Sunday, Jun 3 06:54pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Dan Gaunt wins thrilling, chaotic, crash ridden Phillip Island 101

Dan Gaunt has won the Phillip Island 101 with teammate Tony Bates in a dramatic race that saw a key contender taken out late in the piece. 


John Martin and Liam Talbot were odds on favourites to win having aced their pit stops and cleared out to a handy margin over their main rivals. That was until Martin crashed within sight of the finish. 


“At the stoppage I knew we were kind of in the mix," Gaunt said following the win.


"But (there was) a little bit of luck there with the Porsche. I don’t know what happened, but I just saw Hot Wheels lying on the side of the track at turn two. We were lucky there."


Gaunt paid tribute to his teammate Tony Bates who he's been driving with for several years. The 101 win if their first together as part of the CAMS Australian Endurance Championship. 


“It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been driving with him for five years now. We’ve finally got a win.”


John Martin took the hole shot into turn one and immediately leapt away to establish a sizeable margin.


There was drama behind as Scott Taylor clipped the rear of Adrian Dietz on the exit of turn one. That sent the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 into a spin and forced Tony Quinn to take evasive action.


Only an hour before the race Quinn revealed he’d sold the car to a New Zealand team and was hoping to finish the race cleanly. Rather ironically for the Game Over-backed McLaren 650S GT3, Quinn was in the wars from the outset.


He clipped the back of Dietz’s car and tore the rear bumper from the Lamborghini. The McLaren suffered too and Quinn later retired with damaged steering.


Tony Bates and Dan Gaunt were dealt an early blow when the officials handed them a five-second penalty to be taken in their pit stop.


John Martin pitted on lap 17 with a 36 second lead to swap seats with Liam Talbot. The rest of the field slowly made their way into the pits shortly thereafter.


There was drama as the race ticked over the lap 30 mark. Duvashen Padayachee and Ash Samadi came to blows at the MG hairpin. The pair made wheel-to-wheel contact and both ended up off worse for wear.


Padayachee took to the pit lane with a broken steering wheel. The car was pushed into the pit garage and the team had to borrow Tony Quinn’s wheel following his early retirement


Samadi meanwhile suffered a broken toe linkage and the car was wheeled into the garage.


The chaos continued on lap 45 when the Ginetta G55 GT4 of Rio Nugara went off at high speed across Lukey Heights. He slammed into the tyre wall and tore much of the rear end from the car.


There was significant damage to the back of the car and the tyre wall, which scattered tyres and dirt into the air.


The cars were brought to a halt on the front straight with 53 laps to go for the first stoppage of the race. A time certain finish threw a bit of doubt into the minds of some of the teams and drivers.


A lengthy delay came to an end and Fraser Ross led the field away. He headed into the pit lane followed by Peter Hackett, Almond, Bates and more.


There was another scary crash with 49 laps to go as the no.53 KTM X-Bow of Vince Tesoiriero went wide out of turn one, spun out and hit the tyre wall at high speed. The safety car was quickly called out, but the drama continued.


Jeremy Grey speared off as well in the Aston Martin Vantage V8. He collided with Tesoriero head on, but both appeared to come away unhurt.


The race was brought to a halt again and red flagged with 47 laps to go.


Another lengthy delay came to an end with Tony Walls at the head of the field on lap 58 of 101. Some still needed to complete their final pit stop and change drivers including that of Walls.


Talbot headed for their final pit stop on lap 60 who was followed by Gaunt a lap later. Talbot jumped out and Martin got back in.


With their final pit stop complete they were in the clear and looked odds on to be race leaders once the pit stop sequence cycled through having dominated the pit stop strategy.


Then drama struck. Martin got wide out of turn one and tore the front splitter off his car. With damage to the front and rear of their Porsche 911 GT3 R, he pulled off the road and retired from the race.


With debris strewn across the circuit from Martin’s misdemeanour the safety car was brought out.


Once again the race restarted with Jake Fouracre and Peter Hackett in the lead by a whole lap. Gaunt was close behind but a lap off the lead in second.


Fouracre pitted for his final pit stop. As the field rounded the final corner the Mercedes-AMG plummeted down the order to 11th.


Gaunt took the lead with 10 minutes remaining in the race. He was being hotly pursued by Steven Richards and Tony D’Alberto.


Gaunt, however, set about stretching his legs and edged out to a three second lead with only a handful of laps to go. Ultimately the Kiwi managed to hold on to take victory.


Phillp Island 101, top 10 results (provisional):

1. Dan Gaunt/Tony Bates 78 laps 
2. Steven Richards/Michael Almond +4.162 
3. Tony D'Alberto/Max Twigg +5.059 
4. Jonny Reid/Andrew Fawcett +6.581 
5. Garth Tander/Geoff Emery +6.738 
6. Jaxon Evans/Fraser Ross +8.185 
7. Craig Baird/Scott Taylor +9.511 
8. Cameron McConville/Cameron Dietz +9.603 
9. Luke Youlden/Yassir Shahin +10.193 
10. Warren Luff/Tony Walls +17.450 
11. Jake Fouracre/Peter Hackett +48.690
12. Shane van Gisbergen/Duvashen Padayachee +3 laps
13. Adam Hargraves/Daniel Jilesen +3 laps
14. Brett Strom/Daren Jorgensen +5 laps
15. David Crampton/Trent Harrison +5 laps
16. Ash Samadi/Dylan O'Keeffe +5 laps
DNF Liam Talbot/John Martin 61 laps
DNF Vince Tesoriero/Glen Wood 48 laps
DNF Jeremy Gray/Andrew Miedecke 47 laps
DNF Mark Griffith/Rio Nugara 39 laps
DNF Tony Quinn/Grant Denyer 7 laps


Photo: Dirk Klynsmith