18 April 2014 | General


A GOOD FRIDAY with near-perfect weather has seen practice and qualifying completed at the Bathurst Motor Festival at the start of the Easter long weekend.Seven different classes of racing and regularity competitors took to the Mountain today, ahead of race competition commencing tomorrow morning and carrying through until Easter Sunday concludes.A host of significant national-level drivers are featuring at the Festival this weekend, with several notable competitors using the weekend to gain rare laps at Mount Panorama.Dick Johnson Racing V8 Supercar racer David Wall, fresh off a career-best race result at Winton recently, plus a trio of Porsche Carrera Cup stars are competing in the Production Sports Car races this weekend.Team BRM / VIP Petfoods driver Duvashen Padayachee and Garth Walden Racing’s Ash Samadi are running their current-specification Type-991 Porsche GT3 Cup Cars, while the Toshiba / Copyworld-backed Michael Almond is sharing a previous-generation 997 GT3 Cup with Nick Creswell.Almond, who has only limited running at the Mountain prior to this weekend, says the opportunity to get laps at Mount Panorama was one too good to miss.”It’s great to be here, any chance to get track time at this place is too good to miss. I’m actually racing the same car I raced for nearly two seasons in GT3 Cup Challenge, so it’s good to be back in it again.”The plan is just to ‘creep up on it’ this weekend and get as many laps as possible. With the differences in cars in this field it will be pretty busy – you’ll need to be looking for blue flags warning about slower cars ahead and driving with eyes in the back of your head for the quicker cars behind, at the same time.”But it’s all good laps and experience for when Porsche Carrera Cup races here in October.”Former Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge winner Kane Rose and current competitors David Ryan, Steve McFadden, Anthony Skinner are also amongst the field.Other notables also competing this weekend include Australian GT racers Rod Salmon (Audi), Steve McLaughlin (Audi), Keith Kassulke (Ascari), Justin McMillan (Lamborghini), Indiran Padayachee (Porsche) and Mark Griffith (Ginetta), amongst others.Radical Australia Cup champion Neale Muston is also amongst the Prod Sports car field this weekend, racing a Porsche 997 Gt3 Cup Car that he heavily damaged at the same event twelve months ago.Rod Salmon topped the Driver ‘A’ session, lapping closest to the 2m15s ‘benchmark’ time allowed in the session. Muston was second, with Padayachee third and Andrew MacPherson fourth in his Porsche.Qualifying was split into two sessions for Driver A and B, however not every car will run multiple drivers meaning the second session served as more of an extended test for some.Padayachee topped that session with Muston and Wall completing the top three. The Production Sports Car series will tackle two, 35-minute races tomorrow prior to their one-hour enduro on Sunday afternoon.Simon Hodge scored pole position for the third round of the Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship in a day of frustrating running for the wings-n-slicks category.Qualifying was red-flagged twice during an incident-filled session that saw a majority of competitors only complete two flying laps before being forced to return to pit lane.Check out a full wrap up of the Formula 3 qualifying session here.The age-old battle between Mitsubishi and Subaru continued in ‘Driver A’ qualifying for the New South Wales Production Touring Car Series races this weekend, Dylan Thomas (Mitsubishi) edging out Ben Kavich (Subaru) by just 0.3 seconds in a tight battle.Brett Heeley (HSV GTS) qualified third and Steve Hodges fourth in his GTS Coupe.The order looked to remain the same for much of the second session however a flying run from BMW M3 driver Nathan Geier late in ‘Driver B’ qualifying saw the German brand jump to the top of the charts and score a stunning and surprise pole position.Geier is sharing the BMW with Phil Showers this weekend with the pair looking to take it up to the usually dominant four-wheel-drive turbos on the Mountain.Chevrolet Camaros dominated qualifying for the Historic Group N Touring Cars today, Dean Neville and Vince Macri locking out the front row with a commanding performance today.Darryl Hansen qualified third in his Ford Mustang, ahead of Canberran Jason Foley, driving an XA Ford Falcon GT.In the two regularity classes, more than 110 New South Wales Road Racing Club competitors logged laps in two groups today, with more than 50 Porsche’s doing the same in the Porsche Club NSW regularity sessions.The regularity trials – against the clock – commence tomorrow.Entry to the Mount Panorama precinct is via bank note donation to official Event charity, Legacy, tomorrow and Sunday.