Stephen Grove claimed Morris Finance Pro-Am round honours in the Porsche Paynter Dixon Carrera Cup Australia season-opener at Sandown.
Condensed into a two-day event at the Victorian circuit, Stephen jumped back behind the wheel of his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car for a trio of thrilling races.
The Melbournian walked away from the weekend with a handful of trophies having put on a show in the races and collected his 16th round victory in Carrera Cup Australia.
Grove started Race 1 fourth in class after a competitive qualifying session and knew he had some hard work ahead of him.
Fighting through the field, the three-time Carrera Cup Pro-Am champion’s experience shone through as he made his way to the front and consolidated his lead before bringing home the Pro-Am win in the first race of the year.
“I was a fair way down the grid so I knew I needed to push on early,” he explained.
“I got a couple of spots at turn one.. there was some biffing and barging going on so I picked the right line and got through.
“As soon as we got to the front I just pushed as hard as I could. I pushed to lap 10 or 11 and after that just conserved, because I wanted to make sure our tyres were good for Sunday.”
Sunday started off just as well for Grove as he scored another Pro-Am victory in Race 2, albeit in tricky wet conditions for the enduro.
After making a good start Grove kept all four wheels on the road despite the wet weather and held off Adrian Flack for a hard-fought win at the end of 27 laps.
“It was important to get a good start; I got a really good start and then focussed on trying to drive off-line and work out where the grip is around the circuit,” Grove said about Race 2.
“We were slipping and sliding a lot and I knew the boys were coming behind so I had to have my eyes forward.
“It was probably one of the hardest races I’ve ever had mentally because the level of concentration was extreme.”
Conditions weren’t much better for Race 3, but Grove was able to gain two positions overall from 15th outright to take the chequered flag 13th outright.
A second-place result in Pro-Am in Race 3 was good enough for him to secure the round win.
“It’s always important to start the season strongly and we’ve done that this weekend,” Grove added.
“The conditions were really challenging today and we had some great battles with Adrian. It’s going to be a really competitive season but this was the best way to start.”