The Audi featuring Garth Tander has pipped Chaz Mostert to provisional pole for the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
Kelvin van der Linde turned a 2:02.3450s in qualifying aboard the Jamec-Pem Audi R8 LMS he is sharing with Tander and Frederic Vervisch to lead the way entering Saturday afternoon’s Top 10 Shootout.
Mostert fell just 0.0290 seconds shy at the end of 30 minutes of running dedicated to Class A machinery, and will be joined in the one-lap dash by Supercars rivals Scott McLaughlin and Shane van Gisbergen in McLarens.
Steven Richards Motorsport’s BMW recorded the first sub 2:03s lap of the weekend with Phillipp Eng, who finished the 50 minutes of full-field running four tenths clear of McLaughlin.
In the subsequent 30 minutes dedicated to the Class A machinery, that benchmark was lowered early by van der Linde, while Schnitzer Motorsport BMW driver Mostert and McLaughlin also broke into the 2:02s barrier on their first flying laps.
The session was red-flagged nine minutes in, when Lee Holdsworth crashed his Hallmarc Audi exiting Griffins Bend, spat into the inside wall after riding the outside kerb.
“I committed to the throttle too early,” Holdsworth said.
“These things don’t like kerbs. I hit the kerb and they snap really quick. It was all out of my control after that.”
Drivers headed back out with 11 minutes left on the clock, with van der Linde improving again to finish with two laps good enough for provisional pole.
“It was always the plan, either Kelvin or Fredrick to do qualifying, my job was always the race stuff,” said Tander.
“I’ve been in this position plenty of times at Bathurst, being on provisional pole with the Shootout to come.
“The guys have done an awesome job with the car, both in the 10, so we’ll see what the afternoon brings.
“We’ll sit down in the truck and talk about it [how to approach the Shootout], but the good thing is both the times he did then were on the first flying lap.
“They were basically Shootout simulations, but it will be a lot cooler this afternoon when the Shootout starts. Hopefully we’re ready for that.”
Van der Linde and Tander celebrate
Mostert found time at the very end, his 2:02.3740s recorded just moments before the session was red-flagged with the JBS Racing Lamborghini stopped at Reid Park.
“It was tight in the end, I tried pretty hard out there but at least we got in the 10, I’m looking forward to having the track to myself this afternoon and being one of the last out,” Mostert said.
“I didn’t do much running through practice so I think if I can just tidy up a few areas of my driving maybe there’s a tenth in it, but it’s super-tight out there, so we’ll see how we go.
“The car feels good, we’ve been making it better through practice and we’ll talk through this morning and I’m sure we’ll have a little tweak before the race.”
Eng only turned a single flying lap in the Class A session, but that was good enough for third, ahead of McLaughlin in the Pro-Am YNA Autosport McLaren.
McLaughlin’s 2:02.5649s was two-and-a-half tenths and two spots ahead of van Gisbergen, the Pro McLaren he’s sharing with Craig Lowndes regrouping from throttle problems in Practice 5.
“The car feels nice. We haven’t had that many laps but we’ve been more fortunate than the #58 [of van Gisbergen and Lowndes],” McLaughlin said.
“I’m feeling good, we’ve got to work on a few things, but it’s a lot of fun out there.
“It’s a privilege to drive a car like this around the Mountain. I’m just having fun.”
Driving a Strakka Racing Mercedes, Cameron Waters missed out on a Shootout start by just half-a-tenth and will start 11th, five spots ahead of Jamie Whincup in the Scott Taylor Motorsport AMG GT3.
The Whincup Mercedes was in the thick of the action in the first phase of qualifying, with Tristian Vautier.
Having forced his way past Dean Canto’s Lamborghini at Murray’s Corner, Vautier was slow at the apex and tagged, with the contact dislodging the Lamborghini’s bonnet panel.
Sporting diffuser damage, Vautier later went off at Turn 1, with Whincup ultimately turning the car’s best lap of the weekend - a 2:03.4383s - in the second part after repairs during the break.
Will Davison wound up 19th in his WRT Audi, one spot ahead of Holdsworth, while the David Reynolds Mercedes was 23rd and Objective Racing McLaren of Tim Slade did not venture out in the Class A session.
The Top 10 Shootout starts at 4:15pm on Saturday afternoon.