Bathurst 12H: Event qualifying report

Owen claims second pole for Armor All Bathurst 12-hour MITSUBISHI driver Steve Owen claimed his second straight pole position for the Armor All Bathurst 12-Hour touring car race & ...

Owen claims second pole for Armor All Bathurst 12-hour

MITSUBISHI driver Steve Owen claimed his second straight pole position for the Armor All Bathurst 12-Hour touring car race – Australia's longest motor race - in a hard-fought qualifying session for the 2010 Event at Mount Panorama today.

Owen, from Melbourne, sharing a Superbarn Supermarkets Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10 with Canberra brothers James and Theo Koundouris, claimed the $5000 Armor All Pole Position Award in heavily-overcast but dry conditions – and just managed to deny a fairytale result for perennial Bathurst crowd favourite Glenn Seton.

Seton poured on a late challenge in his identical Mitsubishi but failed by just six-hundredths of a second to claim the spot for the Pro-Duct team of Sydney veteran Bob Pearson.

However, V8 Supercar ace Jason Bargwanna provided some compensation by claiming third place in a second Pro-Duct car.

Seton will co-drive with television commentator Neil Crompton and production car champion Mark King, while Bargwanna will share with Pearson and South Australian rally expert Steve Glenney.

Damien White, winner of the past two years' Events with Rod Salmon, put their Lancer in fourth place on the starting grid

The qualifying contest was the tightest since the endurance event was introduced in 2007.

Owen slashed a substantial two seconds off his 2009 pole time, but the next five cars that followed also were under his old qualifying record.

Mitsubishi's all-wheel drive, turbocharged Lancer dominated the action, with the first other brand, the BMW 335i coupe of Gary Holt, John Bowe and Paul Morris, in seventh place.

The Armor All Bathurst 12-Hour will feature over 20 different makes and models of popular production cars with only minimal safety-related modifications.

Divided into six classes according to type, the field of 43 includes not only high-performance Mitsubishi's, Subaru's, Holden's and Fords, but also a Holden Commodore station wagon, Ford and Holden utes and Mazda 3 and Holden Astra small hatchbacks.

Although rain is forecast at some stage tomorrow the enduro, starting at 6.30 am, is on course to be Australia's longest motor race.

Last year's winners covered 239 laps or 1463 kilometres, almost 50 percent longer than the October Bathurst 1000 race. In 2008, the winners covered 1570 kms.

Owen's pole position gave the Superbarn team fresh hope of a Bathurst victory, cruelly denied last year when mechanical problems forced them to retire while leading.

While pleased with a Class A production-car lap time that would have matched a full-race V8's not many years ago, Owen said the leaders would have to set a restrained pace to reach the finish.

"Last year we were a bit unprepared, but this year we had a new gearbox go in just last night and we are better prepared. When the flag drops we just hope we are there at the end," he said.

"I was looking all right for 45 minutes there (in qualifying) and then Seto (Glenn Seton) came along and bunged one on in the end."

Seton emphasised the need for a conservative pace tomorrow.

"The only difference between now and October is you have to realise production cars still have to manage the brakes not like the V8s," he said.

"It's a different thought pattern when racing the 12-Hour. It's one of the most enjoyable things about motorsport, the thought pattern."

Bargwanna added: "A lot comes into this race. You have to keep something alive for 12 hours, the mix-up of the traffic mixes up the race."

In class results, John Bowe was fastest in Class B the 2007-winning Eastern Creek Karts BMW, Garth Walden claimed Class C in a Holden Commodore VE SS, Ryan McLeod Class D in a Holden Astra Turbo and Marcus Zukanovic was fastest in Class I in a Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 that had barely turned a wheel before arriving in Bathurst.

Andrew Fisher was fastest in Class G for utes, in an Australian-first race appearance for the FG series Ford Falcon XR8.

The Armor All Bathurst 12 Hour Showroom Enduro is in its 4th year, with a grid of 43 expected to start. The race features production cars in a class structure representative of the mass road-going market. BMW, Mitsubishi, Ford, Holden, Nissan and Subaru will compete for outright honors.

Prostate Cancer is the official charity of the Event and the race will be televised in a 3 hour special on the SEVEN Network, through Fox Sports, New Zealand and other International Markets.

-source: bathurst 12h

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Series CAMS
Drivers Neil Crompton , Jason Bargwanna , Paul Morris , John Bowe , Glenn Seton , Steve Owen , Theo Koundouris , Mark King , Rod Salmon , Marcus Zukanovic , Garth Walden , Damien White , Bob Pearson , Ryan McLeod , Andrew Fisher , Steve Glenney