Fighting third for Grove in Hungary

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Stephen Grove claimed a fighting third-place finish in Round 6 of Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup at the Hungaroring in Hungary.

A mega qualifying session on Saturday set up a strong starting point for Sunday’s 15-lap race, with Grove beating series rival Philipp Sager to second in Pro-Am on the grid.

Times were tense on Sunday ahead of the race start, with Porsche Supercup once again the curtain-raiser to the Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix.

Starting from 24th outright, Grove launched well off the grid with his signature brilliant getaway as the five red lights went out.

The race was immediately on during the run down to the first corner; the Team Australia driver going wheel-to-wheel with Sager before the pair ran side-by-side through Turn 1.

An opening lap incident further up the field forced Grove to slow down in avoidance, subsequently losing a position to Sager who sneaked by on the inside at Turn 2 before a brief Safety Car period.

For the remainder of the encounter, the Melburnian was able to keep in touch with Sager, showing strong pace in the first 10-laps.

However, passing is notoriously hard at the tight and twisty Hungaroring leaving Grove’s options limited.

The three-time Carrera Cup Australia Pro-Am series winner was classified third in class at the chequered flag, which was good enough for 23rd outright, an improvement from his starting position.

He finished up seven seconds behind Sager at the line, Grove’s fourth top-three result in Pro-Am of the season, continuing his consistent form.

Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup now goes on its summer break, though Grove will have a test at Monza in Italy before flying back to Australia during the gap.

Round 7 takes place at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium from August 30-September 1.

STEPHEN GROVE QUOTEBOARD:

“I got a good jump at the start, the launch was good, but it bogged down a bit. We got through Turn 1 okay and picked up a couple of positions through there. As we went into Turn 2 there was a lot of smoke as we arrived and cars were going off and back on the circuit so I ended up hugging the inside and Phillipp Sager came up the inside as well; he pushed me wide and got by. It was pretty good from there, our times were pretty similar and I was just looking for an opportunity to pass him, working out where I was stronger and he was weaker. We missed the tyre pressures a bit and after about Lap 5 — the track temperature increasing by nine degrees — the tyres just went off. Sager was strong and we fell back a bit, so that was our race pretty well done; it came back to just conserving the tyres and maintaining third, which we did pretty comfortably.

“To get on the podium once at this level is good, but to do it now four times in a row is brilliant. We know that we’ve got the pace to take on Sager; Roar Lindland is a bit further up the road so we’ve got to keep working to get him. We did bridge the gap in qualifying to Lindland this weekend compared to previous rounds, I thought we did a good job there. We’ve just got to keep working hard at it.

“The test day at Monza this week coming will be really crucial. The most important thing will be to learn the circuit because it’s a high speed, heaving braking layout and one that I’ve never been to before. We’ll spend the day working on set up a bit as well. Those are probably the big things for the Monza test — we’ve got to keep our heads down in this last part of the season.”

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