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GT World Challenge Australia

Tander, Shahin Win Action-Packed Season Opener

Rains stays away as Audi and Mercedes fill first GTWC Australia podium at Phillip Island…

Photo: Daniel Kalisz

Garth Tander and Yasser Shahin claimed victory in an incident-filled season-opening Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia Powered by AWS race at Phillip Island.

Tander trumped to a 14-second win in the No. 777 The Bend Motorsport Park-backed Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo in Race 1 at the Victorian circuit on Saturday.

The threat of rain was ominous throughout the hour-long curtain-raiser, however, an odd sprinkle was as bad as it got.

Shahin started the No. 777 Audi and set up a comfortable lead for Tander to bring home the victory ahead of Jamie Whincup and Prince Jefri Ibrahim in the Triple Eight Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo.

Chaz Mostert in the No. 24 Bostik Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo he shares with Tony Bates made a last-lap pass on the Audi R8 LMS ultra of Brad Schumacher for third, while all the action kicked off behind.

The safety car was deployed in the early stages after a major crash for the older generation Aston Martin Vantage of Michael Bailey exiting Turn 3.

Bailey skated off on the inside of the circuit all on his own and impacted the earth-bank sideways, with a lengthy recovery needed.

At the same time, a number of other cars had incidents of their own, with the Ferrari 488 GT3 of Adrian Deitz stopping on track after clipping the spinning Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Andrew MacPherson on the opening lap.

Tony Quinn and Gary Higgon made contact, with the latter limping back to the garage with damage and Quinn dropping to the back of the field.

When green flag racing resumed Shahin opened up a comfortable lead before the mandatory pit stop window opened and a flurry of cars came in.

A problem entering the pit lane with the speed-limiter for Stephen Grove saw the pit entry blocked for almost half a minute as both the No. 24 Bostik Audi and Triple Eight Mercedes were held up.

Stephen handed over the No. 4 Porsche 911 GT3 R to son Brenton, with the car emerging 15th as a result of the pit-limiter dramas before losing more time in another off-track excursion.

Tander took over the No. 777 Audi in the lead ahead of Matt Stoupas who dropped down the order.

Whincup/Ibrahim were 14 seconds back in second position followed by Mostert/Bates, Schumacher, and Stoupas who completed the top five.

Grove Motorsport recovered to sixth after their mishap entering the pits.

Wayne Mack had a heavy crash on the final lap in his Ferrari 458 GT3, clouting the pit wall on the exit of the final corner and coming to rest on the main straight with significant damage.

The second and final GTWC Australia race of the weekend gets underway Sunday at 11:50 a.m. local time (Saturday, 7:50 p.m. ET) with live coverage on SRO’s GT World YouTube page.

Slade Perrins is an Australian-based reporter for Sportscar365. Perrins won the 2019 Virgin Australia Supercars 'Young Gun Award' for journalism for his work with

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