Just 0.4s separates top-10 in red hot qualifying session at Bathurst

2 February 2019

> Result: Qualifying

Just 0.4s covered the 10 drivers that have progressed to this afternoon’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour Pirelli Shootout following a scintillating qualifying session at Mount Panorama earlier today.

Indeed, the first 19 entries were ultimately separated by only a second during a 30-minute session that saw multiple teams, drivers and manufacturers take turns atop the order.

R Motorsport’s #62 Aston Martin will be the last to set a time in this afternoon’s Top-10 Shootout thanks to Jake Dennis’ late flying lap of 2m02.4127s. However, a two-place grid drop for speeding in the pitlane ensures third is the best he can hope for.

Instead, it’s Mercedes-AMG that look best placed to claim pole after four of their entries made it through. David Reynolds was just 0.01s shy of Dennis’ time and a similar margin ahead of the manufacturer’s fastest Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli registered entry driven by Maro Engel.

The car co-run by Craft-Bamboo and Black Falcon also made a late improvement to bump Yelmer Buurman’s Mercedes-AMG down to fourth after the Dutchman had previously held top-spot with only two minutes left on the clock.

Local Porsche specialist Matt Campbell was the first to bang in a truly representative time as the session ticked towards half-distance. Indeed, the best could be yet to come from Earl Bamber Motorsport’s #912 911 GT3 R, which only required one flying lap to make the Top-10 Shootout.

One of Bentley Team M-Sport’s Continental GT3s will also be in action this afternoon courtesy of Steven Kane whose late effort inadvertently knocked out team-mate Vincent Abril. So competitive was the session that the Monegasque missed out despite lapping just 0.4s shy of Dennis’ pole time. Kane was only two tenths faster in sixth.

Audi Sport Team Valvoline’s two R8 GT3s driven by Kelvin van der Linde and Christopher Haase finished 0.02s apart in seventh and eighth, while Friday practice pace-setter Raffaele Marciello only just made the cut aboard his GruppeM Racing Mercedes-AMG.

A fifth Intercontinental GT Challenge manufacturer, Nissan, will also contest this afternoon’s one-lap dash courtesy of KCMG’s Alexandre Imperatori who faced a nervous wait while others drivers completed their final laps. The GT-R NISMO GT3 will be first to run this afternoon.

However, there was disappointment for BMW and Ferrari, which both failed to progress.

Last season’s pole-sitter Chaz Mostert could only manage 15th aboard BMW Team Schnitzer’s M6, which finished one place behind the sister Team Walkenhorst car driven by Nicky Catsburg. The two 488 GT3s were only 22nd and 26th.

The Pirelli Top-10 Shootout commences at 16:40 AEDT (+11 GMT). Watch it live right here on the Intercontinental GT Challenge website.