Sunday, Apr 15 09:01pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Dan Gaunt the best of Kiwi contingent at The Bend

Of the three New Zealanders racing at The Bend, Dan Gaunt was the best of them all with fourth in a challenging first outing for the CAMS Australian Endurance Championship.


Australia's newest racing facility The Bend Motorsport Park, an hour east of Adelaide, hosted the Australian GT Championship for the second round of their championship. It was the first round of the endurance leg, which was slated to run on the full 7.77km GT layout. 


However, adverse weather conditions meant that the race schedule and circuit was revised and the field instead raced on the shorter International layout. 


The 78 lap race was won by Max Twigg and Tony D'Alberto, who earlier qualified on pole position during Saturday afternoon's running on the long circuit. It's their second straight win in the endurance championship having won the final round last year at Highlands Motorsport Park. 


They led 43 laps in total on their way to victory ahead of John Martin and Liam Talbot in their Porsche 911 GT3 R with BMW boys Steven Richards and Michael Almond third. Just off the podium was Kiwi Dan Gaunt who paired with Tony Bates to take fourth. 


Twigg, who is ranked as the amatuer driver of the two, piloted a Mercedes-AMG GT3 on his way to victory with D'Alberto. He said the win shows he has what it takes to be a regular front runner. 


"If you drive outside your rating, you win - it's like golf, if you play better than your handicap you do well," Twigg said.


"I think I drove well, I think Tony drove well, and that's what happens. We stayed out of trouble, we qualified strongly, and we just put it together.


"If you win any of these endurance races, it's three times as good. It's a major, it's the one you want to win, and a new circuit, we worked it out quickly, and the track came to me more and more as I drove it. I'm thrilled."

D'Alberto was equally stoked as he finished off the job Twigg started. 


"Max did a fantastic job at the start, settled into a nice rhytym, handed the car over to me in first and it was pretty simple from there on," D'Alberto said.


"The car was fantastic. The STM boys just did a great job; the pit stops were clean, and that's what we were aiming for this weekend."


Craig Baird was the second best Kiwi in the field. He paired up with Scott Taylor and briefly led the race until he dropped back late in the piece. Shane van Gisbergen finished one place back of Taylor and Baird in 11th alongside Tony Quinn. 


Photo: Dirk Klynsmith