Victorian Rio Nugara has announced his plans to compete in the 2019 CAMS Australian GT Championship as a full-time driver.
Nugara will continue his partnership with Audi Sport customer racing Australia for the Championship, opting to compete in 2019 with a second-generation Audi Sport R8 LMS GT3.
The announcement follows on from a successful CAMS Australian GT Trophy Series where Nugara finished third outright after claiming three outright victories throughout the year in the EAT Furniture first-generation R8.
Nugara’s transition into the CAMS Australian GT Championship follows the traditional route taken by former Audi Sport customer racing Australia teams who have competed in both Sprint’ and ‘Endurance’ championships.
With the purchase of Steve McLaughlin’s R8 to aid his climb up the ranks, Nugara is confident the purchase can provide a seamless transition into the championship.
“I spoke with Steve mid-year about the opportunity of buying the #1 car used so successfully by Geoff Emery – which at that stage was the reigning championship winning car – and we concluded a deal,” Nugara explained.
“Interestingly, it was also the car that Christopher Mies used to smash the GT3 lap record at Challenge Bathurst, so it has a fantastic heritage.
“Like many of the current second-generation R8 GT3s, I plan to update to the new ‘evolution’ specification which is homologated for the 2019 AGT season.
“The car is an update on the car that already has two Australian GT titles to its name, with modifications to aerodynamics and powertrain to improve handling – it’s also expected to be a faster package than the current car based on it’s improved durability.
“I love my first-generation R8, and I hate to see her go, but she needs to make way for the new car, so someone will be buying themselves an absolutely fantastic car that is a proven performer, right from it’s 2013 debut in Macau.”
Nugara will now drive the third car flying underneath the Audi Sport customer racing Australia banner for the 2019 season after McLaughlan purchased a further two Valvoline backed vehicles.
Like most of the other drivers competing in the CAMS Australian GT Championship, Nugara is keen to get a few test runs in his new wheels ahead of the season opener at the Formula One Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2019 at Albert Park.
“What an event to kick off the new season,” Nugara said.
“I’ve always loved motor sport, so I am a huge fan of Formula 1, and to start my new season on the same circuit as the opening round of the 2019 F1 season is very special, especially as it’s in my own back yard.
“I’m realistic about my goals for the year given my relative inexperience against so many of the top teams and drivers, but the Audi Sport customer racing Australia team has been fantastic from day one, and I’m sure they’ll be there right alongside me as I embark on that next step, and hopefully get to the stage where I’m starting to push my rivals along a little.
“This will be a big challenge for me, but I’m looking forward to it, and what promises to be a fantastic season.”
The seven round CAMS Australian GT Championship will begin on 14-17 March at the Formula One Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2019, before heading to Perth’s Barbagallo Raceway in May for the second round.