Grid penalty costs Aston pole start after huge lap from Dennis
The GruppeM Mercedes-AMG will start the 2019 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour from first position after a grid penalty spoiled Jake Dennis’ huge effort in the lead R-Motorsport Aston Martin.
Dennis reeled out a 2:02.4946s as last man out in the Pirelli Top 10 Shootout, putting him a full 0.4402s faster than the rest of the field, but a two-position grid penalty for speeding in pit lane during qualifying means that the #62 Vantage will line up third on the grid tomorrow morning.
The Briton’s lap overshadowed a strong effort from Raffaele Marciello in the bright yellow #999 Mercedes-AMG, who went from ninth-fastest in qualifying to second-fastest in the shootout.
Marciello’s lap did not appear particularly remarkable but the Italian hit all his marks and was the only other driver into the 2:02s bracket with a 2:02.9348s.
Dennis, who made much of his margin with the best first sector by far, was nevertheless presented with the Allan Simonsen Pole Trophy in pit lane.
“Unbelievable,” said the ecstatic 23-year-old.
“It looked tough out there from watching the other guys and knew if we put a clean lap together we’d have a chance.
“The car was again another step from Q2; the car R-Motorsport gave me was unbelievable, it was so, so strong.
“All I had to do was drive fast, clean and when I crossed the line I did a 2:02.5 but I had no idea if it was enough.
“I didn’t ask what times the guys had done (but) Nathan came over the radio and said it was enough for pole and my emotions got ahead of me.
“I was so happy not just for myself but the whole team; first time here at Bathurst for us guys and we’ve come away with a pole position.”
It will be an all-Mercedes-AMG top three after Maro Engel’s 2:03.5473s lap in the #77 Craft Bamboo/Black Falcon entry having also been strong in the first sector from the control line to Reid Park.
Bentley will be the next-highest starting manufacturer thanks to a 2:03.1083s from Steven Kane, who made most of his time in the third sector as he moved the #107 M-Sport-run Continental up two positions from where he had provisionally qualified.
David Reynolds slipped three positions in the shootout but still put the #777 The Bend/Erebus/STM Mercedes-AMG fifth on the grid with a 2:03.1375s, and will be joined on the third row by Kelvin van der Linde in the #22 Audi Sport Team Valvoline entry.
The young South African was committed even on his out lap but ran over the exit kerb and dropped two wheels in the dirt at Hell Corner.
He clawed some of that time back across the top and through the third sector to set a 2:03.1791s which left him temporarily second-fastest.
Matt Campbell was the first Australian to embark on his shootout lap and while he took the #912 EBM Porsche 911 GT3 R fastest across the top, he ended up with a 2:03.1863s and seventh on the grid having kicked up some dirt at Hell Corner.
Slow first and second sectors were costly for Yelmer Buurman, who was only eighth in the #19 Team 19/Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG despite being fourth-last out and setting the fastest final sector.
Christopher Haase qualified the #2 Audi ninth-fastest having been second-slowest in the second sector despite the surefootedness of the R8 LMS across the top.
Alexandre Imperatori was first on-track in the #18 KCMG Nissan GT-R and there was no advance on his provisional qualifying position of 10th after the Swiss driver ran well wide of the apex at Griffins.
Race start is tomorrow morning at 0545 local time/AEDT (GMT +11).
Results: Top 10 Shootout (Class A only)
|1||62||R-Motorsport||Jake Dennis||Aston Martin Vantage||PP||2:02.4946|
|2||999||Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Raci||Raffaele Marciello||Mercedes AMG GT3||PP||2:02.9348||0:00.4402|
|3||77||Team Craft Bamboo Black Falcon||Maro Engel||Mercedes AMG GT3||PP||2:03.0419||0:00.5473|
|4||107||Bentley Team M-Sport||Steven Kane||Bentley Continental||PP||2:03.1083||0:00.6137|
|5||777||The Bend Motorsport Park||David Reynolds||Mercedes AMG GT GT3||AP||2:03.1735||0:00.6789|
|6||22||Audi Sport Team Valvoline||Kelvin van der Linde||Audi R8 LMS||PP||2:03.1791||0:00.6845|
|7||912||EBM||Matt Campbell||Porsche 911 GT3-R||PP||2:03.1863||0:00.6917|
|8||19||Team Nineteen, Black Falcon||Yelmer Buurman||Mercedes AMG GT GT3||AP||2:03.3646||0:00.8700|
|9||2||Audi Sport Team Valvoline||Christopher Haase||Audi R8 LMS||PP||2:03.7828||0:01.2882|
|10||18||KC Motorgroup LTD||Alexandre Imperatori||Nissan GTR Nismo GT3||PP||2:04.1910||0:01.6964|