The CAMS Australian GT Championship sprint format returns this weekend as another major support category for the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
The championship enters its penultimate round this weekend on the popular Gold Coast street circuit, having just wrapped up the CAMS Endurance Championship - which reigning GT champion Geoff Emery took out alongside Garth Tander.
It’s been a brilliant season from Emery, who enters the sixth round holding a healthy 178 point lead over Peter Hackett who put himself back into the mix after a commanding victory at the Shannons Nationals last month.
It’s been a while since either driver left the Gold Coast circuit on the podium, with Hackett’s most recent success being a pair of podium finishes in 2012. Emery has to go a bit further back to unveil his most useful experience on the Sunshine Coast, with the champion racing a V8 Ute way back in 2005.
While the two drivers will be battling it out for top spot, a number of other drivers will give the duo a run for their money with Fraser Ross back in the Sprint format after a solid Endurance campaign, as well as Tony Quinn and Ryan Millier.
It’s been a mixed year for Ross, with his round one result at Albert Park being removed from the pointscore and his new McLaren not arriving in time of the second round. The Victorian has since bounced back in style during the Endurance round and sits in sixth place outright.
As for Quinn, the Scotsman will be back behind the wheel of his trusty Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3 and will be keen to get a result on one of his favourite street circuits, whilst Miller enters the frame for his first round since Barbagallo earlier this year.
Current championship leader Emery is embracing the new found competition ahead of the final two rounds as he finds himself in an unfamiliar situation.
“For me it’s exciting,” Emery said.
“We’ve never been in this position before. We have always been chasing the leader and not often in the lead with two rounds still to go, so we’re keen to add another victory to the season tally.
“We won’t be in the best car there this weekend, but we will be trying our hardest to continue our good form that has kept us going. It’s a challenging track, but a really fun one, so we are looking forward to it.
“As for the format, there is not too much difference between the Endurance and Sprint rounds so the preparation doesn’t change much. In the Enduros, I sit in the car for about one hour and 20 minutes as opposed to the sprints which is one hour so it’s business as usual.”
As the outright battle between Emery and Hackett intensifies, Justin McMillan and Glen Wood continue their fight for GT4 honours with the two M-Motorsport team-mates comfortably in front of other class drivers David Crampton and Trent Harrison.
Other notable entries for the category’s sixth round is Trofeo Challenge points leader Nick Karnaros in the Earth Electrical Type 991 Cup Car, Chevrolet Camaro GT3 pilot Dale Paterson who will be looking to jump to the top of the standings in the Trophy Series and CAMS Australian GT Championship rookie Todd O’Brien.
As a local talent with a vast amount of experience in Aussie Racing Cars, O’Brien enters the round debuting his Ginetta G50 GT4, making him a driver to keep an eye on.
The CAMS Australian GT Championship will have one practice session and two qualifying sessions on Friday before holding one 60-minute race on both Saturday and Sunday.
The category forms part of the Vodafone Gold Coast 600 taking place on 25-27 October.