Bathurst International Friday Wrap
Friday 10th November, 2023 - 9:24pm
The Supercheap Auto TCR Australia and Kumho TCR World Tour may have been the showcase at the Bathurst International, but there was several other categories that had track action on Day 1 at Mt Panorama.
Over the two trouble-free practice sessions of the combined TCR series’ it was Cyan Racing’s Yann Ehrlacher in the Lynk & Co that ended up fastest, with a late flyer in the second outing. He was able to edge Tony D’Alberto in the Wall Racing Honda Civic FL5 by 0.17s.
Third fastest was D’Alberto’s International teammate Nestor Girolami with Cyan’s Santiago Urrutia next in front of Frederic Vervisch (Audi RS3 LMS), Qing Hua Ma (Lynk & Co), Will Brown (Audi), Thed Bjork (Lynk & Co), Aaron Cameron (Peugeot 308) and local series leader Bailey Sweeny (Hyundai i30N).
A comfortable points lead in the National Trans Am Series has not deterred James Moffat from topping both practice sessions before the final round qualifying on Saturday morning.
It was a Garry Rogers Motorsport Mustang in the top three places by the end of the day with Edan Thornburrow second and Lochie Dalton, currently second in the points, third. Ben Grice (Mustang) did the third fastest time in Sesson 2 but was disqualified.
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That outing produced the quicker times with Cody Gillis (Mustang) fourth ahead of Tim Brook (Camaro), Tom Hayman (Mustang) and Grice on his first session time. Then came Elliot Barbour (Camaro), Josh Andreson (Mustang) and American visitor Robert Noaker (Camaro).
In his first drive in the Kumho V8 Touring Car Series, Cameron McLeod had been quick in the Brad Neil-owned ex-Stone Brothers Ford Falcon FG. He had only limited laps in Session 1 before he set down a 2:10.7330 to be over 2s clear of the opposition.
Second fastest was Ryan Simpson who has been out of a seat since pre-Covid. He seemed to quickly adapt as well, to his first laps around Bathurst in a V8TC in Jim Policina’s ex-Tasman Motorsport Holden Commodore VE, and headed points leader Jude Bargwanna (Anderson Motorsport ex-Ford Performance FG and his nearest points rival Jamie Tilley (Triple 8 ex-Dick Johnson Racing FG).
For the first time in qualifying for the Monochrome Invited/Mobil 1 Australian Production Cars, Shane Smollen and his GT4 spec Porsche Cayman 718 was beaten for pole. Tim Leahy in his new BMW G82 M4 GT4 went 0.8s faster.
The Invited cars filled the top seven spots with Karl Begg (McLaren 570S) third ahead of Steve Jukes (BMW F82 M4), Chris Pappas (McLaren), Mark Griffith (Mercedes AMG) and Jacob Lawrence (M4).
In eight place was the first of the Production Cars, Grant Sherrin in his Class X M4 in front of the similar car of his brother Iain. Tony Levitt (Mercedes AMG C63) was third and fastest in A2 with Simon Hodges (M4) fourth from Coleby Cowham (A2 Ford Mustang GT), Trevor Symonds (A2 HSV Clubsport) and Ben Gersekowski (B2 BMW E92 M3).
For the Trophy Race in the Gulf Western Touring Car Masters, the grid was worked out on practice times rather than qualifying due to two Red Flag in the session. Only Marcus Zukanovic managed to record a competitive laps as the session was stopped, firstly by Central Muscle Cars’ Tim Dawson (Ford Falcon XE) due to a breakdown before Tony Galbraith had some wall contact in his CMC Valiant Charger.
Reverting to the earlier session was still to the benefit of Zukanovic who had pipped Cameron Tilley (Valiant Pacer) at the end. Third to sixth spots were Holden Torana drivers Ryan Hansford, Andrew Fisher, Danny Buzadzic and John Bowe. Then came series leader Steve Johnson (Ford Mustang) ahead of Brad Tilley (Mustang) and Ben Dunn (Chev Monza).
Nash Morris survived two Safety Car restarts for victory in Race 1 of Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge. The TekworkX Motorsport driver held off Sonic Racing’s Marcos Flack throughout the scheduled 18-lap race that went three laps short due to time restraints.
Meanwhile Team Porsche New Zealand / Earl Bamber Motorsport’s Marco Giltrap who finished third, not only secured the Jim Richards Enduro Cup, but he also became the 2023 Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge champion with an unsurmountable lead.
In Pro-Am, Sam Shahin also did enough to seal the title, now mathematically unbeatable with two races left in the sixth and final round.
Morris led from the outset as Flack fell in behind as Oscar Targett (Grove Racing) made a great start to be third ahead of TekworkX’s Hamish Fitzsimmons, Giltrap and Sonic’s Harrison Goodman who would retire midway through with rear end damage.
A moment at Murrays Corner from Targett allowed Fitzsimmons and Giltrap to get by at the end of Lap 5. The first Safety Car came when Wall Racing’s Caspar Tressider found the gravel trap at the Chase. Fitzsimmons ran wide on the exit of Murray’s Corner at the restart and that cost him a spot as Giltrap was able to get by.
The second Safety Car came shortly after when Tim Wolfe found the wall at Reid Park which led to a one-lap dash to the finish. Class B was taken out by Brad Carr in 16th outright, with Lachlan Harburg second.
Saturday races will be live on Stan Sport and on free to air via the Nine Network around Australia.