesen MARC II car) shuffled team strategies. As the final pit cycle played out across the last hour of the race, it was the quiet starting and fast finishing combination of Wall/Deitz who emerged as the race leaders with just 30 minutes remaining. Unfortunately, the team was forced into an unscheduled pit stop on the very last lap, which saw the Lamborghini falling to third and handing the win to Muriti/Youlden, with Mawer/Kelly finishing second.
TA2 drivers were left to feel like they were chasing an uncatchable target in qualifying after Nathan Herne completed just one lap in the session, enough to put him a full second clear of the field. Behind Herne, the times were much closer with Tim Shaw and Zach Loscialpo separated by just 0.006s.
The first of two races for the day, was a 15-minute sprint in direct sunlight. Herne quickly sprinted away at the front of the field and left his competitors to battle for the minor placings. Shaw won out in an extremely tight fight with Graham Cheney with the pair placing second and third. Also of note was Nash Morris placing fourth in his TA2 debut, just ahead of Loscialpo in 5th. Herne proved again uncatchable in race two however plenty unfolded behind him, with multiple cars going off at turn one. Drama’s for Cheney dropped him off the podium and allowed Nash Morris onto the third step, he wasn’t content however as he then passed Shaw to claim second place, with Shaw third.
The opening day of action in the Australian Formula Ford Championship looked likely to be dominated by CHE Racing’s duo of Tom Sargent and Noah Sands after the pair qualified first and second. Race one for the weekend began smoothly for the field but went pear shaped in the early laps when a move from Jake Donaldson sent Sands into a spin, costing them both a podium chance. Sargent skipped away to claim the race win ahead of Cody Burcher who fended off Jude Bargwanna in the fight for second and third.
In the Motorsport Sales Enduro Champs it was a dominant display by Grant and Iain Sherrin in their Sherrin Rentals BMW M4, with pole position and each of the race wins for the day. In race one, the eventual race winner’s identity was somewhat masked as Jake Camilleri stayed out until the latter stages of the race before completing his pit stop. In the end Sherrin won comfortably with Camilleri falling to second ahead of the Gerry and Leigh Burges Mitsubishi Evo in third. Race 2 was another unthreatened affair for the Sherrins as they cruised home ahead of Beric Lynton/Tim Leahey who had worked their way up the order and Camilleri who fell one place to third.
In Australian Formula 3 it was a pole position by half a second for Ben Taylor over Ryan Astley, while Max De Meyrick and Mitch Neilson could only be separated by one tenth in the battle for third. However, that was the highlight of the day for three of those drivers, with Taylor, Astley and De Meyrick all running into trouble and missing the podium. As a result, Neilson took the race win, beating home long-time rivals Gerrit Ruff and Roman Krumins.
The Stock Cars and Invited category had one race today; pole-sitter Corey Gurner battled ferociously with Brett Mitchell, with the lead changing hands multiple times before Mitchell ultimately emerged as the race winner from Gurney, with Danny Burgess coming home third.
Jake Klein claimed pole position for the Miniature Race Cars, but it was David Halls who proved strongest in both races, winning a close fight with Peter Griffiths in race one, with Klein falling to third. Halls also won race two with Garry Roberts leapfrogging Griffifths into second spot.