Victory in Race 3 on Sunday has handed Tony Bates the lead of the 2017 CAMS Australian GT Championship after the opening round of the season on the streets on Adelaide.
Bates opened his account on Friday with his maiden race win before sealing a narrow victory in the final race of the weekend from Roger Lago today.
A red flag in the early stages transformed the race into a 20-minute sprint to the line, with Bates assuming control following his pit stop.
The Moveitnet/CFS driver stopped shortly after the window opened, while Lago remained on circuit in the JBS Australia entry for another two laps.
As Lago accelerated out of the pit lane following his stop, Bates powered by aboard his Eggleston Motorsport-run Mercedes-AMG GT3 to take the lead.
For the next seven laps the pair ran nose to tail, with Bates going on to drive an inch-perfect race to keep Lago at bay. He now holds a nine-point advantage over Lago, who finished second in all three of the weekend’s races.
“I didn’t come into the category to think about championships, I really wanted to measure myself against different drivers,” said Bates.
“Roger and Peter are definitely at the top of the Am category. They race hard and they race fair. I had a good look at them race yesterday and it was really good racing; I think all three of us can race competitively it’s going to be a fun season.”
Last year’s race-winner Tony Walls recorded his best result of the weekend with a measured drive to third place in the Objective Racing McLaren 650S GT3, while Max Twigg crossed the line in fifth place for the Australian Engineered Flooring Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Peter Major’s strong weekend continued, ending the race in fourth place to finish third overall for the round in the PM Motorsport Lamborghini R-EX.
Liam Talbot had an eventful race to sixth place, including becoming involved in a late-race scuffle that also involved Mark Griffith and Greg Taylor.
An early incident for Tim Miles saw the Hungry Jacks-backed Lamborghini R-EX make contact with the wall at the sweeping Turn 8, leaving Dean Canto nowhere to go in the Pirelli/Trofeo Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3.
Wheel-to-wheel contact between the two cars threw Canto skywards while the field took avoiding action as the two cars came to a rest.
Both drivers climbed free of their cars, while Kelvin van der Linde’s luckless weekend continued as the Valvoline Audi R8 LMS picked up a puncture and damage to the right-hand.
The race was suspended as the cars were retrieved, restarting with a little over 20 minutes remaining on the clock.
The pit window was adjusted on account of the restarted race, helping Tony Walls climb from eleventh prior to his stop to third.
At the front of the race there was nothing between Bates and Lago, who recorded near identical fastest laps – just 0.005 seconds split the pair’s best efforts – around the Adelaide Parklands circuit.
There was a late scare however, as a missed gear on approach to the chequered flag saw Lago draw alongside, Bates clinging on by little more than a tenth of a second for his second victory of the weekend.
After the opening event Bates leads the 2017 CAMS Australian GT Championship with 189 points, ahead of Lago with 180, while Bates also heads the Gold Driver Cup, a competition for drivers aged over 40 years of age who compete solo.