Tony Bates and Daniel Gaunt have been left counting the cost of a broken shock absorber, after a fourth-place finish in today’s Laser Plumbing and Electrical Hampton Downs 500 saw them narrowly missing the Australian Endurance Championship crown.
Starting 11th on the grid, Bates made rapid progress during his stint before the damper collapsed.
During one of the pit stops, the Audi Sport Customer Racing team attempted to diagnose the issue, but the extra seconds in pit lane cost Gaunt valuable track position.
In the closing stint, Gaunt overcame the KFC/Moveitnet/C-Tech Laser/B&B/Local Roadways Audi R8’s handling imbalance to chase down the cars ahead; in the end, he finished just two seconds behind the race-winning car, and only 0.4s off the podium.
The result saw Bates and Gaunt secure second in the Australian Endurance Championship, while Bates ended up sixth in the final Australian GT Championship standings.
“The time we lost in the pit stop definitely cost us a podium finish today, perhaps even a race win,” Bates said.
“Dan’s drive in the closing laps was absolutely storming – he was consistently the fastest car on track, even with the broken shock. We only needed to gain a couple more positions and we would have won the Endurance Championship, but there were a few critical corners where the damper problem was preventing him from making fast exits to set up overtaking moves.”
In a year where he scored race victories at Adelaide (Audi R8 LMS Cup), Sandown and Phillip Island, Bates said 2018 was a positive season overall.
“Our pace this season was competitive everywhere we went, and I felt like I was driving at my best in terms of maximising the potential of the car,” Bates said.
“There were some highlights, especially the Phillip Island 101 win, but also some moments where I endured some bad luck with mechanical problems.
“It’s been an enjoyable season, a lot of fun racing a purpose-built GT car around some great tracks. Congratulations to my good mate Geoff Emery on winning back-to-back Australian GT Championships, and to Max Twigg/Tony D’Alberto on winning the Australian Endurance Championship.”
AGT Championship Points
1. Geoff Emery – 1104
2. Liam Talbot – 1064
=3. Peter Hackett – 1041
=3. Fraser Ross – 1041
5. Steven Richards – 985
6. Tony Bates – 979
=7. Max Twigg – 880
=7. Tony D’Alberto – 880
9. Daniel Gaunt – 773
10. Scott Taylor – 739
AEC Championship Points
1. Tony D’Alberto/Max Twigg – 791
2. Tony Bates/Daniel Gaunt – 704
3. Steven Richards/Michael Almond – 688
4. Geoff Emery/Garth Tander – 641
5. Liam Talbot/John Martin – 578
6. Fraser Ross – 575
7. Peter Hackett – 538
8. Duvashen Padayachee – 510
9. Scott Taylor/Craig Baird – 452
10. Adrian Deitz/Cameron McConville – 443