Talbot/Ross Win Wild Sydney Finale
The Shannons Audi of Liam Talbot/Fraser Ross stayed out of trouble to claim victory in the final Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia powered by AWS race at Sydney Motorsport Park.
Starting eighth, Ross had a front row seat to what was a chaotic opening the moment the red lights went out.
Max Hofer, starting fourth in the Jamec Racing Audi, got the jump on the front row of Jayden Ojeda and Richie Stanaway.
The Austrian attempted to dive to the inside of polesitter Ojeda, but drilled the rear of the Mercedes, forcing the Harrold’s Racing/Volante Rosso Motorsport entry to slew across the track into the side of Stanaway’s Triple Eight Race Engineering/JMR Mercedes.
As Hofer checked up, the sister Triple Eight Mercedes of Jamie Whincup speared into the rear of Hofer’s Audi, with the Jamec Racing Audi fortunate to escape without making heavy contact with the pit wall in front of the field.
Hofer would be given a five second time penalty for his role in the melee off the rolling start.
That wasn’t the end of the first lap drama as the field bunched up due to the chaos that had unfolded at the front of the pack.
David Russell launched down the inside of turn one in the MMotorsport Mercedes, and speared into the side of Garth Walden’s RAM Motorsport/GWR Australia Mercedes, with Paul Stokell taking evasive action in the KFC Audi, all three taking to the runoff.
Ojeda and Stanaway also made more contact as they went side by side through turn one, the resulting damage to the left rear of Stanaway’s car leading to the eventual retirement of the Stanaway/Prince Jefri Ibrahim entry.
After the wild opening, the race settled into a rhythm in the opening stint, with Ojeda establishing a comfortable pace at the head of the field.
Whincup was initially second, before Hofer had a lunge at turn five on lap four, with the Austrian chasing Ojeda for the balance of the opening stint.
Stokell was involved in more contact on lap eighteen, as he spun Mike Bailey’s Hobson Motorsport Mercedes after making a clumsy move at turn eight.
Ojeda continued to lead as the pit stop cycle began with twenty three minutes to go, with co-driver Ross Poulakis taking a six and a half second lead after the Jamec Racing Audi, now with Geoff Emery at the helm, took it’s five second penalty.
Prince Abu Bakar Ibrahim took over from Jamie Whincup in third, fifteen seconds behind the leader, with Talbot fourth in the Shannons Audi, twenty three seconds off the lead.
Talbot showed incredible pace in the Am portion of the race as he has done all season, lapping up to four seconds a lap quicker than the three cars ahead of him.
Talbot quickly got by Prince Abu Bakar Ibrahim for third, and got by Emery at turn six with ten minutes left in the race, making a great move at turn six on lap twenty eight.
Talbot then made short work of the gap to Poulakis’ Mercedes, and dived down the inside at turn one on lap thirty of an eventual thirty seven.
As Talbot established a hefty buffer over Poulakis, all eyes turned to the battle for third, as Geoff Emery and Prince Abu Bakar Ibrahim were locked in a great battle that went right down to the wire.
With five minutes to go, the battle nearly came to an abrupt end, as Theo Koundouris had a wild spin on the exit of turn one, and nearly collected both the Jamec Racing Audi and the Triple Eight Mercedes as they battled behind.
They both avoided the Supabarn Supermarket/Tigani Motorsport Mercedes, and Prince Abu Bakar Ibrahim made a clinical move at turn two on the penultimate lap to claim the final step on the podium.
The Shannons Audi of Talbot/Ross crossed the line with just over sixteen seconds in hand over the Harrold’s Racing/Volante Rosso Motorsport Mercedes of Poulakis/Ojeda, with the Triple Eight Mercedes of Prince Abu Bakar Ibrahim/Jamie Whincup rounding out the podium.
The top five was completed by the Emeruy/Hofer Audi for Jamec Racing, and the EMA Motorsport/The Bend Motorsport Park Porsche of Yasser Shahin/Garnet Patterson.
GT3 Am was won by the Schumacher Motorsport/Kelso Electrical Audi of Brad Schumacher in sixth outright, whilst Renee Gracie took out GT3 Trophy in her Only Fans Audi in thirteenth outright.
The Invitational KTM GT XBOW of David Crampton/Trent Harrison finished in sixteenth outright, ahead of the GT4 Mercedes of Mark Griffith, the final classified finisher.
The next round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia powered by AWS takes place at Queensland Raceway as part of Round Five of the Shannons SpeedSeries on August 11-13.