Reigning Australian Carrera Cup Challenge Champion Tony Bates has opted for a change of scenery in 2017, and will contest the Australian GT Championship in an Eggleston Motorsport-prepared Mercedes Benz AMG GT3.
While it will be Bates’ first full-time season in the category, he is no stranger to GT cars, having driven an Audi R8 at selected events last year, along with an Aston Martin at the Bathurst 12 Hour.
“Carrera Cup is a great category and I will miss competing in the one-make class this year, however some underlying factors have led me to look to the Australia GT sprint championship this year which I am very excited about,” Bates said.
Having had his first taste of Eggleston Motorsport’s latest Mercedes GT3-spec weapon in a test at Winton, he was immediately impressed.
“A few people told me the Mercedes was an incredible car so I had to try it for myself, but now I can see what they’re talking about,” Bates said.
“All GT cars are impressive but this one is awesome – It has all the assets that you look for in a true race car.
“The Eggleston Motorsport team is an extremely professional outfit, as reflected by their success in V8 Development Series and other categories they have been involved in, so it’s a pleasure to be associated with them this season.”
Bates said that even after achieving his objective of winning a national title last season, he is still as determined for success as ever before.
“I want to do the absolute best I can for my sponsors, followers and team, and for sure I intend to be fighting for podium finishes in every race,” Bates said.
“With 27 cars entered for Clipsal, it shows that a podium in the GT Championship will be no easy feat. One of the best things about the GT Championship is the mixture of professional and amateur drivers – there are some terrific competitors and I’m looking forward to seeing how I stack up.
The GT Championship commences at this weekend’s Clipsal 500, and the Adelaide street circuit is a venue where Bates has enjoyed a dominant run of results in the recent past.
“I’ve won the last nine races I’ve competed in at Clipsal in Carrera Cup – not sure if I’ll be able to keep the streak going, but I’ll be giving it my best shot,” Bates concluded.
Australian GT Championship Round 1 – schedule
Thursday, 2 March
10:45 – Practice (20 min)
13:40 – Qualifying 1 (20 min)
16:45 – Qualifying 2 (20 min)
Friday, 3 March
10:35 – Race 1 (40 min)
Saturday, 4 March
9:10 – Race 2 (40 min)
Sunday, 5 March
9:55 – Race 3 (40 min)