Van Gisbergen grabs pole in closest ever Bathurst 6 Hour qualifying
SHANE van Gisbergen has helped BMW continue their unbroken streak of Bathurst success by scoring pole position for the Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour, topping the closest ever qualifying session for the Production Car classic.
Sharing a car with Rob Rubis and Shane Smollen, the flying Kiwi was left alone to qualify the car for tomorrow’s race and continued his unabated sweep of success this year by setting a 2m25.4399s flyer that could not be beaten by the strongest field in race history.
FULL RESULTS: Bathurst 6 Hour Qualifying
The stunning effort came not long after he won the opening GT World Challenge race earlier in the afternoon, continuing his remarkable run of success that dates back to winning last October’s Bathurst 1000.
Sherrin Racing’s David Russell tried hard to beat the New Zealander however ultimately fell just 0.03 seconds short in the closest ever qualifying session in the race’s history.
With BMW’s two-door M4 model first and second, four-door M3s filled the second row thanks to Tim Leahey in third and Tim Slade in fourth.
Leahey was the early pace-setter in the top 50% session before being bumped down the order by the van Gisbergen and Russell flyers, while Slade was one of the stars of qualifying as the Carr Motorsport entry rebounded from a torrid build-up to the race.
After completing just three laps on Friday due to a series of electrical issues, Slade hustled the car hard in qualifying to end up fourth, just 1.2 seconds behind van Gisbergen and 0.3 seconds behind Leahey in the defending winner’s M3.
George Miedecke qualified his Ford Mustang fifth and quickest in the A2 class – shaving more than 1.2 seconds from the car’s previous best lap time in the process.
He edged out young-gun Dalton Ellery for bragging rights on the third row by a fraction of a second, leaving five BMWs in the top six positions after qualifying.
Seventh was John Bowe in the Wake Up Backpackers HSV GTS, while Mark Caine pushed the Secure Wealth BMW to eighth.
The first two contenders in A1 finished ninth and tenth, the pair of Garth Walden Racing Mercedes A45AMG entries split by just a tenth of a second; Ollie Shannon narrowly in front of team boss, Garth Walden.
The class battles were no less competitive, with the B1 pole position decided by 0.6 seconds in favour of the Spinifex Recruiting BMW 335i driven by Peter O’Donnell, Scott Gore second in class.
Class B2 went the way of the Commodore Shop Cardiff SSV Holden driven in qualifying by Drew Russell – the impressive effort from the Novocastrian seeing the class B contender in front of several Class A1 and A2 runners on Sunday’s grid.
The Osborne Motorsport Renault Megane of Josh Haynes proved too strong in Class C, grabbing the category pole by nearly two seconds over Nick McLeod’s HSV Astra VXR.
The Bargwanna family team grabbed the top spot in Class D, but it was a tense affair with just nine tenths between their VW Golf GTi and Thomas Sargent in the CHE Engineering Toyota 86.
Andrew McMaster led a Mazda 3 SP-25 1-2 result in Class E, just 0.5s ahead of Ryan Gilroy.
Both 20-minute sessions (for slowest and fastest halves of the grid) ran uninterrupted.
The field stands at 59 cars for tomorrow’s race, the Jeremy Gray / Broc Feeney / Stephen Robinson Ford Falcon GTF set to be a non-starter.
Meanwhile, a herculean effort from the Bloomfield Capital Racing squad saw their BMW 1M returned to the grid for a solitary qualifying lap after a non-stop, 30-hour rebuild after issues on Friday morning.
The 2021 Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour will start at 11:15am on Easter Sunday and will be broadcast live on the screens of Seven.