McElrea Racing’s Matt Campbell and Geoff Emery have stunned the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia establishment, taking Sydney Motorsport Park by storm this weekend to become the first combination to win two Pro-Am races at the same event.
A strong first stint from Emery in today’s 34-lap race saw him hand his car over to Campbell placed well inside the top 10; the young Queenslander and new Porsche Carrera Cup championship leader wasting no time to move back to the front of the field to complete the weekend sweep in style.
Campbell even dealt with a two-lap dash to the line following a late Safety Car with ease, pulling away to win today’s race ahead of Nick McBride/Dylan Thomas and Shane Smollen/Nick Percat.
James Bergmuller and Garth Tander combined to win the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge round overall, ahead of Smollen/Percat and Tony Bates and David Reynolds.
“It was a perfect weekend for us and I couldn’t be happier,” Campbell said.
“I have to thank McElrea Racing for their effort and Geoff Emery for doing a flawless job all weekend – he was the class of the field of the Challenge drivers. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be up there today. He knew who was faster in the field and knew to let them by before handing the car back to me. He did a fantastic job in that sense.”
Campbell said it was satisfying to take a championship points lead into the next round, to be contested at Hidden Valley Raceway in mid-June.
“Making up a lot of points this weekend was great and we maximised a lot of points thanks to two race wins, so I couldn’t be happier.”
The experienced Emery had high praise for his talented young co-driver this weekend.
“We were quickest every session and we had the pace between the two of us and it rolled into the race. I just had to keep the thing alive for Matty to be honest, you roll over to let the pros though, keep up the pace and keep the Challenge guys behind and I did that job,” Emery explained.
“I loved driving with Matt. There’s a lot of pressure thinking of his championship, but he’s a really good kid and I think he’s going to go a long way in motorsport. When you overlay the data, given he’s not been doing it a long time, he’s very clever and he’s going to go places no doubt.”
Bergmuller’s maiden TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge round victory also came in a weekend where he lodged his best ever round and race finishes.
“It’s the first time I’ve won in the Challenge class. I’ve come close a couple of times but not quite got there so this is quite unexpected, to be honest,” Bergmuller said.
“We had a plan and stuck to it all weekend and we did what we had to do. We kept tweaking the car and stayed out of trouble. It builds on our momentum and I told (class leader) Tony Bates on the podium that it won’t be the first time this happens! We’re on our way now and have great momentum and I’m feeling great.”
Tander enjoyed his Carrera Cup debut, working closely with Bergmuller to help his championship campaign.
“Second overall, first in class and it was a successful weekend so you probably couldn’t ask for more,” Tander said.
“I was thinking about points all weekend – not so much this weekend but for the championship points for James and this weekend has been a successful one as far as that goes. It was lots of fun – the cars are great to drive, really challenging and those last few laps after the safety car with Percat, (Shane) van Gisbergen, myself, (David) Wall, it’s like an old Supercar race out there. It was great.”
Race two was another thriller, and began with David Reynolds taking an early lead, despite being penalised five seconds for rolling at the start.
The V8 Supercar ace was in the thick of the action for much of the race and ultimately helped Bates to third in the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge round results, with Bates’ still leading the class standings.
Shane van Gisbergen was again a star performer, storming his way to fourth place at the finish after inheriting his Scott Taylor Motorsport Porsche well outside the top-10 when he commenced his stint.
A brief Safety Car interruption late in the race came when young Sydney driver James Abela came together with Jake Camilleri at turn three, Abela’s car ending parked on the fence just prior to turn four.
It was the only Safety Car interruption in an otherwise clean weekend for the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia field.
The championship will now enjoy a well-earned six-week break before reconvening at Darwin’s Hidden Valley Raceway in mid-June.