KFC/Moveitnet/C-Tech Laser/B&B/Local Roadways Audi R8 driver Tony Bates is hoping his strong 2018 endurance racing form continues at this weekend’s Laser Plumbing and Electrical Hampton Downs 500 in New Zealand.
The event doubles as the final round of both the Australian GT Championship and the Australian Endurance Championship. While Bates is a chance for the prestigious Australian GT title, he and co-driver Daniel Gaunt are also well in contention for the Endurance crown, following their outright victory in June’s Phillip Island 101, which elevated them to third in the standings.
Bates said the endurance format has played to the team and driver strengths this year.
“Dan and I are a well-matched combination, and we enjoy working together,” Bates said.
“I’m also very pleased to have secured the services of (Tickford Racing Supercars team engineer) Adam De Borre for this weekend.
“Adam engineered our car at both the Tailem Bend (fourth) and Phillip Island (first) endurance races, and he is very astute when it comes to making the right strategic decisions in the heat of battle – his input was a big factor in our Phillip Island victory.
“I’ve raced at Hampton Downs in an Audi before and I enjoy the circuit, so we’re all really looking forward to giving it a big crack this weekend and hopefully repeating our Phillip Island result. There are plenty of strong combinations though, so it won’t be easy.”
This weekend’s event features a unique format, with a pair of timed qualifying sessions and a 30-lap qualifying race on Saturday, with a compulsory pit stop.
As well as determining grid positions for Sunday’s 101-lap marathon, the qualifying race also awards points with 20 on offer for the winner.
“Doing well in the qualifying race will be important; with the championship as close as it is, every point is extremely valuable,” Bates said.
“As we showed at Phillip Island, pole is not essential but you want to be somewhere inside the top five, so you can race among the lead pack in the early stages, and then use smart strategy to contend for the win.”
Australian GT Championship Round 6 – Schedule
New Zealand time
Friday, 12 October
3:00pm – Practice (60 min)
Saturday, 13 October
9:30am – Pre-Qualifying 1 (20 min)
10:00am – Pre-Qualifying 2 (20 min)
3:00pm – Qualifying Race (30 laps)
Sunday, 14 October
9:55am – Warm-up (20 min)
2:05pm – Hampton Downs 500 (101 laps)