BMW sets the pace in Bathurst 6 Hour practice
The BMW of Luke Searle and Barry Graham emerged as the early pacesetters in practice for Sunday’s inaugural Bathurst 6 Hour.
The duo, driving a Class A1 BMW M135i, topped the times in both of today’s 50 minute practice sessions, with Searle’s 2:27.00s, posted in the morning’s outing, the quickest time of the day.
Searle clocked a 2:27.8s in the second session which followed a brief rain shower at Mount Panorama.
His opening practice personal best was 0.1s beneath the Mount Panorama production car lap record, set by Terry Bosnjack, driving a Mazda RX-7, in 1999.
Today’s conditions seemed to suit the BMW runners with four in the top five.
The Class B1 Sherrin Rentals BMW 135i of Michael Sherrin, Iain Sherrin and David Ayres was second overall just 0.086s adrift.
Garth Walden and Ben Porter’s brand new Mercedes A45 AMG split the BMW domination in third.
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.
Mitsubishi runners filled positions sixth through to 10th, with the lead CXC Global Racing Lancer EVO X of Dylan Thomas and Terry Nightingale the best of the bunch.
The entire 50 car grid clocked laps today ahead of Saturday’s action, which begins with another 50 minute practice session before a two-part qualifying.
Qualifying will begin with a one hour session for the entire field before a 15 minute hit out for the fastest 20 cars.
Support classes were also in action today with the new Ferrari 488 GT3 of Tony DeFelice and Benny Simonsen claiming pole position after topping both sessions in the NSW Production Sports category.
Vince Macri edged out fellow Chevrolet Camaro driver Bob Neville by 0.5s to score pole in the Castrol Historic Touring Cars.
The Ford Mustangs of John Harrison and Daryl Hansen will share the second row.
A 58 car HQ Holden field took to the track for qualifying which saw Rod Raatjes scoring pole over Brett Osborn by just under 0.5 seconds.
Due to a 55 car cap on the grid this weekend three cars will miss the race but will remain on the reserves list.
Result: Bathurst 6 Hour Top 10
Practice sessions 1 & 2 Combined
1. Searle/Graham (A1) BMW M135i 2:27.000s
2. Sherrin/Sherrin/Ayres (B1) BMW 135i 2:27.086s
3. Walden/Porter (A1) Mercedes-Benz AMG A45 2:28.949s
4. Lynton/Leahey (A1) BMW 1M 2:29.020s
5. Morcom Mostert (B1) BMW 335i 2:29.137s
6. Thomas/Nightingale (A1) Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X RS 2:29.891s
7. Pollicina/O’Dowd (A1) Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X RS 2:30.428s
8. Caine/Murphy (A1) Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X RS 2:31.089s
9. Wall/Bowe (A1) Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX 2:31.759s
10. Scott/Handley (A1) Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX 2:32.082s
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: Eddy / Jouy (Performance): (Renault Megane RS265)
D: Reeves / Caine (Production): (Toyota 86 GTS)
E (Compact): Kirkham / Kirkham (Mazda MX6)
I (Invitational): Kearns / Cowham (Ford Falcon AU)