GWR Australia’s two Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia entries have experienced a mixed weekend in Round 3 of the series at Phillip Island, with the highlight being the Am class race victory for the Mike Sheargold/Garth Walden RAM Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 in Race 1.
After a solid opening stint from Sheargold, who started 18th on the grid, Walden jumped aboard just after a Safety Car period and worked his way inside the outright top 10 and up to third place in the Am class. Another Safety Car with just under 20 minutes to go enabled Walden to close right onto the tail of the race leaders and he quickly overtook Paul Stokell before applying the pressure to class leader Brad Schumacher.
After stalking Schumacher for a number of laps, Garth was finally able to slice his way through on the very last lap to take the class win and finish seventh outright, an overall gain of 11 positions.
Unfortunately, the team came crashing back to reality in Race 2 when some light contact on the opening lap punctured the Mercedes’ radiator, forcing Walden and Sheargold into retirement.
“Race 1 was really good – the Safety Cars worked to our advantage and I had a great battle with Brad Schumacher at the end,” Walden said.
“Race 2 was very unlucky. Normally the radiators in these cars are not prone to damage because they’re situated a fair way back from the front of the car, but the contact happened on exactly the wrong angle and punched a hole in it.
“Overall though, there are a lot of positives we can take out of the weekend – both Mike and myself achieved personal-best lap times in qualifying and our race pace was good.”
Despite the Race 2 DNF, Sheargold and Walden ended up fourth overall for the weekend in the Am class.
The team’s other car, the Hobson Motorsport Mercedes of Brett Hobson and Mike Bailey had a solid weekend, finishing 10th and 9th outright in both races and gaining positions from qualifying in each race.
“The previous round in Perth didn’t go to plan for Brett and Mike, but this weekend they definitely showed some improvement,” Walden said.
“Both drivers are continuing to work hard with the engineering group to tune the car to their liking and adapt their driving techniques to maximise its potential. The qualifying results weren’t what they were aiming for, but both drivers had decent race pace this weekend. Brett made some great overtaking moves and Mike’s race pace was very competitive, especially in Race 2.” The next round of GT World Challenge will be held at Sydney Motorsport Park, 28-30 July.