New entries set to add spice at The Bend Motorsport Park this weekend
It’s the penultimate round of the sprint component of Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia powered by AWS, but new and returning entries are sure to shake up the established runners battling for the title.
Currently, reigning series winner Yasser Shahin holds a 20-point advantage in his Melbourne Performance Centre Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II from the similarly mounted Liam Talbot.
Shahin will again partner with Garth Tander following his fifth Bathurst 1000 victory, while Talbot continues his successful co-driver partnership with Fraser Ross in an Audi featuring a new livery.
Lying just four-points in arrears of the Talbot and Fraser combination is Prince Jefri Ibrahim, who will be joined by super-sub Broc Feeney as replacement to recent Bathurst winner Shane van Gisbergen. It comes as Triple Eight Race Engineering doubles its efforts with seven-time Supercars champion Jamie Whincup teams with Ibrahim’s brother Prince Abu Bakar in a second Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Adding spice to the Pro-Am battle will be the Wall Racing-prepared Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of owner-driver Adrian Deitz to share alongside current Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series points leader Tony D’Alberto.
The KFC-supported Audi of Gary Higgon and Paul Stokell hold a large 44-point advantage back to teammate Matt Stoupas in the Am Class, but the team to watch will be RAM Motorsport in its Mercedes-AMG GT3 after it recently tested at the venue.
Michael Shreargold and Garth Walden also took the inaugural Harrolds Pole Award at Sandown in Am Class, as the pair aim to climb up the standings where they currently sit second.
After Peter Hackett withdrew at Sandown, Ross Poulakis in the Harrolds Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 excelled in the wet conditions to drive solo and secure Am Class victory in Race 1. After graduating from GT4, Poulakis continues to improve at each round.
GT Trophy continues the theme of Mercedes-AMG versus Audi this year as Michael Kokkinos returns in his Audi R8 LMS GT3 Ultra after his debut at Queensland Raceway.
Kokkinos will battle a debutant in the form of Valmont Racing in its Mercedes-AMG GT3 to be driven by business partners Marcel Zalloua and Sergio Pires prepared by Tigani Motorsport.
The closest battle of all is in GT4 as just four-points separate Mark Griffith and Sam Brabham at the top of the standings.
Forming the second entry for Harrolds Volante Rosso Racing, Brabham will again team with Christos Batios.
Action kicks off on Friday with two 30-minute practice sessions at 10:20am (10:50am AEDT) and 2:05pm (2:35pm AEDT) before qualifying at 9:15am (9:45am AEDT) Saturday made up of two 20-minute components.
Two 60-minute races split across Saturday at 2:55pm (3:25pm AEDT) and Sunday at 11:45am (12:15pm AEDT) follow.
The weekend will be streamed live on 7Plus.
Entry list, Round 5 The Bend Motorsport Park
|1||Pro-Am||The Bend Motorsport Park||Yasser Shahin||Garth Tander||Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II|
|2||Am||KFC||Gary Higgon||Paul Stokell||Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II|
|6||Pro-Am||Wall Racing||Adrian Deitz||Tony D’Alberto||Lamborghini Huracan GT3|
|8||GT Trophy||Launch Racing||Michael Kokkinos||Audi R8 LMS GT3 Ultra|
|19||GT4||Daimler Trucks Australia||Mark Griffith||Mercedes-AMG GT4|
|20||Pro-Am||Melbourne Performance Centre||Liam Talbot||Fraser Ross||Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II|
|23||Am||KFC||Matt Stoupas||Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II|
|44||GT Trophy||Valmont Racing||Marcel Zalloua||Sergio Pires||Mercedes-AMG GT3|
|45||Am||RAM Motorsport/GWR Australia||Michael Sheargold||Garth Walden||Mercedes-AMG GT3|
|88||Pro-Am||Triple Eight Race Engineering – JMR||Prince Abu Bakar Ibrahim||Jamie Whincup||Mercedes-AMG GT3|
|101||Am||Harrolds Volante Rosso Motorsport||Ross Poulakis||Mercedes-AMG GT3|
|102||GT4||Harrolds Volante Rosso Motorsport||Christos Batios||Sam Brabham||Mercedes-AMG GT4|
|888||Pro-Am||Triple Eight Race Engineering – JMR||Prince Jefri Ibrahim||Broc Feeney||Mercedes-AMG GT3|