Tony Walls has taken a break-through victory in a dramatic CAMS Australian GT Championship race in Adelaide.
Fast and consistent across the weekend, Walls’ Objective Racing McLaren 650S GT3 took the lead with less than a lap to run, holding off the hard-charging Justin McMillan to take his first win in the category.
“I didn’t know I’d won,” Walls laughed after the race. “When I passed [Scott] Taylor with five laps to go or so the guys told me I was in P2, and I told them to stop talking to me!
“It was only after I crossed the line that I found out I’d won.”
Race 1 winner Roger Lago had taken control of the race following the compulsory pit stop window, reeling in the Scott Taylor Motorsport car to move into the lead after 15 laps.
Taylor stepped into the car following a blistering opening stint from co-driver Craig Baird, who’d raced away at more than a second a lap to hold a seven second lead by the time he handed the car over to Taylor.
However a mistake by Taylor at the Senna Chicane saw the Mercedes-AMG GT3 scrape the barrier, and give Lago all the incentive he needed while Taylor ended the 24-lap race in sixth place.
Winner of Race 2, James Koundouris, was an early casualty after being involved in a collision with Peter Hackett on the opening lap.
As the pack jostled for position Hackett looked to put a move on Tony Quinn in the Darrell Lea McLaren 650S GT3 but was unable to pull up his car up in time for turn nine hairpin.
Hackett made contact with the Superbarn Supermarkets Audi, which drew the safety car until racing resumed on lap five.
The delay left Baird and Lago in strong positions, with Baird seizing the race lead from the JBS Australia Lamborghini as he began stretching his legs at the front of the pack.
However the complexion of the race changed on the final lap when the race leader skated up the escape road.
Approaching lapped traffic at turn four, Lago found his way blocked and opted to head for the escape road.
With the chasing pack closing in, Lago then struck the wall with the right rear wheel as he attempted to re-join the circuit, damaging the car and ending his race.
It promoted Walls into the lead, who had remained calm under pressure as Glen Wood harried the back of his McLaren.
Walls however wouldn’t be rattled and drove an error free final lap to claim his first victory in the CAMS Australian GT Championship.
Matt Solomon put in a fine performance to race from 21st to third at the flag in a quiet but consistent performance in his first weekend in the category.
There was a silver lining for Lago as his performances in the opening two races of the weekend proved enough to maintain the lead of the Gold Driver Cup, and see him second in the CAMS Australian GT Championship points standings.
The points standings is currently headed by the Interlloy M Motorsport Lamborghini R-EX of Glen Wood/Justin McMillan by 4 points with Tony Walls in third place, 22 points further back.
Round 2 of the CAMS Australian GT Championship will be held as part of the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix, with four races across the weekend.