A Stunning new livery may have camouflaged the Maranello Motorsport Rosso Ferrari from the remainder of the field en route to setting the fastest time in practice for the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, today at Mount Panorama.
On a day where dealing with the traffic of a 50-car field was the biggest issue, the Italian supercar avoided other cars for one clear lap and lapped the 6.213km circuit in 2m08.5414s this afternoon – the quickest time of a highly competitive day.
Simonsen says last year’s quickest car in the race will also have the capability to go the distance in 2013.
“Obviously the team has had a full year of GT Racing, and we've learnt a lot more about the car,” he said.
“I think we know a lot about the car, and also from the Ferrari side there are a lot of updates that have come to the car which hopefully will keep us going for twelve hours.
Looking at the other twenty four and twelve hour races that have been with the Ferrari 458 it's proven to be a very reliable car.
“So I think if we can continue with the speed we had last year, and a bit of luck, hopefully the race can be ours this year”.
Simonsen will team with Peter Edwards, John Bowe and Bathurst first-timer Mika Salo this weekend – the Finnish ex-Formula one ace loving his first trip to Mount Panorama.
“I've been watching a lot of YouTube videos from Allan and other guys and they just don't do any justice to this place,” Salo said.
“It's unreal when you see it in person. The circuit is just something, I've never seen anything like it, it's probably one of the most difficult I've seen ever”.
The Erebus Motorsport Mercedes Benz SLS AMG of Peter Hackett, Tim Slade and Lee Holdsworth were second overall today, just 0.0857s slower than the pace-setting Ferrari.
Craig Baird piloted the Clearwater Racing Ferrari he will share with Irish factory Ferrari ace Matt Griffin and Mok Weng Sung to third, only 0.1009s from the quickest time.
The increased competition of this years’ field was in evidence today with the top ten cars covered by just 1.7 seconds across today’s three sessions.
The race-favourite Audi R8 LMS Ultra of Rod Salmon, Craig Lowndes and Warren Luff ended the day fourth, just ahead of the sister Audi driven by two-time winner Christopher Mies, Mark Eddy, Mark Cini and Dean Grant.
Two-time Bathurst 1000 winner Steven Richards put the brand-new Lamborghini Gallardo LP650 to sixth, only mere hundredths of a second ahead of the identical car entered by Roger Lago, David Russell and Peter Kox.
The VIP Petfoods GT3 R of Tony & Klark Quinn and Shane van Gisbergen were eighth, ahead of the #36 Erebus Motorsport SLS of Bernd Schneider, Thomas Jager and Alex Rollof.
Bathurst hero Greg Murphy steered the Trofeo Corvette to 10th outright today amongst a top 10 that includes six different brands.
Cousins Alex and James Davison, teaming with ex-pat US-based Aussie David Calvert-Jones ended the day 16th quickest and fastest of the strong Pedigree Class B (GT3) pack, one second up on their rivals in the Hunter Sports Group Porsche.
The switch to bio-ethanol fuel has clearly paid off for Sydney team Simply Sports Cars, their Sucrogen-fuelled Lotus Exige topping Class C (Ryges GT4), just four-tenths up on the Donut King Nissan GTR.
Rally ace Dean Herridge took his Subaru Impreza STI to the quickest time in the always-combative Production car ranks today, topping the competitive Class D (V8 Race Production – High Performance) ranks.
The Racer Industries HSV Astra of Ivo Breukers, Morgan Haber and Damien Ward topped Race Fuels Production (Performance).
After years of trying to get his car in the race, Sydney privateer Mal Rose ended the day 23rd in his ex-V8 Supercar, topping the Meguiar’s Invitational class.
Saturday is qualifying day on the Mountain, with two sessions to decide the grid for Sunday’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
Bathurst 12 Hour