Published on July 17th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


Audi Sport Customer Racing Australia, Victory again on the streets of Townsville


Coming into the third round of the Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli, the Audi Sport customer racing Australia Team knew that they were in for a tough weekend, not the least because they were leading both the outright GT3 and Trophy Class championships.

Townsville proved 12-months ago to be a tough venue to tame, the technical street circuit claimed more than its fair share of victims including two Audi R8s, something which the Audi teams were hoping to avoid this year – fortunately for the six competing teams they emerged not only unscathed, but with a number of trophies and two cars in the top three in both outright and Trophy Class points.

Audi’s Nurburgring 24-Hour star Christopher Mies came into Townsville as the outright championship points leader, and despite not having competed on the demanding street circuit previously, the Jamec Pem Racing driver quickly adapted to the 13-turn 2.85-kilometre layout, going fastest in the only official practice session. Ultimately though his plans for pole position were thwarted by New Zealander Jono Lester who claimed his third successive pole position, defeating the talented German by less than five one hundredths of a second in Q2.


Opening qualifying saw Clipsal round winner Nathan Antunes right in the mix in the Skwirk/Beechwood Audi R8, the title contender in a battle with V8 Supercar part-timers Tony D’Alberto and Steve Owen, ultimately claiming third on the grid for the opening race, the two time 2015 race winner backing up in session two, to qualify immediately behind team-mate Mies to put the position out of question.

Campaigning the #75 Jamec Pem Audi alone at Townsville, team-boss Steve McLaughlan too set some solid laps to closely shadow team-mate Greg Crick and Peter Fitzgerald in Q1, and qualify marginally ahead of Fitzgerald overall, whilst in the battle for Trophy Class honours, both the Greg Taylor/Barton Mawer and Mark Griffith cars were right in the thick of the action.

Despite having never seen the Townsville venue previously, Mawer was blisteringly quick in the Adina Apartments LMS GT3 he shares with Taylor, setting the ninth fastest time in Q2, to be classified tenth after the two sessions, ahead of many of the faster outright cars, and more than a second and a half up on the Trophy Class field.


Pole-sitter Lester set a blistering pace off the start in the opening race with Antunes quickly into second, the Audi driver holding station early before D’Alberto charged through just prior to a Safety Car intervention on lap seven to remove the McMillan Camaro.

The Safety Car arrived just prior to the compulsory pit stop [CPS] window opening, with Antunes one of the first to dive in for his stop after the restart, however his extensive pit stop time penalty (courtesy of his driver ranking and qualifying position), saw him stationary for just under two minutes, dropping him to 25th position as his rivals began making their stops.

Behind Antunes, Greg Crick was holding station comfortably inside the top ten, eventually moving into third before handing over to the German star, whilst their Jamec Pem team-mate kept pushing forward to pit from fourth.

Behind the trio, Peter Fitzgerald was having a relatively untroubled time, running towards the tail of the top ten with Barton Mawer in the Adina Apartments Audi just ahead of him, the former open-wheel star handing Greg Taylor the car from fifth position. Mark Griffith too was managing to stay out of trouble in the busy midfield, the former GT4 class champion pitting behind Antunes early in the CPS window to break out of the pack.

Ultimately the Hog’s Breath Café Audi forged forward to be classified 18th and third in class at the flag to claim more valuable points, whilst the Mawer/Taylor combination were classified fourth in class after their lengthy pit stop penalty that reflected Mawer’s driver grading and their outstanding qualifying position.

Up front both Antunes and Mies charged across the closing laps, the German driver ultimately working his way from 20th to ninth, taking team-mate Steve McLaughlan on the final lap, in the process setting the fastest lap of the race.AGT_Townsville_Mies_R2_120715_mpix_med

Antunes was able to move back onto the tail of the leaders, but was caught up in traffic over the closing laps, all but costing him a chance of a podium result, although three cars in the top nine was a good result for Audi, with the steady Peter Fitzgerald making it four in the top 12..

Race two saw Antunes make a stunning run from the second row to dive around the outside of Tony Quinn on the run into turn two after the McLaren driver closed the door on the Audi pilot as he looked for a run up the inside.

With race leader Grant Denyer making a strong run off pole position, Antunes settled into second, comfortable in the knowledge that the Ferrari pairing would incur a longer CPS penalty, so he conserved both car and tyres to wait for his chance to attack.

Behind him Christopher Mies was charging through the pack, ultimately catching the tail of the Tony Quinn McLaren on lap five, although he was forced to work for a way past, ultimately tagging the McLaren on the run into turn 11, tapping Quinn into a spin, then pushing past to continue on. Stewards ultimately penalised the Jamec Pem driver for the incident, forcing a drive through penalty a few laps later dropping him from third back to 12th.

From there it was relatively processional, with Antunes comfortably second, Mies recovering to work his way back into the top ten and the ever-present Steve McLaughlan not far behind his lead driver.

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Peter Fitzgerald’s consistent weekend came unstuck early with a deep run into turn three forcing him to go down the escape road, dropping him from the tail of the top ten to 32nd and last after being unable to find a clear gap to rejoin. From there he mounted an impressive recovery, but keen to ensure he finished his first event for the year without serious damage, he chose his passing moves with caution, ultimately working his way back to 14th at the flag.

Ahead of him the #74 team were forced to endure another long pit stop, dropping Crick back to 16th, whilst Antunes continued to punch out a sequence of quick laps to take over the lead once the #88 Ferrari had pitted, leaving his own CPS until the very last moments.

