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Campbell Puts Absolute Porsche On Provisional Pole

Qualifying marred by multiple huge incidents

Matt Campbell has put the #911 Absolute Racing Porsche on provisional pole, in an interrupted pair of qualifying sessions.

Campbell’s 2:03.4336 was the head of the field, a tenth ahead of Maro Engel in the #77 Craft-Bamboo Black Falcon Mercedes. Third was the #60 59Racing McLaren 720S, with Alvaro Parente at the wheel, the Portuguese former winner posting a late 2:03.602.

Oppressive heat meant lap times were over 2 seconds away from the lap record, with greasy track conditions preventing the absolute pace most teams were expecting. The temperature was also a factor in some of the big incidents.

The top 10 cars from qualifying go through to this afternoon’s Shootout. Following the #60 McLaren, the top 5 was completed by the #999 GruppeM Mercedes AMG of Rafaelle Marciello, and the #1 EBM Porsche of Laurens Vanthoor.

The #222 Audi Sport Team Valvoline Audi, the #18 KCMG Nissan, the #76 R-Motorsport Aston Martin, the #63 Orange 1 FFF Racing Lamborghini, and the #888 Triple Eight Race Engineering Mercedes AMG completed the top 10, and will, therefore, appear later today to contest for the Allan Simonsen Pole award.

A late red flag in Q2 brought an end to proceedings ahead of time, with many drivers on fast laps at the call of the red. Dean Canto in the #29 Trofeo Motorsport Lamborghini lost the rear on the entry of McPhillamy, spearing through the gravel and launching off the tyre wall, coming to a rest sitting on the tyres adjacent to the marshal post.

Significantly, the red flag prevented David Reynolds in the #75 Sun Energy1 Mercedes, and Dries Vanthoor in the #2 Audi Sport Team Valvoline cars from improving; both missing the top 10 while setting personal best times as the red flag came out.

Other teams to miss the Shoot-Out include the Bentley #7, who were bumped out at the very end, and the #34 Walkenhorst BMW.

Qualifying 1, setting the grid for the Invitational and GT4 classes, saw the #91 Racer Industries MARC II lead, with Nick Percat setting a 2:05.5373. Percat had prior set a 2:04.8551, which was deleted due to exceeding the minimum lap time as set by the regulations.

The GT4 class sees the #13 RHC Jorgensen-Storm BMW start ahead of the #19 Griffith Corp Mercedes.

Both sessions were marred by heavy incidents across the top of the mountain. In Q1, contact between the #6 Wall Racing Lamborghini and the rear of the #777 Triple Eight Race Engineering Mercedes on the exit of McPhillamy fired the AMG into the concrete just before Skyline, with the car coming to a rest against the wall driver’s left.

While the #34 Walkenhorst BMW and #91 Racer Industries MARC II managed to avoid the stricken #777 Mercedes, Tyler Everingham in the #92 MARC II collected the rear of the Mercedes, resulting in heavy contact for the MARC car into the wall at Skyline.

The destroyed MARC II came to a rest in the tarmac run-off in The Esses, and Everingham managed to crawl out of the car. He was taken to town for an examination of his leg, while Sam Shahin, the driver of the #777 AMG, was helped from the car of Dirk Mueller. Sam Shahin will be flown home to Adelaide to undergo further scans.

While there has been no official word, neither the #777 AMG or the #92 MARC II are expected to make the start tomorrow.

Another accident later brought Q2 to a stop, with the #62 R-Motorsport Aston Martin destroyed after an incident at the Metal Grate. Marvin Kirchhöfer tagged the wall at the first Grate, resulting in rear-end loose. The car hit the wall at the second Grate rear first, before scraping across the roll and rolling, before coming to a rest at the Vista.

Kirchhöfer was helped from the car by Renger van der Zande but otherwise walked away from the incident. The car, however, has been destroyed and looks highly unlikely to be repaired for the race.

Next up is the Top 10 Shootout which is set to start at 17:05 local time.