Moveitnet/C-Tech Laser/B&B/Local Roadways Audi R8 driver Tony Bates is thrilled by the prospect of competing against some of the world’s most highly-rated drivers in this weekend’s Australian GT Championship opener at the Australian Grand Prix.
The weekend’s unique schedule consists of four races, with teams permitted to run either one or two drivers. For the twin-driver teams, the Pro-ranked driver will compete in Races 1 and 3, with the Am-ranked driver participating in Races 2 and 4.
Bates will share the Melbourne Performance Centre-prepared Audi with long-time friend and former driver coach Daniel Gaunt, who has a wealth of experience in sports car racing.
“This weekend’s format will showcase some of the world’s most spectacular GT cars on the Formula 1 stage, and it’s a credit to the appeal of the category that some superstars from overseas have decided to race in the event,” Bates said.
“It’s a good opportunity for Dan to accumulate some time in the car before he joins me for the long-distance races during the year, and it will also be a thrill for him to race head-to-head with some of the international Pro drivers who are making an appearance this weekend, like (three-time Le Mans 24 Hour winner) Marcel Fassler and (Formula 1 Grand Prix winner) Giancarlo Fisichella.”
Bates comes into the weekend full of confidence after a successful outing in the Audi R8 LMS Cup at the recent Adelaide 500, in which he scored a pole position and outright race victory. He says the European-style Albert Park circuit will suit the Audi.
“Albert Park is a very flowing track, with some high-speed corners where the Audi R8’s aero package will allow us to carry a lot of corner speed,” Bates said.
“The Melbourne Performance Centre team provided me with a brilliant setup all weekend in Adelaide, and this weekend will be a chance for Dan and myself to work with the MPC engineering group to come up with a suitable package for both of us.”
With the race format likely to produce a mixture of results across the weekend, Bates said consistency will be paramount.
“Because there are some extremely well-credentialed drivers in this weekend’s field, I’m not putting any pressure on Dan or myself to try and win the round – the most important thing is for us to come out of the race meeting with a solid bundle of points, and a podium finish would be an excellent result,” Bates concluded.
Australian GT Championship Round 1 – Schedule
Thursday, 22 March
11:50 – Driver 1 Qualifying (20 min)
15:20 – Driver 2 Qualifying (20 min)
18:00 – Race 1, Driver 1 (11 laps)
Friday, 23 March
10:45 – Race 2, Driver 2 (10 laps)
Saturday, 24 March
12:00 – Race 3, Driver 1 (11 laps)
Sunday, 25 March
12:00 – Race 4, Driver 2 (11 laps)