In the end he was able to rejoin almost ten seconds up on former V8 Supercar star D’Alberto, the two drivers battling hard before another Safety Car intervention to recover Kevin Weeks’ stranded Ford GT after it was spun by contact from the Erebus Mercedes. That allowed the field to close up, bringing D’Alberto close to the tail of Antunes, although with five lapped cars between them, there was a buffer.

With just a handful of laps to go, Antunes charged off the restart, ultimately charging away to take a comfortable victory, whilst behind him McLaughlan was rewarded with an impressive sixth, two spots up on Jamec Pem team-mate Greg Crick, with Fitzgerald 14th.

In the Trophy Class battle, a late race charge from Barton Mawer brought the Adina Apartments Audi back up to 16th, immediately behind Trophy Class title rival Mark Griffith, the two Audis finishing on the podium with Griffith a deserving second.

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Rnd#3 2015 Australian GT Championship

Townsville, Queensland (10-12 July)

Qualifying (combined): (10/11 July)

  1. Jono Lester/Graeme Smythe (Ferrari 458 Italia GT3) – 1:12.1179 [Q2]
  2. Christopher Mies/Greg Crick (Jamec-Pem Audi R8 LMS GT3 ultra) – 1:12.1639 [Q2]
  3. Nathan Antunes(Skwirk/Beechwood Audi R8 GT3 ultra) – 1:12.6556 [Q2]
  4. Bradley Shiels/Andrew Macpherson (Porsche GT3-R) – 1:12.8518 [Q2]
  5. Tony D’Alberto/Grant Denyer (Ferrari 458 Italia GT3) – 1:12.9519 [Q2]
  6. Klark Quinn (McLaren 650S GT3) – 1:12.9997 [Q2]
  7. John Magro (Lamborghini Gallardo FL2 GT3) – 1:13.2839 [Q2]
  8. Steve Owen/Kevin Weeks (Ford GT GT3) – 1:13.4001 [Q1]
  9. Geoff Emery/Max Twigg (Mercedes Benz SLS AMG GT3) – 1:13.7321 [Q2]
  10. Barton Mawer/Greg Taylor (Adina Apartments Audi R8 LMS GT3) – 1:13.8076 [Q2]
  11. Steven McLaughlan(Jamec-Pem Audi R8 LMS GT3 ultra) – 1:14.8002 [Q2]
  12. Peter Fitzgerald(EVA Racing/Evolve Technik Audi R8 LMS GT3 ultra) – 1:15.0235 [Q2]
  13. Mark Griffith(Hog’s Breath Audi R8 LMS GT3) – 1:15.5221 [Q2]

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Race#1 (60-minutes): (11 July)

  1. Tony D’Alberto/Grant Denyer (Ferrari 458 Italia GT3) – 46-laps
  2. Tony Quinn (McLaren 650S GT3)
  3. Max Twigg/Geoff Emery (Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3)
  4. Nathan Antunes(Skwirk/Beechwood Audi R8 GT3 ultra)
  5. James Koundouris (Porsche GT3-R)
  6. John Magro (Lamborghini Gallardo FL2 GT3)
  7. Jono Lester/Graeme Smythe (Ferrai 458 Italia GT3)
  8. Greg Crick/Christopher Mies(Audi R8 LMS GT3 ultra)
  9. Steven McLaughlan(Jamec-Pem Audi R8 LMS GT3 ultra)
  10. Klark Quinn (McLaren 650S GT3)
  11. Peter Fitzgerald(EVA Racing/Evolve Technik Audi R8 LMS GT3 ultra)
  12. Mark Griffith (Hog’s Breath Audi R8 LMS GT3) – 45-laps
  13. Greg Taylor/Barton Mawer (Adina Apartments Audi R8 LMS GT3)


Race#2 (60-minutes): (12 July)

  1. Nathan Antunes(Skwirk/Beechwood Audi R8 GT3 ultra) – 43-laps
  2. Tony D’Alberto/Grant Denyer (Ferrari 458 Italia GT3)
  3. Klark Quinn (McLaren 650S GT3)
  4. Tony Walls (McLaren 650S GT3)
  5. Tony Quinn (McLaren 650S GT3)
  6. Steven McLaughlan(Jamec-Pem Audi R8 LMS GT3 ultra)
  7. John Magro (Lamborghini Gallardo FL2 GT3)
  8. Christopher Mies/Greg Crick(Audi R8 LMS GT3 ultra)
  9. Andrew Macpherson/Brad Shiels (Porsche GT3-R)
  10. James Koundouris (Porsche GT3-R)
  11. Peter Fitzgerald(EVA Racing/Evolve Technik Audi R8 LMS GT3 ultra)
  12. Mark Griffith(Hog’s Breath Audi R8 LMS GT3)
  13. Barton Mawer/Greg Taylor(Adina Apartments Audi R8 LMS GT3)


2015 Australian GT Championship (points after round three of six)

GT Championship Class

  1. Tony Quinn (330-points), 2. Nathan Antunes(318), 3. Christopher Mies/Greg Crick(300), 4. Tony D’Alberto/Grant Denyer (236), 5. Klark Quinn (234), 6. Max Twigg/Geoff Emery (229), 7. Jono Lester (216), 8. James Koundouris (178), 9. Tony Walls (165), 10. Steven McLaughlan (150), 14. Steven Johnson (99), 17. Peter Fitzgerald (87), 28. Rod Salmon (38)

GT Trophy Class

  1. Greg Taylor/Barton Mawer(380-points), 2. Mark Griffith (349), 3. Theo Koundouris (344), 4. Jan Jinadasa (231), 5. Simon Ellingham (218)


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