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Post race penalty for Quinn hands Baird third place finish

New Zealand GT3 ace Craig Baird battled through the field to take fourth place in the final race of the Australian GT Championship at the Townsville 400. But the Kiwi was promoted to third after race winner Klark Quinn was penalised for a starting infringement.

 

A chaotic start saw the midfield run four wide on the run down to turn one. The leading McLaren 650s of Klark Quinn and the Audi R8 LMS of Tony Bates both ran wide through turn one. The pair were fortunate not to lose positions, Bates running side-by-side on the run down to turn ten with the third placed running Lamborghini.

 

The Baird/Taylor Mercedes AMG benefited from an incident immediately ahead as the Audi of Greg Taylor got spun by the Porsche 991 R of Neale Muston. By the end of lap one, taylor sat 12th moving up a couple of positions having started 14th.

 

Young up-and-coming Australian GT3 and Supercar race Alex Rullo spun on the opening lap exiting turn ten, colliding with the inside wall.

 

Moments later the BMW Z4 of Ricky Capo got sent around at turn two. Capo suffered a puncture after the collision, the tire deflated on the run down to turn one sending Capo around at high speed and into the turn one wall.

 

The safety car was subsequently brought out to retrieve Capo’s car; and only five minutes had elapsed in the race.

 

The restart saw Quinn leap out ahead of Bates as Glenn Wood hounded the second placed Audi. The pair nearly came to blows at turn seven, Wood nearly colliding with Bates as he looked to make his way past.

 

Bates and Wood went side-by-side down the front straight half a lap later. The pair bumped doors, and Wood suffered. A left rear puncture caused by the rubbing sent the Lamborghini into a spin and out of contention.

 

Bates looked to struggle after the contact as he dropped to fifth two laps after the incident.

 

Taylor sat on the outside of the top-ten for the opening stanza of the race, as those behind and ahead capitulated. With the pit window opening Taylor moved into tenth, Nathan Antunes suffering mechanical gremlins.

 

Baird sat thirteenth as the early pit stops cycled through, ahead of the early second place holder Bates whose Audi was now piloted by Mies.

 

With a little over 20 minutes to go Baird sat tenth as he began to chase down the front runners. Baird was quick, setting the fastest lap of the race on a 1:12.724 over a second faster than the guys at the head of the field.

 

Baird moved into ninth with nineteen minutes to go, chasing down his fellow countryman Simon Ellingham for eighth just a minute later. Baird was soon past the Audi of Ellingham, again setting the fastest lap of the race on a low 1:12.

 

Baird began to pick off the leading pack, taking seventh place off McLaughlin at the final corner before Baird made another move to get sixth from Tony Quinn. With 12 minutes to go Baird made the move for fifth on Martin in the Porsche.

 

Ten seconds separated Baird from fourth placed Koundouris, and Baird was soon bringing the gap back down. Just six seconds was the gap with nine minutes remaining, a top-three looking more and more likely.

 

Baird breezed past Koundouris with five minutes to go on the front straight. Six seconds separated Baird and third placed Roger Lago, the gap beginning to come down in the dying stages of the race.

 

Baird came close to taking fourth, drawing within just a few tenths of Lago for third. But ultimately he couldn’t get past, settling for fourth.

 

At the head of the field it was Klark Quinn taking victory on the penultimate corner, defeating Tony Walls on the last lap. However, Quinn was later peanlised for a start infringement, promoting Baird and Taylor into third and giving Walls the win.

 

Results:

1. Tony Walls

2. Roger Lago

3. Craig Baird/Scott Taylor

4. John Martin/Neale Muston

5. Christopher Mies/Tony Bates

6. James Koundouris/Marcus Marshall

7. Klark Quinn

8. Tony Quinn

9. Steve McLaughlin

10. Jonathan Webb 

 

Photo: Australian GT

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