GT racer Tony Bates has chosen the vehicle for his racing return, purchasing a Melbourne Performance Centre Audi R8 LMS GT3 to compete in a couple of different motorsport categories throughout 2018.
While Bates’ primary focus will be the Australian GT Championship, he will also participate in the opening round of the predominantly Asia-based Audi R8 LMS Cup at next weekend’s Adelaide 500.
The Adelaide race meeting will be Bates’ first competitive event since last July, when his Australian GT Championship campaign was cut short by an unfortunate accident on the streets of Townsville that hospitalised Bates and ended his 2017 season.
Since then, Bates has undergone surgery on both shoulders, and engaged in some intensive fitness training to prepare for his racing return. After testing his Audi at Winton last week, he says he is ready for a fighting comeback.
“I’ve been doing a lot of physical activity, especially bike-riding, to make sure I’m in tip-top shape for Adelaide next weekend,” Bates said.
“It was fantastic to be back behind the wheel of a race car at Winton last week. Melbourne Performance Centre are looking after the preparation and they’ve done a sensational job – I felt comfortable straight away and was able to set some fast times on old tyres.”
Bates is excited to be heading back to the Adelaide street circuit, a venue where he will be gunning for his fifth-straight round win following a clean-sweep of Carrera Cup victories from 2014-16, and outright first place in the Australian GT round last year.
“Adelaide has been a happy hunting ground for me, and I’m interested to see how the R8 LMS Cup will shake out,” Bates said.
“It’s an event exclusively for semi-pro drivers and there are a lot of competitors from overseas as well as Australia. Basically, we are representing ourselves and in a sense, Australia against other overseas drivers.
“The GT Championship will be very competitive this year. It’s shaping up to be a closely-fought season with a host of good drivers both Pro and Semi-Pro.”
Bates will be joined by long-time associate Daniel Gaunt for the twin-driver events.
Daniel will combine with me to race the Australian Grand Prix and the 3 endurance rounds – he brings a wealth of experience, and to race with such a close friend has added to the excitement of this year’s programme.”
Bates’ Audi R8 will be supported by Moveitnet, C-Tech Laser, KFC, Alternative Freight Services, Local Roadways and Bryant & Bryant.
Audi R8 LMS Cup Round 1 – Schedule
Thursday, 1 March
11:25 – Practice 1 (30 min)
14:30 – Practice 2 (30 min)
18:15 – Practice 3 (30 min)
Friday, 2 March
10:40 – Qualifying 1 (20 min)
15:15 – Qualifying 2 (20 min)
Saturday, 3 March
14:05 – Race 1 (20 laps)
Sunday, 4 March
10:55 – Race 2 (20 laps)
Australian GT Championship – 2018 Calendar
Round 1 – Australian Grand Prix, 22-25 March (sprint)
Round 2 – Tailem Bend, 14-15 April (endurance)
Round 3 – Sandown, 12-13 May (sprint)
Round 4 – Phillip Island, 1-2 June (endurance)
Round 5 – Sydney Motorsport Park, 4-5 August (sprint)
Round 6 – Hampton Downs, 13-14 October (endurance)