Australian GT Championship leader Tony Bates says it will be a rewarding challenge to maintain his points advantage at this weekend’s second round of the championship at the Australian Grand Prix.
In his very first race meeting aboard the Eggleston Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 supported by Moveitnet, C-Tech Laser, Transtex and Bryant & Bryant at the Clipsal 500 three weeks ago, Bates won two of the three races to clinch the overall round victory and current position atop the standings.
“When I decided to race in the GT Championship, I wasn’t really thinking about the title – it was more about racing an amazing car at some of the country’s best race tracks and testing my abilities against some very skilled drivers,” Bates said.
“I’m going into the Grand Prix with exactly the same mindset, to relax and enjoy the experience, because that approach seems to bring out the best in my driving.”
This weekend’s round will feature a unique format, thanks to the GT regulations in which drivers can either race solo, or be joined by a professional co-driver.
Four races will be held – for the teams with two drivers, the “Pro” driver will compete in Races 1 and 3 while the “Am” driver will compete in Races 2 and 4. Solo drivers, including Bates, will compete in all four races, and Races 2 and 4 have a heavier points weighting than Races 1 and 3.
“This year’s format reduces the confusion from last year where they applied time penalties after the race,” Bates said.
“This year, it’s a lot easier for the fans to understand – whoever crosses the line first will be the winner.
“I’m looking forward to going head-to-head with some of the Pros in Races 1 and 3, but also contending for outright victory in Races 2 and 4.”
Bates said the Australian Grand Prix has long been one of his favourite events to race at.
“Driving past the Formula 1 pits is a thrill, and there’s always a good crowd with a lot of high-profile guests.
“Hopefully I can deliver the same sort of result for Mercedes in the GT Championship as the results they’ve been achieving in Formula 1 the last few years!” Bates concluded.
Race 3 on Saturday will be broadcast LIVE on Channel 10 as part of the Australian Grand Prix coverage – updates from other races will be posted on the Tony Bates Racing Facebook page throughout the weekend.
Australian GT Championship Round 2 – schedule
Thursday, 23 March
11:50 – Qualifying 1 (20 min)
14:05 – Qualifying 2 (20 min)
15:40 – Race 1 (25 min)
Friday, 24 March
10:45 – Race 2 (25 min)
Saturday, 25 March
12:05 – Race 3 (25 min)
Sunday, 26 March
11:30 – Race 4 (25 min)