INTERNATIONAL AUDI ON TOP AT MOUNT PANORAMA
AUDI HAS DOMINATED both Friday practice sessions at the Armor All Bathurst 12 Hour - but the V10-powered R8 topping the time sheets today wasn't the one most people expected.
The stunning Black-liveried Audi driven by Germans Christopher Mies, Marc Basseng and Chinese driver Darryl O'Young posted a quick 2m11.64 lap in the dying minutes of the second session when track conditions were at the optimum, to set the fastest time of the day.
Experienced Sportscar driver Marc Basseng set the time, topping the David Wall / Greg Crick / Barton Mawer Porsche GT3 Cup S by 0.7 seconds. The 'Aussie' Audi was third overall today after Warren Luff banked a 2m12.44s lap in the first session this morning.
Luff said the practice performance today reinforced the capabilities of the crack Team Joest squad.
"Craig (Lowndes), Mark Eddy and I feel very lucky to be in the car, in such a professional team with a record in endurance races that is second to none." he said.
"They are such an easy car to drive, it ran really smoothly. I think it is much easier for us in the Australian car to get used to a different vehicle then it is for our team mates to adapt to a new track in their usual car."
Luff said the difference in lap times between the two cars was down to track position and traffic.
"I didn't get a clean lap today, there was so much traffic. It is a huge challenge for the race negotiating the slower cars - It will make it interesting."
V8 Supercar driver David Reynolds took Marc Cini's Porsche to fourth fastest overall, whilst his 2011 Supercar rival-to-be Steve Owen steered the similar Porsche he will share with brothers James and Theo Koundouris to the fifth-fastest lap of the day.
Audi, Porsche, Ferrari and Mosler were all represented inside the top ten as the automotive exotica took to the famed 6.213km circuit for the first time.
The Class B (GT Challenge) Porsche 997 GT3 of Porsche Champions Matt Kingsley, Roger Lago and David Russell topped their class by finishing a stunning seventh outright in this afternoon's second session.
Class C for Production-based GT Vehicles was topped by the stunning, bright-pink Nissan GTR R35, who finished the day 12th outright on the time sheets.
The BMW v Mitsubishi battle that has been a feature of the Armor All Bathurst 12 hour for several seasons continued today in the High Performance production class, with the Mitsubishi narrowly coming out on top today in practice.
The car, co-driven by Mark Brame, Peter Conroy and Anthony Robson finished the day 14th outright and just two-tenths of a second faster than their nearest rival, the BMW 335i of Christian D'Agostin, Peter O'Donnell and Matt Hansen. Cars from Subaru, Mitsubishi and Ford feature in the production high-performance battle this weekend with the 'showroom showdown' race set to wage until the flag falls.
In the Production Performance battle, the HSV Holden Astra driven by young guns Chaz Mostert, Ash Walsh and Gerard McLeod topped their class with three BMW 130is in close company.
Joining the Armor All 12 hour field on track today were the five support categories featuring more than 200 competitors.
Formula Vee saw a field of 45 run their first race for the weekend, with Daniel Reynolds of Vintage Vee-Dub Supplies taking the chequered flag in today's first race.
Victory came for Rick Newman driving a Ford Falcon AU in a seven lap dash for Improved Production, with Jamie Furness winning race one in the HQ Holden series. Rounding out the day was a Group N and Group A & C with Grant Wilson (Camaro) and Edward Singleton (VH Commodore) taking the honours respectively.
Tomorrow will feature qualifying for the Armor All Bathurst 12 Hour, with $5000 up for grabs for the combination who scores the Armor All Pole award based on the aggregate time of the three drivers in each car, over two one-hour sessions.
The action-packed program will also include a host of support race action from five categories and on-track entertainment.