German ace Christopher Mies has moved into the box seat to claim the 2015 Australian GT Championship Presented by Pirelli after he and co-driver Ryan Millier claimed victory today in the final race of Round 5 at Sandown.
Mies and Millier won Race 2 by just 1.0188-seconds from a fast-finishing Morgan Haber in his Erebus Motorsport Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS GT3.
The race win – the second for the Mies/Millier combination since it debuted in the last round in Sydney – helped the Audi duo claim the overall round victory.
It was their second straight round win given they also won the last round of the Australian GT Championship at Sydney Motorsport Park in late-August.
Mies has now won three of this year’s five Australian GT rounds – he also won the Phillip Island 101 in May with Tasmanian Greg Crick.
The round win was the fourth for Audi this year given Nathan Antunes won the opening round in Adelaide.
The only non-Audi round win this year came in Townsville with Tony D’Alberto/Grant Denyer winning in their Maranello Motorsport Ferrari 458 GT3.
Mies entered today’s race with an 11-point advantage in the championship race and will head to the final round in New Zealand with a bolstered 65-point advantage.
There will be 165 points available to be scored in qualifying and the two races at Highlands Motorsport Park, so the championship is a long way from being sorted.
Importantly for Mies, his main title rival Antunes finished ninth today after receiving a pit lane penalty for speeding in pit lane during his compulsory pit stop.
Antunes now sits second in the championship, 19 points in front of Grant Denyer.
Antunes wasn’t the only one penalised for too much pace in the pit lane today either – McLaren pilot Tony Quinn received a drive through penalty for speeding and received a second penalty for speeding while taking his first penalty!
Quinn, who eventually finished 11th, had emerged as the leader of the race after the compulsory pit stop window closed, however his initial penalty handed the lead to the Audi of Miller and the Victorian brought home the JAMEC PEM Audi R8 LMS Ultra in front.
Lamborghini duo Elliot Barbour and Glen Wood finished an impressive third behind Haber’s Mercedes, the two young Victorians starring after suffering a flat tyre in Race 1 that blunted their charge.
Haber, meanwhile, added today’s second place to a second place in Race 1, the combined results enough to give him third overall for the weekend and his first AGT podium result.
Haber finished just three points shy of round victory and just one short of finishing runner-up in what was an extremely tight weekend of racing at Sandown.
Race 1 winners Grant Denyer and Tony D’Alberto finished fourth today after starting on pole position, the Ferrari duo unable to overcome their compulsory pit stop time to hunt down the cars that emerged from their stops in front of them.
They finished in front of the similar Ferrari of Jono Lester and Graeme Smyth with Lester setting a new Australian GT lap record of 1m08.5659s on lap nine.
The Trass Family Ferrari had finished second in Race 1 on Saturday, however it received a post-race 26-second penalty for Lester being over the line prior to its compulsory pit stop – all crew members, including the incoming driver must remain behind the line before the car comes to a standstill.
The penalty dropped the 458 GT3 of Lester and Smyth from finishing second on the road to eighth in the final results and elevated Haber to second place in Race 1.
The result of Denyer/D’Alberto gave them second overall for the round; just two points shy of claiming overall round victory, while Lester/Smyth finished fourth overall.
Klark Quinn’s McLaren was sixth today clear of the Porsche of Andrew MacPherson/Bradley Shiels and the impressive second Erebus Mercedes of Geoff Emery and Max Twigg. Twigg started from the rear of the 29-car field after the duo’s SLS AMG GT3 racer failed to start yesterday’s race with a flat battery.
Antunes and Tony Walls (Objective McLaren 650S) rounded out the top 10 with 13 cars finishing on the lead lap in the hour-long race.
Again, as in yesterday’s first race, the hour of on-track competition passed without a Safety Car period as the Australian GT cars kicked off a big day of racing at the V8 Supercars Sandown 500 under clear blue skies.
Wall Racing enjoyed a great day in the Trophy Class and Challenge Class respectively, Greg Taylor/Barton Mawer (Audi R8 LMS) leading home the Porsches of Theo Koundouris and Simon Ellingham/Jaxon Evans in Trophy Class, though Koundouris claimed overall round victory for his weekend’s work. Taylor/Mawer were second for the round from Ellingham/Evans.
The Porsche GT3 Cup Car of Richard Gartner claimed the Challenge class in today’s race, Gartner’s task made easier by the fact that neither of his Challenge class competitors – Michael O’Donnell (Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge) and Tony Alford (Nissan GT-R) – finished the 49-lap race. Therefore Gartner easily won the round in Challenge class for the weekend.
The final round of the Australian GT Championship Presented by Pirelli will be held at Highlands Motorsport Park in New Zealand on November 13-14.