It’s time for the first Weekend Racing Roundup of the 2015 season. The Australian GT Championship started its season with three races in Adelaide, Trans Am raced at Sebring International Raceway, while the African Endurance Series got underway at Phakisa Raceway.
Australian GT Championship
The opening round of the 2015 Australian GT Championship was held in Adelaide, with two races on Saturday and one on Sunday. Nathan Antunes left Adelaid with the championship lead.
Pole sitter Jono Lester (Ferrari) led race one from the start, ahead of Dean Canto’s Aston Martin and Antunes’ Audi. The trio battled for the lead, until the safety car was deployed when Morgan Haber crashed his Erebus Motorsport GT Mercedes halfway through the race.
Lester stayed behind the safety car as others pitted and dropped down the order when he finally made his compulsory pit stop. Erebus’ Max Twigg and then Marcus Marshall’s Porsche took the lead, but with just over a minute left Antunes passed Marshall and went on to win race one.
The Skwirk Audi started from pole for race two and Antunes fought with Christopher Mies for the lead, before both cars became involved in a multi-car crash. Antunes was given a drive-through for causing the accident and he returned in second place.
Antunes managed to catch Steve McLaughlan in the leading No. 75 Audi and took the lead when McLaughlan spun his car at turn four. Antunes did not make a mistake and took his second win of the day, with the McLaren of Tony and Klark Quinn taking second place.
Like race one, race three was a 30-minute sprint race. Right after the start Paul Kelly lost control of the No. 27 Ferrari, crashing into the tyre wall before bouncing back onto the racing line. The Ferrari was hit by a number of cars and the safety car was sent out.
After the wrecked cars had been removed, the track had been cleaned and the drivers had completed their compulsory pit stops Richard Gartner was in the lead ahead of Theo Koundouris, with Tony Quinn down in ninth and Antunes in 16th place. Quinn and Antunes fought back and onto the final lap it was Quinn who took the lead and subsequent race win.
Race 1 – 1. Skwirk/Beechwood Homes (Antunes) Audi, 2. Supabarn Supermarket (Marshall) Porsche, 3. Adina Apartment Hotels (Mawer) Audi.
Race 2 – 1. Skwirk/Beechwood Homes (Antunes) Audi, 2. Darrell Lea (Quinn/Quinn) McLaren, 3. Trass Family Motorsport (Lester/Kelly) Ferrari.
Race 3 – 1. Darrell Lea (Quinn/Quinn) McLaren, 2. Supabarn Supermarket (Koundouris) Porsche, 3. Skwirk/Beechwood Homes (Antunes) Audi.
African Endurance Series
Following their triumph last year, Harp Motorsport claimed back-to-back victories in the African 6 Hour at Phakisa Speedway, the opening round of the newly launched South African Endurance Series.
The No. 11 Juno SS3 CN car of Johan Englebrecht, Ferdi Van Niekerk and Steve Humble took a four-lap win over the No. 9 Porsche SA Porsche 997 GT3 Cup car, which claimed top honors in the production-based class.
The race saw two LMP2 style cars in action, including the No. 100 Team Africa Le Mans Pilbeam MP100, which finished 17 laps back in sixth overall after early race issues for the Greg Mills-led squad.
The team’s other entry, the No. 98 Pilbeam MP98 of Roddy Mills and Andrea Bates, meanwhile, led overall at one stage but retired with less than two hours to go with engine failure.
A total of 26 cars, ranging from prototypes to vintage GT cars, started the race, which ended in darkness at the 2.63-mile speedway/road course in Welkom, near Johannesburg.
Race — 1. Harp Motorsport (Juno SS3 CN) 2. Porsche SA (Porsche 997 GT3 Cup) 3. Black Chrome (Shelby Can Am)
Amy Ruman emerged victorious in the season-opening Foametix Trans Am 100 at Sebring International Raceway on Sunday, as the veteran driver held off a record-setting 69-car field that included the likes of RJ Lopez, Simon Gregg and defending champion Doug Peterson.
Ruman, who started her No. 23 Corvette on pole, lost the lead to Lopez on lap 10 but faded shortly after, handing the top spot back. From there, she was en route to her sixth career victory.
Peterson came home second overall, followed by Paul Fix in third, who made it a Corvette sweep of the podium in the hard-fought, caution-filled race.
Defending class champion Cameron Lawrence claimed TA2 honors in his Mopar-sponsored Dodge Challenger. He captured his third consecutive win at Sebring, coming just one month after taking top GTD honors in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Race — 1. Amy Ruman (Corvette) 2. Doug Peterson (Corvette) 3. Paul Fix (Corvette).
John Dagys contributed to this report