BMW ENTRANTS have dominated the early running as practice for the inaugural Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour commenced today at Mount Panorama.
Luke Searle and Barry Graham (BMW M135i) combined to top the times across a pair of 50-minute practice sessions today, their 2m27.00s lap edging out the No. 19 Sherrin Rentals BMW 135i by just 0.086s in a competitive start for the brand-new Bathurst enduro.
CLICK HERE for all of today's results.
Both BMWs set their fastest times in a cool early morning practice session, while light rain during the lunch break ahead of practice two made the afternoon running slightly slower for the outright pace, though Searle topped that session too.
Searle’s practice one lap was 0.1s beneath the Mount Panorama production car lap record (set by Terry Bosnjack, driving a Mazda RX-7, in 1999) and only 0.2s slower than Steve Owen’s qualifying record set for the 2010 Bathurst 12 Hour.
In a day dominated by the German marque’s, the brand-new Mercedes Benz A45 AMG entered by Garth Walden and Ben Porter finished the day third overall – second quickest in practice two.
The impressive new car had only completed limited testing prior to this morning’s opening session however ran faultlessly and quickly to place itself as an outright contender early in the running.
Experienced production car campaigners Beric Lynton and Tim Leahey finished fourth in the Bruce Lynton BMW 1M just edging out the DPO-supported 335i driven by Nathan Morcom and V8 Supercars ace Chaz Mostert.
Mostert hauled the now near 10-year-old BMW into fifth place on the combined times at the end of the second practice session.
The strong Mitsubishi brigade focussed on race preparation today with the lead CXC Global Racing Lancer EVO X of Dylan Thomas and Terry Nightingale sixth overall.
All 50 cars entered for the race successfully completed laps today.
Tomorrow’s 6-Hour sessions include a further practice session tomorrow morning prior to a two-part qualifying in the afternoon.
A one-hour session for all cars will be followed by a 15-minute standalone session for the fastest 20 cars from qualifying one.
In other Bathurst Motor Festival action, qualifying was held for the three race categories that are part of the program this weekend.
Vince Macri (Camaro) edged out fellow Chevrolet driver Dean Neville for pole in the Castrol Historic Touring Car qualifying session, just 0.5s splitting the pair.
John Harrison and Daryl Hansen qualified their Ford Mustang’s on the second row while Bathurstian Michael Anderson will start his Falcon GTHO from fifth on the grid for tomorrow’s first race.
A bumper 58-car field qualified for the FUSO HQ Holden races with Rod Raatjes scoring pole over Brett Osborn by just under 0.5 seconds.
A 55-car cap on the grids this weekend mean that three cars will miss the start of the first race, however will remain available as reserves should others strike dramas.
Two qualifying sessions were held for competitors racing in the NSW Production Sports Car series this weekend – one for driver A and one for Driver B ahead of their one hour, two-driver race tomorrow.
The Australian GT Championship Ferrari 488 GT3 of Tony Defelice and Benny Simonsen was quickest in both sessions – Defelice the first and Simonsen the second – in its Mount Panorama debut.
Scott Taylor (Porsche GT3R) and multiple V8 Ute champion Ryal Harris (Porsche GT3 Cup Car) swapped second and third places in the two sessions, respectively, with Neale Muston and Daniel Stutterd (both in Porsche’s) next.
The Prod Sports race will include the father-son combination of Ryan and Peter McLeod, the pair combining in one of Ryan’s famous MARC Cars Australia entries.
Action continues at Mount Panorama tomorrow (Saturday April 26) with tickets available at the gate starting from $15 for Adults. Live timing and scoring will be available via the Bathurst Motor Festival website.
TOP 10 – HI-TEC OILS BATHURST 6 HOUR
Practice sessions 1 & 2 Combined
- Searle / Graham (A1) BMW M135i 2m27.000
- Sherrin / Sherrin / Ayres (B1) BMW 135i 2m27.086
- Walden / Auld (A1) Mercedes-Benz AMG A45 2m28.949
- Lynton / Leahey (A1) BMW 1M 2m29.020
- Morcom / Mostert (B1) BMW 335i 2m29.137
- Thomas / Nightingale (A1) Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X RS 2m29.891
- Pollicina / O’Dowd (A1) Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X RS 2m30.428
- Caine / Murphy (A1) Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X RS 2m31.089
- Wall / Bowe (A1) Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX 2m31.759
- Scott / Handley (A1) Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX 2m32.082
A1 (Extreme Performance, Forced Induction): Searle / Graham (BMW M135i)
A2 (Extreme Performance, Normally Aspirated): Virag / Gray / Millett (HSV VE GTS)
B1 (High Performance Forced Induction): Sherrin / Sherrin / Ayres (BMW 135i)
B2 (High Performance Normally Aspirated): Williams / Windsor / Muggleton (Holden VE SS)
C (Performance): Eddy / Jouy: (Renault Megane RS265)
D: Reeves / Caine (Production): (Toyota 86 GTS)
E (Compact): Kirkham / Kirkham (Mazda MX6)
I (Invitational): Kearns / Cowham (Ford Falcon AU)