Laurens Vanthoor laid down the marker in the final practice session of the 2015 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour as the teams prepare for qualifying.
The Phoenix Audi driver put in the best lap of the weekend so far with a time of 2:03.5375 ahead of the Nissan with Katsumasa Chiyo in the car. In fact it was the fastest time by a GT car around Bathurst beating last year’s lap record of a 2:03.8506 that was set by Shane Van Gisbergen during the 2014 race.
There were other stand out performances during the session with the IMAK Porsche, which had a troubled day yesterday, going into sixth with Matt Campbell behind the wheel.
Erebus Racing’s Jack Le Brocq was good enough for fourth in the Mercedes SLS GT3, putting in a time 2:05.4121.
There could have been quicker times though as, for example, the Nissan was gearing up for another flying lap before the session was brought to a premature end with Chris Pither hitting the wall in the Ice Break Porsche.
The team said that it was ABS issues that pitched the Porsche into the wall and at the end of practice they were unsure whether if the damage would be too severe to repair in time for qualifying. The car would have been a dark horse for the session with Pat Long behind the wheel.
Another car in a race to make qualifying is the Darrel Lea McLaren after the team only compelted three laps in qualifying. After making alterations overnight the team said there was ‘some kind of blockage’ in the car and now they are in a race to diagnose and fix the issues before the 12:55pm qualifying session.
Practice five was without the Maranello Motorsport Ferrari 458 GT3. The defending champions crashed heavily in the opening practice session, destroying the car.
The team had hoped to lease or purchase the second AF Corse Ferrari that is at the track but was withdrawn earlier this week. Negotiations lasted into the night and the team thought they were close to a miraculous comeback but it was not to be. Negotiations broke down and the team has officially withdrawn.
As have the Wall Racing Porsche. The team that was fastest in Class B in practice one was unable to repair the car overnight and have also withdrawn.
Happily though, the #99 Craft Bamboo Aston Martin did make it out on track after being involved in the crash with the Maranello Ferrari. The car was heavily damaged in the front end and it was still being repaired into the night last night. They made it out however, shaking the car down.
The car completed 12 laps in the session with a best time of 2:11.2470.
It was behind the leading B Class runners with the Grove Group Porsche leading the session and cementing their place as a favourite for class pole. Their time of 2:09.5884 put them ahead of a couple of the GT3 runners and 1.7 seconds clear of the next Class B runner – the Superbarn Supermarkets Porsche with Theo Koundouris behind the wheel.
Like yesterday’s sessions, Class C was led by the Donut King Lotus (2:19.1928), Class D was taken by the Daytona Coupe (2:14.4074) and Class I was taken by the #93 MARC Cars Ford Focus (2:12.0946).
If the best sector times were combined, the best lap would have been down in the 2:02.8 region but those sector times were set by three different cars. There have been predictions of a pole lap in the 2:02s or even dipping into the 2:01s, should the conditions be right.
The qualifying session gets underway at 12:55pm with a one hour session for all cars before a 20 minute session for Class A cars.