THEY may have dominated qualifying, but the drivers of the dominant BMW brigade say they’re far from sure things in today’s Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour.
The BMW M3 of Beric Lynton and Tim Leahey stormed to pole position in qualifying yesterday with a record 2m22.9s lap – comfortably the fastest every lap from a Production Car at Mount Panorama.
The Sherrin Racing BMW M4 that scored pole position last year also lapped comfortably quicker than their 2017 best, though their 2m24-second best was still nearly two seconds behind the Lynton / Leahey machine.
In reaction to the BMWs supreme performance in qualifying, race officials have overnight issued a bulletin mandating a 120mm minimum ride height for both cars, as well as the Nissan Pulsars that dominated qualifying in Class E.
The event sporting and technical regulations (Chapter 3, Item 3.18) allow the Technical Director to alter any vehicle’s minimum ride height, minimum racing weight or a change in the maximum allowable boost if deemed necessary.
However, years of experience in the Production Car racing has Lynton cautious about the performance of his new car regardless of any Balance of Performance changes.
“We don’t know how it will go,” the former Australian Production Car champion said.
“We have this car in the window with setup, but that comes from running a 1M for five years and we’ve learned so much that helped us build the car and do what it’s done today (in Qualifying).
“We don’t know the car, we haven’t don’t anything longer than a 40-minute stint in the car and we’ve only done a couple of them.
“Race pace tomorrow I think will be (two minute) 28s or 29s. It’s meant to be 30 degrees like Friday and hotter than qualifying.
“I think like everyone we’ll struggle with heat over that time: Cars retain heat. We need to manage brakes, tyres and fuel because it’s not as good as the 1M was.”
Lynton said that while the speed of the M3 was impressive, it would be counted by other issues that would make their race a significant challenge and ensured victory was far from a sure thing.
“At the moment we will have to change pads in the race,” he said.
“We flew a different brand of pad down last night and we bedded them in this morning (in Practice three), so we need to pull them off and measure and decide, but we’re up for a pad change.
“That will cost us in a pitstop... so whilst we’re quick we’ll have to do things others don’t in a stop like a pad change and an extra fuel stop.
“That’s the BoP we have, but if we get one we have to deal with it.”
Meanwhile, the Sherrin Rentals team believes twelve months of development on their BMW M4 is now paying dividends in their quest for a Bathurst win.
The Queensland brothers finished second in the 2016 race and led comfortably last year before mechanical issues struck what was the fastest car in the race.
“We’ve got 12 months’ worth of development on those guys so we’re probably ahead of the curve on what we can and can’t do,” Iain Sherrin said.
“Where these cars compare is that they are absolutely heavier on fuel and brakes and tyres.
“We blew a front tyre here las year and that lead to a lot of the issues that ultimately put us out of the race. Those things must be managed.
“You put in qualy setup, but you certainly can’t run it and do six hours on it. The development we’ve had over 12 months has helped us understand what we have to do over the race and that puts us in good stead.”
Despite lapping quicker than they qualified last year, Sherrin said their team’s focus yesterday was far from one-lap pace.
“We’ve been creeping up on it all weekend and not in a rush to jump into it too quickly like last year,” he explained.
“We’re making sure we’ve go all the boxes ticked. We had a bit of a qualifying setup – it’s not something you’d put in a race. Grant just wanted a nice, clean flowing lap and that’s what we got.
“The other boys were just too good and perhaps the extra 13kw in the competition pack M3 is the difference!”
The Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour starts at 11:30am today, with coverage commencing on FOX Sports 505 at 11:15am.
Streaming coverage of this morning’s support category action will commence via the Bathurst 6 hour website at 7:50am.
Live audio coverage will also be available to all audiences, both Australian and abroad, today via links on the event website.
Click the link to the coverage guide to get all the information.