A last-minute deal has given Tony Bates the opportunity to defend his 2018 Phillip Island GT victory, the Audi ace securing an entry in this weekend’s opening round of the Australian Endurance Championship.
Having just returned to Australia following his Audi R8 LMS Cup exploits in China, Bates will drive his Australian-based AFS/Moveitnet/Local Roadways/C-Tech Laser/Bryant & Bryant Audi R8 in Sunday’s three-hour endurance race; he will be joined by experienced international sports car driver John Martin.
Bates and Daniel Gaunt were victorious in last year’s dramatic Phillip Island GT enduro, and while Bates wasn’t originally planning to compete in any Australian GT endurance events in 2019, he said the opportunity to return to a place with such fond memories was too hard to refuse.
“Phillip Island’s fast, flowing corners really suit the GT cars, and I love driving the Audi there, especially with results like we had last year,” Bates said.
“The race always throws up a lot of variables with the different driver combinations, Safety Cars, strategy, pit stops and Phillip Island’s notoriously unpredictable weather, so we will need to be on our toes.”
While this will be the first time Bates and Martin have shared a car, the two drivers have been rivals in the Australian GT Championship and Bates says Martin has earned his respect on the track.
“I’ve raced wheel-to-wheel with John, and I can tell he’s a class act; his CV in GT and sports car racing is second-to-none and I think the two of us will make a strong combination.
“As usual, our opposition will be tough, but if everything goes according to plan there’s no reason we can’t contend for outright victory again.”
Australian Endurance Championship Round 1 Schedule
Friday, 7 June
11:35am – Practice 1 (20 min)
2:00pm – Practice 2 (20 min)
Saturday, 8 June
10:00am – Practice 3 (40 min)
12:40pm – Qualifying 1 (20 min)
1:10pm – Qualifying 2 (20 min)
Sunday, 9 June
9:45am – Race (3 hours)
Where to Watch
Saturday’s qualifying sessions and Sunday’s race will be live streamed via the Shannons Nationals website.