Brenton Grove has capped off a brilliant debut season in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge with a win in the final race of the year, and second place in the championship at Phillip Island, after a bouncing back from a difficult Friday.
Grove suffered heavy damage to his 997 when he made contact with the barriers during practice in tricky wet conditions.
The team having to pull out the spare car that night - which just happened to be Grove Racing’s very own two time Bathurst 12 Hour class winning Porsche, with Le Mans 24 Hours victor Earl Bamber, and Supercars star Scott McLaughlin’s names engraved onto the door from the 2016 Mount Panorama endurance classic.
Unable to set a time in qualifying, Grove started the first of three races on Saturday morning from the rear of the grid, claiming that having Bamber and McLaughlin riding with him would be a good luck charm.
The young racer carved through the field, going from fourteenth to fifth place by the time the chequered flag appeared at the end of the 11-lap race, it truly ended up being a Bamber and McLaughlin esque performance!
“It wasn’t the best of days on the Friday," said Grove.
"I made a small error going into turn one and the consequences of that were very large.
“Not being able to qualify made the weekend a lot more difficult but we sat down as a team and worked out a plan for the three races and we couldn’t have done any better.
“It was pretty funny seeing the names of those guys still on the car, I sent them both a message in the morning and they both sent back supportive messages for the day, however they were very quick to point out that I couldn’t hurt their baby!”
A lengthy safety car intervention punctuated race two, with Grove climbing up to, and finishing just off the podium in fourth place courtesy of a brilliant move on fellow competitor Ben Stack at the restart.
“There wasn’t really a chance to get into a rhythm for race two, it was my first dry laps of the weekend so I was learning every corner about what the car was doing and how the track was, so for me I was trying to maximise the race, but with only two clean laps it was difficult.”
Grove sealed the deal in race three, with a fantastic victory after absorbing immense pressure from championship rival Jordan Love in the closing stages.
The bright red Porsche, with a determined Grove behind the wheel took first place early on, leading every single lap except one from his fourth place start on the grid.
The safety car was deployed in the mid stages of the race when three other competitors came together leaving debris littered across the circuit, and a trio of rather damaged cars.
Grove held the lead on the restart and fended off Love in the final laps until the latter spun off into the gravel trap in the last couple of turns, letting Grove cruise home to victory.
The win meant that Grove closed the gap to Love in the championship standings, finishing second in his debut season in GT3 Cup Challenge.
“Starting from fourth, I didn’t really expect the get the win, I just wanted to get onto the podium and gain some confidence for next weekend.
“However, after the first couple of laps, being in the lead I quickly changed my focus from finishing to getting the win.
“With one lap to run after the safety car, I was going to do everything I could to bring the car home in the lead to pay everyone back for the hard work they had done to get me into this position.
“I’m so happy to have claimed the race win, and it’s given me a lot of momentum going forward next week!”
Grove will have back to back race weekends, when he hits the track at Sandown Raceway this coming weekend (15 September - 17 September) for his first of two Porsche Carrera Cup Australia outings.
The young gun will make the step up to Australia’s premier single make category and join his father; Stephen Grove on the grid at both the Sandown and Gold Coast rounds.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever run back to back weekends and it’s a pretty cool feeling. Coming off a high in the final race, I’m so excited to make my debut and start learning what a 991 is like to drive!”
This coming weekend’s Carrera Cup round will be part of the Wilson Security Sandown 500, taking place from 15th to the 17th of September.