Bryce Washington and Greg Crick have staged an almighty battle for outright honors in this weekend’s fifth round of the 2006 Speed Energy Drink Australian GT Championship at Mallala Raceway.

The pair – the two top contenders in the championship battle since the opening round – traded race wins, fastest laps and even a side-by-side finish in a ferociously competitive round at the 2.6km South Australian circuit today, Washington scoring his second round victory of the season after taking two of the three races.

Washington convincingly won this morning’s opening 20-lap encounter, before a late race flourish from Crick in the second saw the pair go side by side to the line in a thrilling finish. The final margin was .0161s after Crick was forced to avoid a lapped car as the two crossed the line.

A fifth place finish on rapidly diminishing rubber in the third race was enough to give the local driver overall honors by just four points.

“I had the guys on the radio during the final race saying ‘don’t loose any more positions’!” Washington said.

“The Tyres were gone and I was also having dramas selecting gears which is why a couple of cars were able to pass me coming onto the start finish straight. I dropped to sixth but when Koundouris got a black flag I got back into fifth place and that was enough.

“It’s been a really good weekend and it’s nice to take home the first place trophy.” He said.

Championship leader Crick had a competitive day, biding his time early in each of today’s races before an all out attack on Washington. The Viper then jumped to the lead off the start in the third race, eventually winning by three seconds and doing enough to secure second overall.

“If I had been on the money Friday I think we would have had a better chance today,” Crick said.

“I was really happy with the car, it was very good. We’ve finally found a rear tyre that can last the entire race which meant we were able to challenge strongly all day today.

“We made some changes to the suspension between each race and it kept getting better and better. It’s been a good weekend and we haven’t lost too many points in the series.” He said.

Third overall was David Wall, who took his Porsche RSR to second, fifth and fourth-place results in the three races, respectively.

An off in the final race after a coming together with James Koundouris saw the young New South Wales based driver charge back through the field to narrowly miss the race podium.

“We made some changes overnight because the car wasn’t as fast as we would’ve liked in qualifying,” he explained.

Theo Koundouris lead home the Canberra-based duo this weekend, Brother James in the wars in the second race after being served with a drive through penalty thanks to a ‘driving incident’ that saw him come into contact with Washington, and then Wall in the northern hairpin.

Ferrari driver David Stevens survived a 225kph spin in the second race to finish fifth overall, once again proving the potential of the still-wingless Ferrari F430 Challenge.

Stevens’ off came at the high speed kink at Mallala today, the car spinning at high speed before the Brennan IT Driver was able to recover to an eventual sixth for the race.

“I was pulling out to pass a lapped car and because the car still doesn’t have the aero it got loose and around I went,” said Stevens.

“The car is very quick – If I can keep it on the island for an entire race I think it will be even better!” he smiled.

Stevens had some reward for his weekend’s efforts – second in the final race and a new Mallala Lap record for the category, the new benchmark of 1m09.7070 set in the opening race.

Local driver Graeme Cook (Container Solutions Porsche GT3 Cup Car) used his home circuit knowledge to his full advantage this weekend to score 7th overall today, beating Sven Burchartz (M+K / Sonic Porsche GT3 Cup Car) by a solitary point. Shaun Juniper and Max Twigg completed the round top ten.

Greg Crick continues to lead the Speed Energy Drink Australian GT Championship following today’s fifth round, leading Washington 431 – 382 points as the series heads to its next scheduled round at Phillip Island in late August.

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