BERIC LYNTON and Tim Leahey have become the first repeat polesitters in Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour history, backing up their 2018 efforts with a second Mount Panorama pole position in qualifying for the 2019 race today.
As it was last year, Leahey needed just one lap to comfortably take pole position aboard the flying BMW M3 Competition that also dominated in one-lap pace last year.
His 2m24.80s best was set on his only flying lap and ensured the No 23 BMW enjoyed a handy pole margin for the second straight year.
Jordan Cox flew in his Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X to qualify second, the first time a brand other than a BMW will have started on the front row in 6-hour history.
The story was all Tim Leahey though - who for the second year in succession starred with a one-lap screamer early in qualifying to secure pole.
“It was a tricky session just with the tyres – I hadn’t run on a new tyre so wasn’t sure what level to run,” Leahey said.
“So I just had a red hot crack on the green tyre, and that was all we had.
“Pole is great to pump up all the boys, but tomorrow is all business. Tomorrow is the day. All our work has been geared towards the race setup so lets hope that works for us.”
While the combination will be cognisant that the race has never yet been won from pole, they agreed it was still a feat worth celebrating.
“You’ve got to celebrate a pole, everyone does,” the Orange-based car dealer said.
“It’s good for my driving.. I’m nearly spent! I had a birthday last weekend so I’m getting old, so this is good!”
Jordan Cox’s efforts saw the Mitsubishi he’ll share with his dad – Graeme – and Daniel Smith qualify on the front row for the first time, improving from his fourth-placed qualifying effort last year.
“We’re very happy, it was good,” Cox said.
“To split the BMWs is good and we didn’t expect to be second so we’re very happy with that. The performance is down to everything – we’ve got a good team, good preparation and a good setup and we’ve been working hard on it. It’s a good combination.
“We’ve got our fingers crossed for tomorrow – it’s a long race and it’s our goal to finish.”
Defending winners Sherrin Racing qualified third, however had a far from easy pathway to the second row of the grid.
Early issues with a loose exhaust system saw them spend much of the first 20-minutes of the session in pit lane sorting the issues. Once resolved, Iain Sherrin had less than 10 minutes to set a competitive time – banking their 2m27.9800s with less than five minutes remaining to make it onto the second row.
However the recovery effort did create a small piece of history for the Queensland team: Though not in order, In four years of the Bathurst six-hour they’ve now qualified either first, second, third or fourth.
Two BMW M4s will start on the second row: The Anthony Soole / Andrew Fisher car just 0.4s behind the defending winners in another impressive performance.
Fifth was the class B polesitter, David Russell’s stunning efforts seeing him charge to the third row of the grid in the BMW M135i he will share with his father, Bathurst veteran Geoff.
Garth Walden made it two Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions in the top six, the Race for a Cure car showing strong pace throughout the weekend to date.
George Miedecke was one-and-done in the Ford FPV GTF he’ll share with Andrew Miedecke and Jeremy Gray this weekend, qualifying seventh via a one-lap dash early in the session before pitting to save tyres for tomorrow.
Teenager Zac Raddatz and Jack Winter impressed by qualifying eighth in their Mitsubishi Lancer, the pair stepping up into the outright class car after making their Bathurst debut last year.
John Bowe hauled the Krincorp Racing HSV GTS he’ll share with Joe Krinelos and Tony Virag to ninth place, while impressive young-gun Jayden Ojeda qualified 10th in the BMW M135i he’ll race with Simon Hodges and Iain Salteri.
Class A2 was a tight battle for pole, just 0.8 seconds covering the three fastest cars.
Pole – and 12th outright – went to the No. 64 Cachet Homes HSV GTS, Nathan Callaghan doing the driving duties in qualifying.
Second, less than a second behind, was the Rob Coulthard / Trevor Symonds HSV while the brand-new BMW M3 of Anthony Gilbertson and Andrew Mill was third, only 0.03s behind the big Commodore.
Pole in Class C went to Jake Williams, aboard the No. 89 Pinnacle Automotive BMW, while David Baker did the business in the No. 47 Online Hire Honda Integra Type R to take pole in Class D.
Kiwi Chris Holdt was fastest in Class E on his Bathurst debut, aboard the mainly New Zealand-prepared Mazda he’ll share with Alan Turner and Ross Donaldson.
The 2019 Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour will commence at 11:30am on Easter Sunday.
The race will be live in Australia on FOX Sports 506 and Kayo Sports, and available for international audiences via the Bathurst 6 Hour website via a free, live stream.