THE LATEST and greatest in a long line of BMWs to try and conquer the Mountain has come out of the blocks in stunning fashion during practice for the Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour today.
Beric Lynton and Tim Leahey powered their new BMW M3 Competition to the fastest time across a pair of one-hour practice sessions to stun the most competitive field the race has yet seen.
Leahey’s 2m24.117 flyer set early in the morning’s first session was comfortably the fastest ever lap recorded by a Production Car at the Mountain and a full 1.3 seconds quicker than pole position last year.
The fastest times of the day came in the opening session – heat later in the day saw that session much slower than the first - with the Lynton / Leahey BMW leading Jordan Cox’s Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X RS by just over two seconds.
Cox was the surprise of the day, jumping to second outright late in the first session aboard the Lancer he’ll share with dad, Graeme, and car owner Michael King.
Grant and Iain Sherrin banked the third fastest time in their BMW M4 while Dylan Thomas and Tim Slade were fourth fastest in their CGR Performance Mitsubishi Lancer EVO.
Queenslander Lynton, a former Australian Production Car champion, and Orange-based Leahey said they were understandably pleased with the performance of their M3.
“We ran the car at Challenge Bathurst last November so we knew what we had, but the balance out of the box was perhaps the most impressive thing,” Leahey said.
“The time I set was a clear lap, no traffic on new tyres and in cool conditions so it was the perfect set of circumstances, but the car was good.”
Lynton explained that the team was already looking well ahead to the long-run potential within the car.
“We did a pad change at the end of practice two just because the boys had never done one, and we think we’ll need new pads in the race,” he said.
“The pace is good but we’re still understanding what the car will be like over the distance. It’s a lot harder on the right-front tyre, the brakes and uses a lot more fuel than the old car (Lynton raced a BMW 1M until this year) so we are learning about that.
“We were a bit surprised everyone wasn’t faster in the afternoon session given that’s about the time of day we all qualified last year, but we’re focussing on our own race and our own car.”
2016 six-hour winners Nathan Morcom and Chaz Mostert were fifth fastest in their DPO Ford Focus RS today however spent much of the second session in pit lane chasing temperature related issues.
The first Mercedes-AMG A45 came next with Garth Walden and Craig Baird sixth in practice one – and a promising third in the slower afternoon session.
Daniel Stuttered / Steve Owen were seventh in their Mitsubishi, Rob Woods / Marcel Zalloua and Steve Johnson eighth in the second GWR A45 Mercedes-AMG and the Supercharged Ford Falcon FG GT-F of Jeremy Gray and George Miedecke ninth.
Tenth overall was the Mitsubishi Lancer EVO of Paul Loiacono, Peter Lown and Jimmy Vernon.
The Fibre 15 was second fastest in the afternoon session with Vernon’s 2m29.337 trailing only the Lynton / Leahey M3 in the afternoon heat and good enough for 10th overall.
A surprise inclusion towards the top of the leaderboard was the B2-class Holden Commodore SSV Redline driven by Joe Krinelos, Tony Virag and Brett Howard – who not only topped their class but edged into the top-10 outright in the first session and a remarkable 11th overall for the day.
With Beric Lynton and Tim Leahey quickest in class A1, A2 was topped by the Hodges / Coulthard HSV Commodore 2m31.365s.
The Gore / Bensley / Galang BMW 135i topped B1 (High Performance – Forced Induction) with a 2m33.41s with the Howard / Virag / Krinelos Commodore 10th outright and first in B2 (High Performance – Normally Aspirated).
Subaru topped Class C (Performance) thanks to a strong run from the MY06 Impreza and a 2m39.76s lap set by Andrew Williams.
The Honda Integra driven by David Baker topped Class D while the Nissan Pulsar – steered in practice one by Iain Salteri – topped Class E.
Competitors completed more than 1600 laps of Mount Panorama today with only two red flags halting proceedings across the two sessions.
Practice one was halted briefly for a car stranded on circuit with mechanical issues, while Practice two was called four minutes short of it’s scheduled duration when the Midwest Multimedia Volkswagen Golf R stopped at the Cutting.
The Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour field will tackle a third, 60-minute practice session on Saturday morning, prior to a two-part qualifying that will set the grid for Sunday’s six-hour race.
Audio coverage and live timing will be available for tomorrow’s race via the Bathurst 6 Hour website, while Sunday’s race will be streamed live for international audiences, and broadcast live in Australia on FOX Sports 505.
COMBINED RESULTS – Practice 1, 2
- Lynton / Leahey (BMW M3) 2m24.117
- King / Cox / Cox (Mitsubishi Lancer) 2m26.443
- Sherrin / Sherrin (BMW M4) 2m26.873
- Thomas / Slade (Mitsubishi Lancer) 2m26.906
- Morcom / Mostert (Ford Focus RS) 2m28.403
- Walden / Baird (Mercedes AMG A45) 2m28.438
- Stuttered / Owen (Mitsubishi Lancer) 2m28.716
- Woods / Zalloua / Johnson (Mercedes AMG A45) 2m28.834
- Gray / Miedecke (Ford Falcon FG GT-F) 2m29.125
- Loiocano / Lown / Vernon (Mitsubishi Lancer) 2m29.337