Nick Foster has taken victory in a scintillating opening Porsche Carrera Cup Australia race among some new faces at the front while Shane Smollen continued his TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge class dominance in Townsville.
TAG Heuer Pole-sitter David Russell led from the start of the 20 lap race and remained at the front in the opening laps, holding off Duvashen Padayachee in the early stages of the race before Foster came through from fourth on the grid to take the race lead on lap 13.
Russell was demoted to third on the same lap by Richard Muscat, who qualified sixth, posting the fastest lap of the race on his charge to the front.
Muscat then put pressure on Foster for the lead but couldn’t stop the Queensland based driver from taking his second consecutive race win in the championship.
“It was always going to be a big ask from fourth but we had the pace and it showed. As soon as we got towards the front my pace came on. It was a big gap to close to Russell when I passed Padayachee, but I was able to slip past and then maintain the gap to Richard. It’s great to see some fresh faces up the front,” said Foster.
“It’s really good for the team; a couple of wins on the trot will hopefully bring us back into the championship.”
Matt Campbell, who started alongside Russell on the front row, finished the race in fourth from points leaders Craig Baird and Steven Richards, Michael Almond, Simon Hodge and Padayachee, who dropped to ninth by the finish after a spectacular start to the race.
John Martin placed 10th in his Carrera Cup debut from Fraser Ross and TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge race winner Shane Smollen in 11th, who finished 4.5secs clear of his nearest class rival, Stephen Grove.
“I’m happy to consolidate after topping the previous three sessions. It was really about getting a good start and, ideally, hanging onto the pros, which I did for a few laps. After that I had clear track both in front and behind so it was all about keeping my concentration. I managed to do that and obviously took the class win,” said Smollen.
James Bergmuller finished 14th from Marc Cini, Ash Samadi, Scott Taylor and Adrian Mastronardo, who came together with Tony Bates mid-race, ending the latter’s race prematurely.
Richards now holds a 64.5 point lead in the standings from Baird, with Nick McBride dropping to third after damage sustained in a qualifying crash could not be fixed by the race one start.
Smollen has extended his TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge lead to 11 points to Grove, while Bates’s DNF has dropped him to 81.5 points from the class lead.
Saturday’s earlier qualifying session was red flagged after Roger Lago made contact with the barrier. The Queensland based racer was taken to the circuit’s Medical Centre and then to Townsville Hospital for observation and further checks, from where he has since been discharged.
Porsche Carrera Cup Australia will hold its final two races on the Townsville weekend on Sunday.
Race 1 results
1. #777 Nick Foster (Bob Jane T-Marts) Professional – 20 laps, 25:18.7236s
2. #22 Richard Muscat (Wilson Security/PAYCE/Genis Steel) Pro – 20 laps, 25:19.1885s
3. #10 David Russell (Finanze Ezi) Professional – 20 laps, 25:20.0825s
4. #7 Matt Campbell (Phase 8) Professional – 20 laps, 25:21.6336s
5. #8 Craig Baird (Porsche Centre Melbourne) Professional – 20 laps, 25:22.1475s
6. #1 Steven Richards (Laser Plumbing & Electrical) Professional – 20 laps, 25:22.5349s
7. #26 Michael Almond (Copyworld) Professional – 20 laps, 25:26.0325s
8. #11 Simon Hodge (Team BRM) Professional – 20 laps, 25:29.2582s
9. #45 Duvashen Padayachee (Darrell Lea Stix) Professional – 20 laps, 25:30.7392s
10. #25 John Martin (Copyworld) Professional – 20 laps, 25:32.4530s
11. #65 Fraser Ross (Porsche Centre Brighton) Professional – 20 laps, 25:34.9413s
12. #56 Shane Smollen (McGrath Estate Agents) TAG Heuer Challenge – 20 laps, 25:50.3469s
13. #4 Stephen Grove (Grove Group) TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge – 20 laps, 25:54.9888s
14. #13 James Bergmuller (MotorOne Car Care) TAG Heuer Challenge – 20 laps, 25:55.5453s
15. #9 Marc Cini (Hallmarc) TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge – 20 laps, 26:04.2033s
16. #6 Ash Samadi (Apartment Hotel) TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge – 20 laps, 26:16.0002s
17. #222 Scott Taylor (Scott Taylor Motorsport) TAG Heuer Challenge – 20 laps, 26:16.9256s
18. #39 Adrian Mastronardo (Veritas) TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge – 20 laps, 26:45.5684s
DNF #24 Tony Bates (AFS / TOP CAT Video Prod.) TAG Heuer Challenge – 11 laps, 14:41.1682s