Peter Hackett has become the equal most successful driver in Australian GT history after taking victory alongside co-driver Dominic Storey in the Hampton Downs 500.
The Autex/Eggleston Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 pairing dominated last weekend’s Australian Endurance Championship round at the New Zealand venue, winning by a margin of 27-seconds.
The result means Hackett joins David Wall and the late Allan Simonsen as the most successful drivers in Australian GT history, each with 17-victories to their names.
“It’s very flattering to be equal with guys like Allan [Simonsen] and David [Wall],” said an emotional Hackett after the race.
“We all miss Allan.
“It makes me feel a little old, but I love GT racing, this category and representing Mercedes-AMG.
“We are extremely passionate racers,” he continued. “We make a few enemies sometimes because we’re passionate about racing and want to win!”
After Qualifying on the front row of the grid, the duo were handed down a penalty on Sunday morning following an investigation post-Top 10 Shootout.
Stewards deemed the #63 entry to have arrived too late at pit exit for it’s shootout lap and relegated them to the back of the top ten, starting Sunday’s race from ninth on the grid.
Hackett quickly made up positions in the opening laps, charging through to third place before the team opted to play alternative strategy and pitted him on Lap 18 for a splash of fuel.
A Safety Car intervention just 15-laps later brought the squad right back into contention, before they found themselves leading on Lap 64.
A combination of clever strategy and the demise of near rivals saw Hackett and Storey take the victory and their first of the 2017 Australian Endurance Championship.
“That splash and dash we did in the opening laps was part of the strategy from the beginning,” explained Hackett.
“We felt that if it was going to go green to the end, we could give Dom [Storey] a car that could run the last 45 laps on its own.
“I think the whole field did a great job, it was an extraordinary race to be a part of. It has been a tough couple of years for us and we got this one.”
The Mercedes Benz driving instructor stressed the importance of finishing the race, declaring last weekend’s expedition just ‘perfect’.
“The race is not over until the flag drops and you cross the line,” added Hackett.
“We’ve seen cars run out of fuel, we’ve seen Safety Cars, we’ve seen flat tyres – the reliability of the AMG is not in question, but all the other stuff can happen, so I’m just glad to see Dom bring it home.
“It’s been absolutely perfect all weekend, this has been a good one for us.
“We overcame adversity this weekend is what we’ve done, Dom’s been incredibly fast and this is one for all the fans.”
Hackett now has his eyes focussed on the final round of the Australian Endurance Championship at Highlands, refuting any concern of the championship title.
“The goal for Highlands will be to do exactly what we’ve done here; go and win the race, go as fast as we can in every session and develop the car and bring it home again,” said Hackett.
“We’re not going to think about the championship at all, we’re going to win the race and see what happens.”
The Australian Endurance Championship finale at Highlands will take place from November 10-12.