DEFENDING CHAMPIONS ON TOP IN FRIDAY PRACTICE

 DEFENDING HI-TEC Oils Bathurst 6 Hour champions Sherrin Racing topped the charts on a Good Friday at Mount Panorama – though it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing for the BMW duo.

The Queensland-based brothers paced the first session on a stunning morning however suffered a significant gearbox failure late in the second of two held today, setting their preparation back.  

The car had set a quick 2m27.7160s flyer in the first session which was good enough to top the day: no one having gone quicker in the second session at the point the transmission failed while heading down Conrod straight.

The failure left an oil trail along much of the straight and would ultimately see the session called with 20 minutes remaining, due to the lengthy clean up required.

Beric Lynton and Tim Leahey were second overall, their 2018 pole-sitting BMW M3 Competition topping the charts in the abbreviated second practice session for the second quickest time overall.

Despite the late dramas, the Sherrin team remains positive in a day that saw them top both Class A and B today.

“It’s been a good start and the car feels good,” Iain Sherrin said.

“We made some changes to the car to tidy it up in practice two but it wasn’t big – just tuning it into the window.

“We were working on race stuff in the second session, economy, tyres and similar stuff so losing time with the transmission failing doesn’t help. But the boys will get it sorted.

“We’re very happy and the boys in the other car are doing a great job so it’s going well.”

The Lynton / Leahey BMW reported vibration issues in the first session, however bounced back strongly in the second to reaffirm the kind of performance that saw them key contenders in the 2018 race.

The duo are the defending Bathurst 6 Hour polesitters, having smashed the qualifying lap record last year.

The theme of the day was centred on teams and drivers adapting their cars to suit the new-for-2019 MRF Tyres, that make their debut this weekend.

Behind the quick BMWs, the Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X driven by Jordan Cox, Graeme Cox and Daniel Smith was third fastest overall today.

Jordan Cox set the car’s quickest time in the cooler morning session, while his co-drivers focussed on race runs rather than raw speed in the afternoon.

Fourth overall was the Krincorp Racing HSV GTS of Tony Virag, Joe Krinelos and John Bowe, the latter’s 2m30.0300s best in practice two putting the big Aussie-built Muscle car into the mix.

The Class B pacesetter was also fifth outright, David Russell punching out a flying 2m30.5780s in practice one to trail only the Sherrin BMW and Cox Mitsubishi in practice one.

Russell, who is sharing with his father Geoff in an endurance race for the first time in 16 years, was then fourth in practice two putting them right in the outright mix, as well as leading their class comfortably.

The returning GWR Australia Mercedes-AMG A45 was sixth overall in a strong performance from the race’s most experienced driving combination.

Their 2m30.8190s best in practice one adds another competitive brand into the mix this weekend.

The Race for a Cure GWR Australia Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X was another car in the mix; Ben Kavich, Garth Walden and Michael Kavich fifth in both sessions today and seventh overall on combined times.

The BMW M135i of Iain Salteri, Simon Hodges and Jayden Ojeda was next, narrowly quicker than the Jeremy Gray, George Miedecke and Andrew Miedecke FPV Falcon GT-F that also proved competitive across the day.

The No. 53 HSV Monaro of Rob Coulthard and Trevor Symonds topped A2 (Extreme Performance, Naturally Aspirated) with their 2m32.9650s in the morning session.

Second was the No. 64 Chris Lillis / Nathan Callaghan / Matthew Holt HSV VF Clubsport.

While the Russell father and son combination dominated Class B and featured in the top five outright, second was the Justin Elliot and Mark Caine Holden SS-V Redline.

Class C (Performance) saw the No. 87 BMW 130i of James Goldsbrough, Gavin Driscoll and Jake White on top thanks to their impressive 2m42.88s best in practice one.

Class D (Production) proved to be incredibly competitive, with just 0.3 seconds splitting the two fastest combinations across the two sessions.

Honours went to the Honda Integra of David Baker and Brian Callaghan, edging out the Jimmy Vernon / Harry Gray Toyota 86 in a tight tussle.

The Compact Class (E) went the way of last year’s winners – the No. 2 Mazda of Andrew McMaster, David Noble and David Worrell topping the charts.

Three red flag stoppages interrupted the otherwise clean day of running at Mount Panorama.  

The first came within the opening five minutes of practice one before most cars had an opportunity to bank a time, the No. 8 N-Gen Racing Hyundai i30N making contact with the fence on their first flying lap.

The car suffered significant damage to the front of the chassis with the team removing the car from the circuit in a bid to repair for tomorrow.

A second red flag was called when the No. 66 Subaru Impreza WRX STi of Dimitri Agathos, Matt Boylan and Graeme Heath took a trip through the gravel at the Chase and stopped with right-front damage, though was repaired in time for the second session.

The third red flag stopped practice two when the Sherrin Racing BMW’s gearbox blew on Conrod straight.

Saturday morning will see a further practice session commencing at 8:20am, before qualifying is contested over two parts from 2:35pm.

The field will be split into halves with the slowest 50% running first and the quickest next in a pair of 30-minute sessions.

Both sessions will feature live audio commentary via the Bathurst 6 Hour website.

Head to www.bathurst6hour.com.au