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Aug 4, 2013

MUSCAT BACK ON TOP AS GROVE BREAKS THROUGH

Richard Muscat has continued his winning form in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Presented by Pirelli at Queensland Raceway, winning round 5 of the series in style.

Meanwhile, Stephen Grove broke through for his maiden triumph in the series’ Elite division today.

Taking both race wins on Sunday, Muscat has provisionally won the 2013 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Presented by Pirelli, his 103 points margin over John Goodacre unreachable in the final round.

Muscat’s #22 Porsche 997 GT3 Cup car took the lead from early challenger Michael Almond midway through race two and was never headed in race three, completing a strong weekend and return to the top of the podium.

“It was a credit to the team. We made some changes after last night’s race and they seem to have worked,” Muscat said.

"The car was a rocketship today and the racing was very good.  The changes we made last night worked and I’m very happy with today’s results.

“We’ve won the Championship provisionally now, but we’ll go into Phillip Island like we have done all year.  We take it race by race and we’ll approach the season finale in the same way.”

Despite Muscat’s form, Michael Almond in the Copyworld/Toshiba #18 was never far away from the lead, the pair finishing first and second in both of Sunday’s races.

Hoping to repeat his stunning form in Saturday night’s enduro, Almond started from pole in race two but couldn’t resist Muscat’s pace, losing the lead on lap six. Muscat then seized his opportunity, setting a new lap record of 1:13.3082 as he powered to the win.

That form was then repeated in the third race when Muscat led from the line and was never headed, though Almond moved to second in the professional class standings with his strong performance this weekend.

“The racing was good but it highlighted areas where I needed to improve. I probably needed to push harder,” he said.

“Both races were pretty straight forward.  I was able to lead from the start of the second race but once Muscat got past he build a small gap.

“I was able to maintain his pace but couldn’t challenge. The third race was pretty straight forward and didn’t have any issues.”

Behind Muscat and Almond, former Speedway ace-turned circuit racer Jon McCorkindale scored his maiden Porsche trophy with third in the professional class this weekend, driving his Dial Before You Dig-sponsored 997 GT3 Cup Car.

The third step of the podium would prove to be hotly contested; Stephen Grove taking the spot in the morning race before John Goodacre did the job in the finale, having charged from last to fifth in race two earlier in the day following his race one non-finish.

Grove’s race two outright podium finish was the first in his GT3 Cup Challenge career.

Having taken his Elite class win in Saturday’s night race, he backed that up with a second class win and a second today to seal his maiden Porsche Elite division round win.

"I wasn’t expecting to be so competitive this weekend,” he beamed following race three.

"We didn’t have many tyres coming into the races on Sunday so we had to manage those while pushing as hard as we could. The team did a great job and we worked hard throughout the weekend. On track it was a matter of pushing when we could and also being patient. It was a great weekend.”

Grove led home a series of first-time Elite division podium finishers, Scott Taylor (3rd) and John Karytinos (2nd) joining Grove on the podium.

John Modystach had looked like contending for the Elite division round victory however failed to start the final race after damaging his engine earlier in the day.

The final round of the 2013 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Presented by Pirelli takes place at Phillip Island, with the Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals, on September 19-22.

Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia - Points after round 5

Professional

1. Richard Muscat 408
2. Michael Almond 300
3. Peter Fitzgerald 297
4. Phil Woodbury 291
5. Fraser Ross 199

Elite

1. John Goodacre 417
2. Stephen Grove 365
3. John Morriss 283
4. Scott Taylor 226
5. John Karytinos  188