The opening round of the Paynter Dixon Porsche Carrera Cup Australia Championship heralded a new era for the class locally, with the arrival of the latest generation Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Car (Type 992) at no less an event than the Formula 1 Heineken Australian Grand Prix.
Entering its second season of Paynter Dixon Porsche Carrera Cup Australia Championship competition, Earl Bamber Motorsport welcomed the experienced Dale Wood to the team as New Zealand young gun Callum Hedge continued as did Ryan Suhle.
In an impressive display, Suhle led the way in qualifying to place eighth as he held position during Race 1, which set-up a stronger run in the coming events.
Racing into the twilight in Friday’s second race, Suhle took sixth and in a chaotic third encounter he took fifth, leaving him well placed to take advantage in the final event prior to the Formula 1 Heineken Australian Grand Prix.
However, it wasn’t to be as contact dropped him to 17th at the flag although Suhle had displayed his frontrunning pace in the prior races ensuring he will be one to watch as the season unfolds.
Albert Park proved a tale of woe for Hedge as he started off steady by qualifying 11th before making scything through the field to be sixth in the opening race.
But an engine failure during Race 2 put him on the back foot, though Hedge managed to pass half the field on his way to 16th in the third before he failed to finish a chaotic finale.
In what was a category high 31-entry field, Wood qualified 13th, but was unable to progress as he dropped to 16th by the conclusion.
A failure to finish followed, but a spirited comeback through the field led to a 14th in Race 3 and seventh in the finale to end the opening round on a high.
Now the team prepares for the second round of its Paynter Dixon Porsche Carrera Cup Australia Championship campaign at Winton on May 21-22.
“It was quite hard, tough racing this weekend,” said Suhle. “I’ve noticed straight away that the level of competition has lifted significantly compared to the Michelin Sprint Challenge, so I’m looking forward to the next few rounds.”
“The first weekend racing at the Australian Grand Prix, I was really happy with how I drove, plus the team were very happy with where I’m at as well as the car is at,” said Hedge.
“We know it’s fast, we know I’m driving well, we know we have the speed to be in the top three results-wise, so there’s a more important emphasis on qualifying to be on the front row next time because we know that’s where we belong.”
“Round 1 is in the books, but certainly not leaving here with the points or the results that we always come here hoping for,” said Wood. “A lot was learnt and I really enjoy working with the team and it’s probably that weekend of trying to understand everybody, plus how the operation works.
“Thoroughly enjoyed it and I know that there are great results that lie ahead.”