Statistically, he’s the best-performing driver at the City of Churches over the last five years, but Tony Bates knows he will have to work hard to add to his tally of race victories when he lines up for this weekend’s Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup round at the Superloop Adelaide 500.
Bates clean-swept the Carrera Cup Pro-Am races from 2014 to 2016, emerged victorious in the 2017 Australian GT Championship round (in a Mercedes AMG GT3) and won a race in last year’s LMS Cup round, giving him an enviable scorecard of 12 wins from his last 14 races at the venue.
While understandably pleased with his form at the circuit, Bates said it will be a challenge to extend the winning streak against some stiff competition.
“There’s no doubt I’ve had a terrific run at Adelaide recently, it’s a track where you have to mix aggression over the kerbs with a degree of controlled risk-taking, especially through Turn 8 – these factors suit my driving style,” Bates said.
“However, I’m expecting the competition to be fierce this weekend; I’ll be up against the best Am drivers from Asia and Australia who I’m sure will be all wanting to win as much as I do.
“Some of the drivers from Asia, like Andrew Haryanto, were fast last year and they’re only going to improve with their second visit to the track.”
Bates, who will again be supported by loyal supporters KFC, Moveitnet, C-Tech Laser, Bryant & Bryant, AFS and Local Roadways, tested his Audi R8 GT3 – still in 2018 spec – at Winton last week.
“Unlike every other car in the field, mine doesn’t yet have the 2019 upgrades as the parts did not land in time, but the Winton test was positive; the car remains a very strong package in both one-lap speed and over a longer race distance,” Bates said.
“I guess time will tell whether it’s an advantage or disadvantage to be in the only older-spec car for this round.”
The R8 LMS Cup, predominantly an Asian-based category, features a twin-round format, with a pair of qualifying sessions that each determine the starting positions for the two 20-lap races.
“Last year, we saw that overtaking was difficult because it was hard for cars to follow each other closely, so qualifying will be important,” Bates said.
Bates will announce his plans for the remainder of the 2019 season after Adelaide.
Audi R8 LMS Cup – Round 1 Schedule
Thursday, 28 February
11:25 – Practice 1 (30 min)
18:15 – Practice 2 (30 min)
Friday, 1 March
11:05 – Practice 3 (20 min)
15:35 – Qualifying 1 (20 min)
Saturday, 2 March
9:55 – Qualifying 2 (20 min)
13:20 – Race 1 (20 laps)
Sunday, 3 March
11:10 – Race 2 (20 laps)