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Nov 16, 2019

Drake closes in on Barram lead

John-Paul Drake has taken out the first race of a big weekend to stake a claim for the Australian Prototype Series’ 2019 title.

After starting the race on the second row, Drake got off to a scratchy start, dropping a place behind series leader David Barram but held his nerve to stay in position and defend his spot against Glen Stallbaum.

In front of him, the battle for top spot between Barram, Daniel Gonzalez and pole sitter Mark Laucke was heating up as the trio traded places, each driver looking for a gap to take.

Towards the end of the fourth lap, Gonzalez went for a big move but took out Laucke in the process, while Barram got caught up in the drama and spun out, leaving a clear path for Drake to move to the front of the field.

While Gonzalez and Laucke struggled to recover from the incident, Barram stabilised straight away and kept his spot, albeit it quite far from Drake as his clear road.

For the remainder of the race, Drake held onto his lead as Barram spent each lap closing the gap, but it proved to be difficult for the series leader as Drake came home with the win ahead of him, with Greek International Andreas Laskaratos finished in the top three.

“That whole race went to plan. I needed a win and I got it. My first for the year too which is amazing. I am super excited. Obviously disappointed for the others but I’ll take it,” Drake explained.

“It was a bit of a Steven Bradbury moment actually. The three got a couple of car lengths ahead and then Daniel (Gonzalez) ended up hitting Mark (Laucke) to knock them out and David (Barram) spun out to avoid them.

“I ended up avoiding the drama to win the gold medal which was great. I just need to do the best I can. I have had a great coaching this weekend and it’s really made a difference.

“It spices up the title fight a little bit.”

With both Luacke and Gonzalez dropping significant points and Drake securing a memorable victory, the four-way title fight whittles down to a two horse race between the second placed Drake and the current leader in Barram.

Despite Barram not winning the opening race, he was thrilled to finish second and get one step closer to the title, although he was not getting too far ahead of himself.

“That was very good. The race went well. I was expecting more like third or fourth but anything can happen and consequently I got a good start,” Barram said.

“I knuckled down and did the best I could and then the incident happened and I got caught up in it as the car got some dirt and spun.

“I thought I got a puncture so I took it easy for a couple of laps and then I realised I was fine. I then made up some ground and managed to get second place.

“Tomorrow is another day, we will see what happens. But to win the series, I have to win the race, I don’t see any other way. I will get some good rest and then come back tomorrow and do what I need to do.”

Glen Stallbaum and Carmelo Bonaventura continued their season-long battle with Stallbaum finishing higher in fourth place, one spot ahead of Bonaventura.

As a result, both drivers extended their lead in their classes, with Bonaventura now comfortably ahead of the next best driver in Zig Fuhrmeister, while Stallbaum has all but sealed the Hankook Cup.

The series continues tomorrow with the final race of the year at 9:45am ADCT.