The season finale delivered a nail-biting finish with the leading four runners nose to tail in an epic race that saw two Australian GT titles awarded.
Driving the final stint, Tander (Audi R8 LMS GT3) seized the lead from John Martin ( Porsche 911 GT3 R) to move into the lead, handing the CAMS Australian GT Championship to co-driver Emery.
Finishing in third, Max Twigg and Tony D’Alberto confirmed themselves as victors of the CAMS Australian Endurance Championship in the Mercedes-AMG GT3.
From the start, Martin jumped into an early lead before being hunted down and passed by Craig Baird in the Scott Taylor Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 with a stunning early stint.
Fraser Ross (McLaren 650S GT3) and Peter Hackett (Eggleston Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3) made contact midway around the third lap, with Ross pitched into the spin which left his rear wheels buried in the gravel.
The contact saw Ross drop half a lap as the Safety Car was deployed, while Hackett picked up a drive through penalty, triggering a remarkable recovery drive from the veteran.
Running an alternate strategy, Baird led the race until handing the car to Scott Taylor on Lap 54.
Hackett and Liam Talbot, who had climbed into the Porsche on Lap 16, then emerged at the head of the race as it moved towards its closing stages.
Dom Storey took over the Mercedes-AMG GT3 on Lap 46 before becoming embroiled in a thrilling battle with Martin, who’d stepped back into the Porsche.
However, contact between the pair at the Porsche Dipper turned the race of its head.
Storey made his way by as Martin slid wide of the apex, an incident for which he picked up a drive-through penalty, dropping him to fifth.
The trio of Tander, D’Alberto and Dan Gaunt ( R8 LMS GT3) then closed in on race leader Martin, creating a four-way battle which waged until the chequered flag.
A brilliant defensive drive from Martin kept Tander at bay, before the Audi finally found a way through at Pirelli Corner as they begun the 83rd lap having harried the back of the Porsche for 10 laps.
It was a decisive move which ultimately handed Emery the Australian GT Championship.
D’Alberto then found himself locked onto the rear wing of the second placed Porsche but was unable to find a way through, settling for third which confirmed he at Twigg as winners of the CAMS Australian Endurance Championship.
Martin and Talbot ended the race second while Hackett and Storey finished fourth, one place ahead of Ross and Duvashen Padayachee.
Geoff Emery, #1 Audi R8 LMS GT3
“It’s massive, Audi Sport Customer Racing Australia have put together an amazing car for me.
“We had a little bit of bad luck in qualifying but the car was reliable all year, and we just kept chipping away at it.
“Driving with professionals like Garth, it just gets the job done at the end of the day you make minimal mistakes and whoever makes the least number of mistakes wins.
“Coming back to the start of the race I thought we might be on for a podium at best, but Garth had good pace at the end of the race and all of a sudden we were in with a good chance.
“There’s no doubt we’ll celebrate, we won’t miss on that!”
Max Twigg, #8 Mercedes-AMG GT3
“It’s what we set out to achieve; we didn’t anticipate doing any sprint rounds, it was all about the Australian Endurance Championship, right from The Bend, to Philip Island, to Hampton Downs.
“We didn’t think we’d get a place today, to be honest with the way the seedings work, but we did, we got third and I think we were so close to getting a first.
“We both drove well, Tony always drives exceedingly well.
“The last lap I thought Daniel Gaunt was going to tag him and turn him around. That’s when I got nervous!”
Tony D’Alberto, #8 Mercedes-AMG GT3
“Achieving your goals is always pretty special, and to win it for Max and Scott Taylor Motorsport is awesome.
“The race was probably a little bit tougher than I expected, but up against some quality guys out there, racing hard, it was what it was meant to be like.
“We were all trying to get those last couple of points, and obviously Geoff and Garth trying to win the Australian GT Championship, and we were trying to wrap up the Australian Endurance Championship.
“Really stoked, really happy.
“It’s lucky Max was’t on the radio because he was telling to boys to tell me to have a big crack!
“If I had have been able to get through on the Porsche we would have been able to clear off, but I couldn’t do it safely enough and I probably wasn’t aggressive enough.
“We managed the situation, we knew what we had to do, and came away with a podium as well, so it’s even better.”
Results: Hampton Down 500
P Competitor/Team Driver Vehicle Laps Race Time
1 Valvoline Geoff Emery/Garth Tander Audi R8 LMS 95 2:36:07.121
2 Hot Wheels Car Care Products Liam Talbot/John Martin Porsche 911 GT3 R 95 2:36:08.280
3 WM Waste Management Max Twigg/Tony D’Alberto Mercedes-AMG GT3 95 2:36:08.856
4 KFC/Ctech Laser/Moveitnet/B&B Tony Bates/Daniel Gaunt Audi R8 LMS 95 2:36:09.267
5 Eggleston Motorsport Peter Hackett/Dom Storey Mercedes-AMG GT3 95 2:36:27.236
6 Total Oil/Opti-Coat Fraser Ross/Duvashen Padayachee McLaren 650S GT3 95 2:36:40.140
7 BMW Team SRM Steve Richards/Michael Almond BMW M6 GT3 95 2:36:55.516
8 Scott Taylor Motorsport Scott Taylor/Craig Baird Mercedes-AMG GT3 95 2:37:30.743
9 Local Legends Beef Jerky Tony Quinn/Andrew Waite McLaren 650S GT3 94 2:36:09.557
10 Wall Racing Adrian Deitz/Cameron McConville Lamborghini Huracan GT3 94 2:37:04.366
11 Bute Line Plumbing Andrew Fawcett/Jonny Reid Audi R8 LMS 94 2:37:12.429
Australian GT Championship
GEOFF EMERY 1104
Liam Talbot 1064
Peter Hackett 1041
Fraser Ross 1041
Steve Richards 985
Tony Bates 979
Max Twigg 880
Tony D’Alberto 880
Daniel Gaunt 773
Scott Taylor 739
Australian Endurance Championship
MAX TWIGG 791
TONY D’ALBERTO 791
Tony Bates 704
Daniel Gaunt 704
Steve Richards 688
Michael Almond 688
Geoff Emery 641
Garth Tander 641
Liam Talbot 578
John Martin 578
Fraser Ross 575
Peter Hackett 538
Duvashen Padayachee 510
Scott Taylor 452
Craig Baird 452
Adrian Deitz 443
Cameron McConville 443
Source. Australian GT