Mike Sheargold and Garth Walden have taken the Am Class victory and seventh place outright in the GT World Challenge Australia 3 Hour, held at the Bathurst International today.
After qualifying ninth based on combined times from both drivers, Sheargold was installed in the RAM Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 for the race start. On a wet track, Sheargold drove a sensible and conservative opening stint, with lap times gradually improving as the track dried.
The team was the first to pit for slick tyres, with Walden taking the reins for the second stint and the team’s gamble on an early stop paid dividends, making a net gain of two positions once the first round of pit stops was complete.
Walden ran as high as fifth before handing the car back to Sheargold, who maintained the car’s position at the head of the Am Class before Walden returned to the driver’s seat for the run home.
“The first stint was a case of managing risk versus reward – the track was drying very quickly but I still had to be cautious, because it was damp off the racing line,” Sheargold said.
“Because of Garth’s great second stint, by the time I got back in the car for my next stint, there was a decent buffer back to the next car so all I needed to do was circulate and punch out consistent laps.”
Team owner Walden was pleased with the outcome.
“We struggled a bit with rear grip in my first stint because the car wasn’t looking after its tyres very well, but we made a change for the last stint and it was vastly improved,” Walden said.
“It was really nice to drive, probably the most comfortable I’ve ever felt at the Mountain.”
In addition to the GT 3 Hour, GWR was also running cars in the Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge, Australian Prototype Series and Australian Production Car races.
In the Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge, Indiran Padayachee improved from 17th on the grid to 14th in Race 1, and came home 15th in Race 3. Unfortunately, a collision with another competitor shortly after the start of Race 3 knocked Padyachee into the wall on the approach to Hell Corner, ending his weekend. Nevertheless, he has maintained fifth in the Pro-Am standings ahead of the final round at Phillip Island in a fortnight.
Steve Roberts made a fine debut at Mount Panorama in the Australian Prototype Series, driving his Radical SR8.
In a wet qualifying session, Roberts qualified eighth and finished inside the top 10 in all three races. The last race was particularly dramatic – a mid-race shower of rain necessitated a quick tyre change by the GWR crew, but they did it in time for Roberts to return to the track and take the chequered flag in ninth position.
The final GWR entry was Ben Kavich’s BMW M2 in the Australian Production Car Series races; Kavich qualified 12th and finished 10th in Race 1; Race 2 ran entirely behind the Safety Car due to foggy conditions on top of the Mountain, and Kavich retired from Races 2 and 3.