Peter Hackett and Dominic Storey have taken a dominant victory for Eggleston Motorsport in a the Australian Endurance Championship, Hampton Downs 500.
The pairing started on the back foot, after receiving a penalty in Saturday’s Top 10 Shootout, which dropped them from second to ninth on the grid.
Overcoming adversity, the squad moved through the field early in the hands of Hackett, before playing a different strategy card with Storey bringing the car home from an early final stop.
“This is fantastic,” Storey said.
“I didn’t think it was possible, but Pete [Peter Hackett] did a fantastic job. He got into the lead and I just had to do my job really.
“The car was fantastic. The Eggleston boys did a fantastic job and gave me a car that was so easy to drive. I was fuel saving all the way to the end and was just cruising home. Just fantastic!”
At the start of the race, Andrew Macpherson (#51 AMAC Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3-R) swooped into the lead off the front row of the grid, but pole-sitter Liam Talbot quickly re-took the position back at Turn 2.
Fraser Ross (#58 YNA Autosport/McElrea Racing McLaren 650s GT3) was on an early charge, rapidly working his way up through the field to second, after starting from eighth – also receiving a penalty post shootout.
The Melbourne based driver caught up to the back of race leader Talbot and began to squabble with him as Hackett (#63 Eggleston Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3) found himself in third after passing Dylan O’Keeffe (#100 Team SRM BMW M6 GT3), who now sat fourth.
Ross continued to try and find a way past Talbot, but struggled to get by as Hackett closed up on the pair before pitting on Lap 18.
Scott Hookey (#19 Hogs Breath Cafe Mercedes-AMG GT3) brought out the Safety Car on Lap 33 when he spun on the exit of Turn 10, skidding through the grass and making slight contact with barrier before coming to rest in the mud and needing recovery.
The incident happened just seconds before the compulsory pit stop window opened, preventing teams from diving in early to serve their CPS as you cannot do so under a Safety Car.
The race went back to green on Lap 35, with Ross pitting two laps later for a fuel stop, as Hackett made a move on Talbot for the lead of the race at Turn 2 and started to clear off out front.
Only a handful of cars managed to make it through to the critical lap number – Lap 60 – which would get their lower rated driver compulsory laps out the way on only one stop.
Tim Miles (#75 Jamec Pem Audi R8 LMS GT3) dived into the lane on that critical lap 60 to hand over to co-driver Jaxon Evans, followed in on Lap 61 by Talbot who made way for his co-driver; John Martin, while Hackett also pitted for his second stop on Lap 61 to hand the steering wheel to Dom Storey.
Max Twigg assumed the lead in the #8 Waste Management Mercedes until he came in on Lap 64 for his second stop to hand over to co-driver Tony D’Alberto, as Storey re-took over the top spot from Talbot in P2.
The Parente/Ross McLaren then received a drive through penalty for having too many crew members over the pit-lane line, dropping them back to ninth before they made a another fuel stop on Lap 81, which pushed them off the lead lap.
Drama also struck the Mega Racing Porsche stable, with Martin copping a drive through penalty for speeding in pit lane, relegating them back to third after coming in from second place on Lap 74.
Out front through, Storey continued to lead by a margin of 45-seconds over Evans who ran in second, but began to close down on the Eggleston Mercedes as the laps ticked on.
More issues struck the Mega Racing Porsche crew when Martin started to loose time with what was reported as an electric issue, as Andrew Waite (#7 Darrel Lea Stix McLaren 650s GT3) in fifth slowly reeled him in.
Up the other end of pit-lane, the Steven Richards driven #100 BMW came into the garage after dropping a cylinder out on track and running slowly in the hands of Richards. The team would retire the car, which was running sixth at the time.
Storey crossed the line 27-seconds in front of Evans, claiming his and co-driver Hackett’s first victory in the 2017 Australian Endurance Championship season, while D’Alberto held onto the final spot on the podium for the #8 Mercedes which he shares with Twigg.
Martin finished up in fourth position, defending a late charge from Waite who fell 3-seconds short in the Darrell Lea Stix McLaren.
Ross and Parente recovered to to sixth in the YNA Autosport McLaren, with John Udy and Matt Whittaker finishing seventh in the International Motorsport Audi R8 LMS Ultra.
The top 10 was rounded out by the AMAC Porsche of Macpherson and Brad Shiels in eighth, ahead of the Neil Foster/Jonny Reid driven Giltrap Audi in ninth, and the Andrew Bagnall/Matt Haliday Audi in tenth.
Adrian Deitz and Cameron McConville overcame late race issues to finish 13th aboard the Timken/Zagame Autosport Lamborghini Huracan.
Richards and O’Keeffe were the first of the DNF’s in the Team SRM BMW M6, while Mark Griffith and Hookey also retired in the Hogs Breath Cafe Mercedes.
The Australian Endurance Championship will conclude at the Highlands 501 from November 10-12.