Tony Bates has secured his maiden Australian GT Championship round victory by winning the weekend’s third race at the Clipsal 500 today, in his Moveitnet/C-Tech Laser/Transtex/Bryant & Bryant Mercedes-AMG GT3 prepared by Eggleston Motorsport.
Today’s triumph, combined with Friday’s win and yesterday’s third-place finish, saw Bates taking overall honours ahead of Roger Lago, and claiming Mercedes’ first global win in GT racing for 2017.
Following his Carrera Challenge victories stretching back to 2014, Bates now has four consecutive national series round wins at the Adelaide street circuit, and has won 11 of his last 12 races at the venue.
In yesterday’s race, Bates slotted into third during the first couple of laps, and pitted as soon as the compulsory pit stop window opened on lap 10.
Once all pit stops were complete, he held third position behind the Lamborghini entries of Pete Major and Roger Lago, which he maintained through to the chequered flag.
Starting third on the grid for today’s final, Bates overtook Major off the line and set off in pursuit of Lago, before the race was red-flagged due to a major collision at the infamous Turn 8.
At the restart, Bates pitted almost immediately while Lago stayed on track; when Lago eventually took his compulsory pit stop, he rejoined just behind Bates and the two cars battled all the way to the chequered flag; the final margin was just 0.1s.
“This has been an amazing weekend and I’m going to enjoy the celebrations, because it’s rare to have a race meeting where everything goes so perfectly,” Bates said.
“I already had a soft spot for the Clipsal 500 before, but now I’ve fallen head over heels in love with this place – it’s been so good to me over the last four years.”
Bates paid tribute to his rival Lago, along with the Eggleston Motorsport team.
“Roger was very fast today – after he came out of the pits he was right on my tail and he kept the pressure on. Our cars had strengths and weaknesses in different areas, and it was very hard but fair racing. He definitely made me earn the win.
“Eggleston Motorsport were having a strong weekend with Paul Dumbrell winning the Dunlop Super2 Series round and they prepared me a sensational car, so I was determined to reward their efforts in the GT Championship as well.
“C-Tech Laser, Transtex and Bryant & Bryant have been part of the journey this weekend, and I thank them very much for their support.”
By virtue of his round win, Bates leads the Australian GT Championship outright ahead of the next round at the Australian Grand Prix, 23-26 March.
Round Results Summary
Race 1: 1st
Race 2: 3rd
Race 3: 1st
Australian GT Championship Top 10 Points – After Round 1
- Tony Bates – 189
- Roger Lago – 180
- Pete Major – 161
- Liam Talbot – 111
- Tony Walls – 92
- James Koundouris/Ash Walsh – 76
- Fraser Ross/Come Ledogar – 75
- Mark Griffith – 64
- Max Twigg – 57
- Geoff Emery/Kelvin Van Der Linde – 56