Kelvin van der Line pushed hard and set the fastest lap of the two Qualifying sessions at Mount Panorama today, which decided who would make the Top 10 Shootout and the grid slots from 11th down for tomorrow’s 12 Hour.
Van der Linde’s time was a rapid 2:02.345, just over a second off the all-time lap record set in 2016, in the #22 Jamec Pem Audi R8 LMS GT3 in the Class A only-session, to go 0.0290 clear of the other runners.
Second in the session was eventually the #43 Schnitzer BMW M6 GT3, Chaz Mastert jumping up the order with a 2:02.374 just before the session was red flagged for the Lago Racing Lamborghini stopping out on track.
The top three was completed by the #100 BMW Team SRM M6 GT3, Phillip Eng completing just two laps in the session, an out lap and a flyer, en route to third with his time eventually a 2:02.527.
It was extremely tight between the Class A runners, who all jostled for position to get into the Top 10 Shootout. By the end of the session there was just eight tenths separating the top 13.
The other cars which made it into the shootout are the #47 YNA Autosport McLaren (the fastest Pro-Am runner), #12 Competition Motorsports Porsche, #58 YNA Autosport McLaren, #74 Jamec Pem Audi, #8 WRT Audi, #777 Bend Motorsport Park Lamborghini and #17 M-Sport Bentley.
There were plenty of big name drivers and teams that failed to make the cut, neither Strakka Mercedes snuck in (finishing 11th and 12th), nor did the Manthey Racing and Craft Bamboo factory-supported Porsches.
The session was interrupted twice, once for the stranded Lago Lambo at the very end, and twice for a sizeable incident early in the session, when Lee Holdsworth’s #9 Audi Sport Customer Racing R8 LMS GT3 went head-on into the wall at Griffin’s Bend on driver’s right.
The shunt, which saw him run wide and lose the rear-end, sending him spearing into the concrete, damaged the front end, and rear-right corner of the car heavily, leaving the mechanics with a lot of work to do to get it out for the race.
“I committed to the throttle too early, these things don’t like kerbs and they snap real quick,” Holdsworth admitted. “I’m really sorry for Mark and Dean. I hope we can get out on track tomorrow. This is another track that’s unforgiving. We’ll put our heads down and try and get it back.”
His teammate Dean Fiore meanwhile, was far more up-beat and positive that the car could be repaired.
“Audi Sport Customer Racing are great, they’ve got the parts, they’ve got the people. They’ll sort it out,” he said in an interview with 7Mate.
The opening session meanwhile, whicg decided the grid order for Classes B, C and I, and proved to be an intense affair.
After 45 minutes of running, the #91 MARC Cars Australia MARC II V8 took Pole in the Invitational Class, with a 2:06.118; the # 67 Gotzinger MARC II V8 ended up second.
In Class B, Grove Motorsport took the class pole, WEC regular Ben Barker steering the team’s Porsche to the top sot with a 2:08.071.
And in Class C, the Boat Works Racing BMW M4 GT4 set the pace, Aaron Seton reeling off a 1:16.262. The #44 BMW Team SRM M4 GT4 ended up second, ahead of the #13 MARC GT M4 which made it an all-M4 top three in the class.
During the session, trouble struck the PROsport Performance Cayman, Nico Verdonck stopping out on track, bringing out red flags.
This afternoon’s Top 10 Shootout is set to begin at 16:15 local time in Australia.