The inaugural winner of the Allan Simonsen Pole Position Trophy appears likely to be decided in this morning’s first qualifying session, where record times are predicted.
Three qualifying sessions will be held for the Bathurst 12 Hour field today, with full-field hit-outs kicking off at 0900 (60 minutes) and 1330 (40 minutes) before a Class A-only finale from 1420 (15 minutes).
Although the third session has been implemented to give the top runners a clear shot at pole position, predicted hot weather will likely see teams putting in their biggest efforts during the opening hit-out.
Friday practice saw David Russell clock a 2:05.9s lap in the morning; a time not beaten until the Erebus qualifying simulations began in the final minutes of the afternoon’s fourth session.
With Maro Engel recording a best of 2:04.4s in the heat of Friday afternoon, low 2:02s are now expected for qualifying before the circuit sees its predicted maximum of 35 degrees during the afternoon.
“No one is going to do the time in the heat of the afternoon so it’ll all down to that morning session,” Russell, whose car will not compete in the final 15 minutes as it is running in Class B specification, told Speedcafe.com.
“The good thing will be that in the morning all the lead drivers should be in the cars, but traffic will still be difficult.
“Seeing Maro do a 2:04.4s on Friday was interesting. I think given the conditions (when he set that time), the cars will do 2:02s.”
Craig Lowndes’ V8 Supercar engineer Jeromy Moore is at Bathurst this weekend, helping his driver in the #88 Maranello Ferrari.
Moore agrees that the increased grip and horsepower in the morning’s lower ambient conditions will produce stunning times.
“I don’t think we’ll get under the two minute barrier, I think that’s out of reach, but another couple of seconds off of what we’ve seen in practice is definitely on,” he said.
“You may see a high 2:01 if everything works right, but that’ll need perfect conditions and no traffic. That’s a big variable.”
The record times this year are a combination of the recent resurfacing of the circuit and the abolition of the benchmark time regulation that had previously been in place to help all of the class entries qualify within the 130 percent cut-off.
The introduction of the Simonsen Trophy for the pole winner follows the Dane’s death at last year’s Le Mans 24 Hours.
Simonsen never took pole for the Bathurst 12 Hour but remains the race lap record holder following a scintillating run for Maranello early in the 2012 race.