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Apr 22, 2013

LOCAL ACE ALMOND TAKES MAIDEN GT3 CUP CHALLENGE ROUND WIN

Local Porsche ace Michael Almond has claimed his first round win in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia presented by Pirelli series at Mallala Motor Sport Park, with impressive debutant Richard Muscat and young gun Phil Woodbury also having reasons to celebrate.

After placing second to Muscat in Saturday’s endurance night race, Almond got the jump at the start of Sunday’s Race 2 in wet conditions and led the Porsche field into the first corner from Muscat, Woodbury, Fraser Ross and John Goodacre.

Almond’s time at the front was made easier when Muscat left the circuit on Lap 7 of the 14-lap event, allowing Almond to pull a sizeable gap on the field, while Muscat dropped back to 10th.

Almond's gap at the front quickly closed when the Safety Car was called onto the circuit on Lap 8 to recover Peter Fitzgerald's vehicle from the Turn 7 run-off area.

With a two-lap sprint to the finish at the restart, Almond again gapped the field to claim his first win of the season from Woodbury and Goodacre, who stole third place from Ross on the third-to-last corner of the race.

Muscat recovered to finish fifth from John Morriss, Stephen Grove, Scott Taylor, Grant Sparks, Matt Speakman and Fitzgerald in 11th.

Almond repeated his impressive starting efforts in Race 3 on a drying track, taking the lead and holding the front spot until the chequered flag, securing his first GT3 Cup Challenge round win and taking the lead of the standings.

Almond was thrilled with his Mallala performance and now takes an 11 point lead into the next round of the Porsche series.

“I’m ecstatic; what a great weekend. We went out there not trying to break any records; we were consistent, level-headed and got the results,” said Almond.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have raced in the GT3 Cup Challenge series and in Touring Cars Masters of late, along with a couple of rounds of the Australian GT Championship. With this experience I feel a lot more relaxed in the car.

“I predict a very competitive season ahead from here. I think that a lot of the tracks on the east coast will suit a few of the other drivers so it is going to be a great season of Porsche racing.”

Muscat finished second after starting ninth on the grid - relegated four starting positions on the grid after being found to have be driving with excessive pace under Safety Car conditions in Race 2.

The result placed Muscat second for the round behind Almond, a result that pleased the young Victorian.

“If you told me that I was going to take second in a round that had a night race, a wet race and a drying track race, I would have taken it. It’s been a great experience and I have learnt a lot this weekend,” said Muscat.

“This series is setting me up really well for Carrera Cup next year. Porsche do a really good job at allowing youngsters like me to progress through GT3 Cup Challenge and Carrera Cup in preparation for top-level motorsport.”

Woodbury placed third for the race, which secured him third for the round on his 25th birthday.

Ross placed fourth for Race 3 from Goodacre, Fitzgerald, Morriss, Grove, Taylor, John Karytinos, Keith Wong and Speakman.

The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia presented by Pirelli series will return to the track at Sydney Motorsport Park on May 25-26 for the inaugural Porsche Rennsport Australia Motor Racing Festival.