Sick of their bridesmaid status gained by finishing second in the 2012 race, Erebus Motorsport has made the best possible start to going one better in the 2013 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
With a pair of V8 Supercar regulars joining the teams’ regular GT ace, the #63 SLS AMG driven by Lee Holdsworth, Tim Slade and Peter Hackett took pole position with a 2m06.2730s lap today – a time that was perilously close to the 2m06.0s ‘benchmark’ time that competitors must not exceed in qualifying.
The Mercedes-Benz AMG team’s closest rivals did exceed that mark, however – Allan Simonsen setting a stunning 2m05.5s lap early in the opening session that saw them ‘break out’ and the time disallowed, returning the gull-winged supercar to the top spot.
Erebus’ resident V8 Supercar ace Lee Holdsworth set today’s time – the quickest he’s ever gone around the 6.213km Mountain circuit.
“When you do a 2m08 in the V8, you really feel like you’re hanging it out but in this (the SLS AMG) it’s totally different.
“We got very close to the benchmark time and from there it was a case of keeping an eye on everyone else – especially the Ferrari – to see if anyone beat it.
“The car is fantastic and is a really good package and as a team, the three of us are really comfortable so we’re happy.”
The Maranello Motorsport Ferrari that the Danish ace will share with Mika Salo, John Bowe and Peter Edwards will be forced to carry an extra 50kg of weight in the race tomorrow as a penalty, though their second-fastest lap was still good enough to set the #88 car on the front row for tomorrow.
“I told Allan ‘don’t worry about it’,” Peter Edwards said.
“It’s one of those things and there’s nothing we can do about it. The one thing it shows is how fast our car is.”
“The three of us made a pact last year that we could come back and try to win this race,” owner-driver Mok Weng Sung said.
“We have exactly the same team and exactly the same group of guys here with us. It’s also the Chinese new year tomorrow (Sunday) so hopefully that helps us as well!”
With Audi fifth, and a Porsche ninth, five different brands are represented in the top 10 – covered by just 1.4 seconds.
Bathurst threw its usual drama at competitors today with one of its biggest masters finding the wall at Falken Elbow.
Greg Murphy ran wide avoiding a slower car and made hefty contact with the unforgiving concrete wall, causing substantial damage to the right-hand suspension of his Trofeo Motorsport Corvette.
With eight classes on track, the on-track action was fast and furious today with a host of very pleased class polesitters well set up tomorrow.
The David Calvert-Jones, James & Alex Davison Porsche took pole in Pedigree GT3 (Class B) and the Simply Sports Cars Lotus Exige first in Ryges class C (GT4).
The battle for the production car honours was just as intense as the battle for the outright qualifying spots, with jut 0.5s separating the V8 Race Production (High Performance) top two.
The Sherrin rentals BMW 135i of Ian, Michael and Grant Sherrin ousted the Maximum Motorsport Subaru WRX STi driven by Dean Herridge, Angus Kennard and John O’Dowd in a tense battle – both cars lapping right on the existing Production Car lap record – thanks in part to the move by the class to slicks for the first time this year.
Class E (Race Fuels Production – Performance) was topped by the Racer Industries HSV Astra – 1.8s ahead of the locally entered GWS Motorsport BMW 130i.
In the Meguiar’s invitational a feel-good story evolved across the course of the day, with Mal Rose qualifying his well-travelled Holden Commodore ex-V8 Supercar on top of the class and a staggering 22nd outright.
Rose’s best of 2m15.84s came within 0.8s of the class benchmark lap time – Rose clearly ecstatic with the performance of the former Garry Rogers Motorsport VY Holden in its Mountain ‘return’.
2013 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour