Liam Talbot has capped off Round 2 of the CAMS Australian GT Championship with a stunning victory in Albert Park.
A string of consistent performances set up Talbot across the event’s opening three days, while clever use of his Pirelli tires by the Mega Racing driver paid dividends in the final race of the weekend.
Having started fourth in his Porsche 911 GT3 R, Talbot made his play for the lead midway around the third lap with an brilliant move on polesitter Roger Lago.
Gaining good traction through Turn 9, Talbot had the momentum to draw alongside, racing side-by-side through Turn 11 before Lago was finally forced to cede the position.
The door-to-door action wasn’t over there, with Max Twigg then launching an attack on Lago as they raced into Turn 13, taking the position.
The result marked Talbot’s second Australian GT victory, his first as a solo driver, and his first since 2013.
“I knew that we had the pace,” Talbot beamed. “We saved everything for the last race because of the big points.
“I don’t really know what happened on that restart. Roger struggled and I had a massive opportunity with Max Twigg. We were then mowing down Roger, and I was just wondering where we could get him.
“Roger has done a great job all weekend, and all year, so I knew I was in for a challenge. Ultimately our tire selection was the crucial difference there.”
An incident on the opening lap saw Fraser Ross drop down the order, before a strong recovery drive meant the Tekno Autosports McLaren 650S GT3 climbed back to 15th in the eight lap encounter.
Two corners later, the congested 28-car field saw Peter Major run out of room, dropping a wheel off the circuit which and saw him make contact with the luckless Hector Lester, as the incident drew the first safety car of the weekend.
In the early exchanges Pirelli/Trofeo Motorsport driver Ryan Millier made great strides forward to sit four after starting ninth, only for a mechanical issue to force the Lamborghini to skate off track at Turn 1, drawing the safety car for a second time.
Race 2 polesitter Max Twigg, in the Australian Engineered Flooring Mercedes-AMG GT3, claimed second place behind Talbot and netting victory in the Gold Driver Cup for the weekend.
Geoff Emery rounded out the podium in the Valvoline Audi R8 LMS, he and co-driver Kelvin van der Linde taking out the round courtesy of strong results in all four races.
The points haul sees the duo move into fourth in the Australian GT Championship, which is now led by Lago in the JBS Australia Lamborghini R-EX.
Lago and co-driver David Russell were strong contenders across all four races, their weekend’s efforts rewarded with Lago leaping to the top of the Championship standings, and second overall for the weekend.
Victory for Talbot in the finale saw the Walkinshaw GT3 driver take third for the round, a mighty effort for the solo racer, and record the team’s first Australian GT race win.
“To stand on my own two feet without a Pro driver in this format, which is very tough, I couldn’t thank the team enough,” said Talbot. “They did a great job; it’s a real team effort.”
The Invitational Class was dominated by Wayne Mack aboard the Mack Roofing Products Ferrari 458 ahead of Matthew Turnbull (Fire Rating Solutions Lamborghini Gallardo) and Michael O’Donnell (Shoal/Thomson Geer Lawyers Porsche GT3 Cup Car).
Meanwhile, Kelvin van der Linde won the third race of the weekend in his Valvoline Audi R8 LMS from pole position.
This put him two-for-two having taken the Race 1 victory following several amendments to the results.
The four rounds were split between drivers at Albert Park, with two-driver teams fielding their first driver in Races 1 and 3, and the second driver in Races 2 and 4.