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Epic Finale Concludes Successful Opener At The Bend
Author, Daniel Jordan

An epic young gun battle and a worthy Pro-Am winner highlighted the conclusion of the Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge Australia round at The Bend Motorsport Park.

After Cooper Murray and Max Vidau each claimed a race win across the opening two races, the third race saw the duo dice for the lead in an amazing display of driver talent. It was Vidau, however, who was the best of the 16-year-olds, claiming the outright and Pro class victory for the first round of the 2018 season.

Jimmy Vernon claimed his best result of the weekend in third place from Simon Fallon, who placed third for the round. Luis Leeds had a horror final race, having to visit pitlane with technical dramas, though still managed to snare fourth place in the Pro class for the round from Vernon, Chelsea Angelo and Dan Day.

After previously racing against Murray in Formula Ford, Vidau was thrilled to get the edge at the season opening round.

“There are many quality drivers in the series this year and after Thursday’s test I was nervous that I might not be quick enough, but I managed to pull it together on Saturday and Sunday and get the round win,” said Vidau.

“Cooper and I raced in Formula Ford last year; we know each other and we know how each other drive so it was great to have such close racing with him in the Porsche this weekend.”

Another highlight for the opening round was the Pro-Am battle and, more specifically, the victory of Sam Shahin at the circuit he founded. Two second places and a first place handed Shahin the round victory ahead of Danny Stutterd and Ben Stack to place the South Australian on the top step of his own podium.

“What a moment! I had a moment in the last three laps of the race as you come around turn 14 and you see the pit building and the hordes of people on the balconies with cameras flashing. What a sight. It is genuinely a surreal feeling,” said Shahin.

“What an absolute relief, I’m absolutely thrilled. I’ve seen a lot of people with smiles on their faces and I’ve seen some very proud and grateful racing car drivers and this is what we wanted to see. I’m glad we are contributing in a small way to the great history of Australian motorsport.”

Michael Hovey finished just one place shy of a Pro-Am podium position, finishing fourth for the round from Brett Boulton, Rob Woods and Marcel Zalloua in seventh in the Pro-Am class.

Richard Bloomfield was the best of the Class B performers across the opening round. Bloomfield won the opening two races in Class B before placing second to Christian Pancione in the final race to take the class round win from Pancione and Tom Taplin. Emanuel Palyaris placed fourth for the round in Class B ahead of Adrian Lengkeek, Phil Morriss and Andrew Goldie, who sustained event ending damage in race two.

For all race results from The Bend Motorsport Park, visit the series website at: https://www.gt3cupchallenge.com.au/results/

Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge Australia returns for round two at Sandown Raceway on May 11-13, 2018.