THE GT3 DEBRIEF: What emerged from The Bend

THE GT3 DEBRIEF: What emerged from The Bend

The Bend added to the close title battle between Ferrari, Mercedes-AMG and Audi, with Lamborghini joining the trio in South Australia.

Triple Eight’s maiden victory and impressive class performances highlighted a great weekend at The Bend utilising the West layout for the first time.

Here are some of the key talking points after Round 2 of the title chase at The Bend as presented to you by the Fanatec GT Australia media team.

Mercedes-AMG and Triple Eight on the board

It was only a matter of time until the Triple Eight Race Engineering duo of Peter Hackett and Declan Fraser took victory, which was also the first for Mercedes-AMG this season. Although a shorter stop enabled the team to jump the opposition, Hackett’s drive early set-up Fraser’s closing stint to put the three-pointed star on top of the podium.It marked Hackett’s first win since 2019, which was also in a Mercedes-AMG and Fraser’s first to vault the pair into title calculations.

Will Brown’s rich vein of form not limited to Supercars

The Bend heralded a welcome result for Brad Schumacher (more on him below) and Will Brown as the Queenslander appeared in sync with the Shaw & Partners/Kelso Electrical Audi. Finishing fourth in Race 1, a race defining pass on MPC stablemate Brendon Leitch in the second encounter akin to Mika Hakkinen on Michael Schumacher some 25 years ago at Spa set up a superb maiden victory. Brown currently leads the Supercars Championship, but can he add a Fanatec GT Australia title as well? In the meantime, he’s in the US taking on the ol’boys of NASCAR. 

Brad Schumacher’s hat-trick

Brad Schumacher achieved something unique on Sunday by achieving wins in all three tiers of Fanatec GT Australia. Joining the category in 2021 driving a GT Trophy Audi R8 LMS GT3 Ultra, the Bathurst local upgraded towards the end of 2022 to the latest Evo2 offering before linking up with MPC and Will Brown for a Pro-Am attack this season. Schumacher has won the GT Trophy and is reigning Am Class winner, will he add a Pro-Am title in 2024?

RAM Motorsport’s remarkable turnaround

There was disappointment in the RAM Motorsport pit after Saturday’s event when late-race contact dropped the Garth Walden and Mike Sheargold entry out of the Am Class lead. Walden had qualified the Mercedes-AMG on the outright front row and the team held the class lead until the final two laps. Disappointment was turned into elation on Sunday when it secured the Am Class win and with it the lead in the standings. Sheargold continues to improve and Walden is wickedly fast ensuring this partnership is one of the leading Am Class contenders.

Valentino Astuti and Aston Martin - A match made in heaven

Previous Australian Formula Ford Series winner Valentino Astuti continues to impress aboard the KMB Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3. Although close to a decade old, Astuti ran outright in the top 10 consistently to impress among the newer, more serious metal. Darren Currie also did well on his maiden weekend and hopefully the first of many to come.