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Baird muscles Mies, but neither wins AGT Townsville race one

The first Australian GT Championship race at Townsville started well for Craig Baird, the Kiwi holding a podium place for the majority of proceedings before fading late after co-driver Scott Taylor struggled. Despite German driver Christopher Mies dominating qualifying and the early phase of the race, the win was claimed by Klark Quinn in his McLaren.

 

The GT juggernaut pairing of Baird and Mies stared the race from the front row. Mies claimed the start and the lead by turn two, leaving baird to file in behind in second place. Despite a number of instances of minor contact through the field, the opening lap unfolded cleanly — Mies and Baird leading the McLaren trio of Jonathan Webb, Klark Quinn, and Elliot Barbour.

 

Mies and Baird took no time to kick clear of the third-placed Webb, but Mies was the quicker pilot of the two — extending his lead to an imposing seven seconds over Baird by the 20-minute mark. Underlining the Audi driver's pace was his fastest lap of 1:11.9875; a new record for the category at the parklands Townsville circuit.

 

Baird and his co-driver Scott Taylor's solace was the knowledge that their stop in pit lane was to be 10 seconds longer than that of Mies and his Melbourne Performance Centre co-driver Tony Bates.

 

The first of the stops happened as soon as the window opened with 35-minutes left in the race — Kiwi Simon Ellingham and young BMW pilot Ricky Capo among the early takers. Over the next few minutes, drivers would pile into pit lane; though Mies and Baird hung out for longer than most with the hopes of maximising the amount of time their A-grade drivers would have behind the wheel.

 

As the pit window neared closure, Mies and Baird both pitted on the same lap. And despite the longer stop, Mies' Audi — now with Bates behind the wheel — held onto the corrected lead. Baird's co-driver Taylor was on Bates' button leaving pit lane, but lost touch with the Audi after a temporary issue with the AMG GT3 exiting turn two. From there, Mies and Bates were untouchable for first place.

 

Taylor soon lost second to the quick stopping STIX McLaren of Klark Quinn — the Lamborghini of Roger Lago followed soon after to knock the STM Mercedes-Benz to fourth place.

 

Having leaped to second in the pit cycle, Klark Quinn began to chip away at the leading Bates. And with 17 minutes to go, he had bridged the margin — assisted by traffic. As the clock struck 15 minutes to go, Quinn pounced and took the lead at turn two after Bates got baulked by the lapped Audi R8 of Ellingham. Quinn marched away to eventually win the caution-free race by more than 10 seconds.

 

But the fight that Taylor was facing was far more imposing, as a long train of cars ran down the Erebus driver. He first surrendered fourth and fifth to Nathan Morcom and Tony Quinn, before falling from sixth to 12th in quick action. Taylor and Baird eventually finished 14th after a spin following contact with Ash Samadi.

 

He and Baird still scored a best result of the Kiwis, with expat Steve Richards and his teammate Max Twigg struggling to 18th — one place ahead of Fastways Racing's Simon Ellingham.

 

Photo: Australian GT Championship

 

Results

 

1. Klark Quinn
2. Christopher Mies
3. Roger Lago
4. Nathan Morcom
5. Tony Quinn
6. Greg Taylor/Barton Mawer
7. Jonathan Webb/Grant Denyer
8. Marcus Marshall/James Koundouris
9. Glen Wood/Justin McMillan
10. Nathan Antunes/Elliot Barbour

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