Nick Percat has moved to second place in the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia standings with two races remaining following victory in Race 1 on the Gold Coast, while Shane Smollen finished at the top of the Elite Class field.
After taking pole position on Friday, Percat was beaten off the start line from second placed Steven Richards, who remained in the lead for the majority of the 12-lap race.
Percat was close behind at all times until he made a move for the lead on the second-to-last lap; winning a drag race out of the Turn 4 hairpin to eventually claim the race win and move into second place in the championship race.
Richards placed second for the race from Michael Patrizi, Shae Davies, Warren Luff, Craig Baird, who was demoted four places in the starting order to seventh due to a Parc Ferme infringement, and Duvashen Padayachee in seventh place.
A round win has so far eluded Percat in the 2013 season, however the young gun hopes this will change at the Queensland round.
“I’m very happy to take the opening race win in the Gold Coast,” said Percat.
“It’s always great racing with Steven Richards; you always know that he races fair. We had a great battle and it was extremely hard to get past him for the win.
“I’ve had pole positions and race wins this season, but I haven’t had a round win yet. If I take the round win here, then second for the championship will take care of itself.”
Shane Smollen continued his impressive Friday form into Saturday’s race, taking the Elite Class race win and eighth outright from Damien Flack, Max Twigg, Stephen Grove and Tony Bates in 12th place.
Smollen’s goal entering the race was to run with the Professional Class drivers. During the race, he found himself in a long battle with four-time champion Baird and Padayachee before taking the Elite Class race win.
“I drove quite a measured race and managed the gap behind me. It was quite a hot track and I was happy with the way the car performed,” said Smollen, who hopes to improve on his 2012 Gold Coast result, where he won the opening race before his weekend ended in Race 2.
“It’s easy for anything to happen at this track, particularly on the first lap. It’s just important that I keep my head straight; we’ve got good tyres for tomorrow. It will be lower track temperatures tomorrow morning; it should be a faster track and a great race. I just hope to get past the first two corners in Race 2, which will be an improvement on last year.”
James Bergmuller finished in 13th from Michael Loccisano, Tony Walls and Renee Gracie in 16th.
The race experienced one safety car period after Paul Kelly hit the tyre barrier on the opening lap while running towards the front of the Elite Class. Marc Cini was also caught up in the incident, with both drivers failing to finish the race.
Baird now has a 92-point lead in the Professional Class standings from Percat, with Luff a further nine points behind.
Twigg holds a 33-point lead of the Elite Class championship over Flack, who is 297 points clear of third-placed Smollen.