Stoupas Wins Australian GT Trophy Series Opener in R8 LMS GT3 Ultra
Matt Stoupas won the opening weekend of the Australian GT Trophy Series at Sandown Raceway driving an Audi R8 LMS GT3 Ultra.
He claimed victory in the first race and finished second in Race 2 but was the highest-placed registered Australian GT entrant in both.
Ben Schoots had the inverse of Stoupas’ results, winning Race 2 and finishing runner-up in Race 1, driving a SIN R1, but is not registered as an Australian GT entrant, and so didn’t score points.
Wayne Mack crossed the line third in both races, taking second-place points with his Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, ahead of Stoupas’ teammate Gary Higgon.
Race 1 only ran to six laps due to rain, and Stoupas admitted he found the conditions challenging: “Race 1 caught me out because I hadn’t started the car in the rain in probably three years and I got caught off the standing start, dropping back to sixth.
“I was quickly back to second behind Ben Schoots in the V8-powered SIN but I had pace on him, I just couldn’t get through safely in the six-laps allotted for that first race, but I gave it everything I had.”
One of the event’s noteworthy performances was that of 18-year-old Tayla Heath, who made her GT racing debut in a Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Evo.
She claimed the class win over Arthur Abrahams in Race 1 after a strong start that initially moved her up to third overall, while Abrahams went on to later take the Race 2 win.
News & Notes
***A number of IMSA teams tested at Sebring during the week, including Corvette Racing, BMW Team RLL, ERA Motorsports, AIM Vasser Sullivan, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports and WRT Speedstar. The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring takes place on March 21.
***A photoshoot (above) with all eight generations of Corvette race cars was held at Sebring by Corvette photographer Richard Prince. The group of cars included one from each iteration of the Corvette, stretching back six decades and finishing with Jordan Taylor and Antonio Garcia’s 2020 C8.R.
***Pirelli has named Pietro Berardi as its regional CEO for North America, while Marco Crola will take the role as Chairman North America. Berardi’s previous experience includes senior roles in the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance and at the FCA Group for Magneti Marelli.
***Curbstone AZUR, the French branch of Curbstone Track Events, will introduce a Clubsport Challenge concept, for owners of high-speed production cars, hypercars and clubsport race cars to drive their vehicles on four of Europe’s best race tracks.
***The non-competitive track day events will be held across two days directly after GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS races at Monza, Circuit Paul Ricard, Spa and Barcelona, all on Monday and Tuesdays, except for Spa on the Tuesday and Wednesday following the Total 24 Hours.
***Porsche held its annual Porsche Motorsport training camp last week in Tenerife, where its drivers underwent a series of team-building and fitness challenges to prepare for the coming season.
***Walkenhorst Motorsport will campaign a pair of BMW M4 GT4s in the DTM Trophy, with Ben Tuck its first confirmed driver. Tuck finished runner-up in the British GT Championship’s GT4 class last year, driving a BMW M4 for Century Motorsport.
***Andy Meyrick will drive for United Autosports in the Michelin Le Mans Cup despite initially being confirmed in Bullitt Racing’s Bentley Continental GT3 for the series. The Brit joins Daniel Schneider in one of United’s Ligier JS P320s, while Romain Monti replaces him in Bullitt’s Bentley, alongside team owner Stephen Pattrick.
***Former Bentley factory driver Meyrick will still race a Bentley this year, however, after being confirmed in JMW Motorsport’s car alongside Andrew Haryanto for GT World Challenge Asia powered by AWS.
***GAINER has announced that it will again run two Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3s in Super GT this year. The GT300 class outfit is continuing with the same driver lineup it ran in 2019 with Kazuki Hoshino and Keishi Ishikawa sharing a Dunlop-shod car and Katsuyuki Hiranaka and Hironobu Yasuda in a Yokohama machine.
***Another Super GT squad to confirm its 2020 plans last week was LM Corsa, which is running a single Lexus RC F GT3. Hiroki Yoshimoto has returned to the driver lineup his seventh consecutive campaign with the team while Japanese F3 racer Shunsuke Kohno joins for his maiden full season.
***Grasser Racing Team has signed Niels Lagrange as its third announced driver for the upcoming ADAC GT Masters season. The Belgian, 28, tested with Grasser at Circuit Paul Ricard last year and won the 24 Hours of Zolder in 2018. He joins Tim Zimmermann and Steijn Schothorst in the team’s GT Masters lineup.
***Toksport WRT will return to the German series as a full-season entrant with Mercedes-AMG factory drivers Maro Engel and Luca Stolz. The team, which has a rally background, made a couple of guest appearances with the same drivers last year, but has upgraded to the Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo for 2020.
***A sixth manufacturer has been added to the Intelligent Money British GT Championship’s GT3 grid in Porsche, with G-Cat Racing confirming a first full-season effort for Am drivers Shamus Jennings and Greg Caton. Their Porsche 911 GT3 R joins other entries representing Aston Martin, Bentley, Lamborghini, McLaren and Mercedes-AMG.
***Reigning GT4 European Series Silver Cup champion Simon Knap will have a new co-driver for the upcoming season in 16-year-old Daan Pijl. Dutch Ford Fiesta Sprint Cup champion Pijl effectively replaces Alec Udell in MDM Motorsport’s first BMW M4 GT4 driver lineup for the season. The team has yet to announce the pairing for its second car.
***Transgender racing driver Charlie Martin has reached the top-10 shortlist for the British LGBT Awards’ sports personality award. She made a number of starts in the Michelin Le Mans Cup LMP3 class last year.
***Pipo Derani has taken delivery of his Ford GT road car, which is a special Heritage Edition version and features a Gulf-like blue and orange color scheme. Derani joins Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Harry Tincknell as former Ford drivers that purchased Ford GT production cars.
***Peter Argetsinger, a veteran racer, coach and integral part of Watkins Glen International’s history, passed away on Feb. 6 after a fight against cancer at the age of 69. Argetsinger’s parents Jean and Cameron were the founders and organizers of the first races at Watkins Glen, and Peter himself had a long career as a racer and coach for the likes of Damon Hill, Juan Pablo Montoya, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Graham Rahal and James Hinchcliffe.
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report