Lee Holdsworth’s debut in the Erebus Motorsport SLS AMG GT3 at the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour couldn’t have got underway in better fashion, with the full time V8 Supercar pilot finishing his practice session with the team’s fastest time and the second fastest time overall from the three sessions.
Holdsworth blistered his way around the 6.213 kilometre Mount Panorama circuit in 2:08.6271 mid way through the final practice session of the day to finish just 0.08s behind Alan Simonsen and being the fastest of the Michelin-shod runners.
Not only was it Holdsworth’s first opportunity to attack the Mountain in the Gullwing, it was his first time of competitively driving a left-hand drive machine.
Their best time came in the final session also, a 2:10.1175 set by Schneider. In the second practice session, which was generally slower than those that bookended it, Jager sat atop the timesheets for a period of time with his 2:10.7392.
Roloff - who races an SLS AMG GT3 in the VLN Series at the Nurburgring Nordschleife - acquitted himself well, testing in all three sessions today. The times between Roloff - the 32-year-old Berlin-based businessman - and the two German professionals was very close, which will prove to be crucial throughout Sunday’s 12 Hour affair.
The Australian #63 machine saw Tim Slade complete the entire first 50 minute run, ending fifth quickest with a 2:10.7759.
Peter Hackett had his 50 minute practice session in compartment two of today’s running. He ended his first look at the mountain in the last 12 months ninth quickest in 2:12.1645. He was running full tanks and working on race pace.
The big talking point among the entire 50 car field is traffic. With the differential between fastest and slowest cars on combined times being 44.9 seconds, within three laps of Sunday’s race, the leaders can be expected to be lapping other cars.
Tomorrow will see a two part Qualifying session, with a change to regulations for the 2013 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour seeing the fastest time of the two sessions setting the grid for Sunday’s 7am (AEDT) start.
FROM BENEATH THE GULLWING:
Lee Holdsworth - Car #63 - Erebus Motorsport SLS AMG GT3: “The Erebus Motorsport SLS AMG GT3 is a great deal of fun to drive, it gives you a lot of confidence with all the additional aids like traction control and ABS.
If you get a little bit of a slide up, the traction control kicks in and you just keep the throttle planted.
“One thing that I’ve noticed with the car is that the throttle and brake are like buttons - you are either on or off.
“There’s plenty of downforce, lots of aero, but the hardest part for me is getting used to driving a left-hand drive car - usually going through Sulman Park, you’re used to having the passenger’s side to your left, this time it’s on the right hand side, so that’s been a fairly big adjustment.
“Obviously we’re happy with the time today, I’m feeling good and the guys are doing a great job. It’s fairly early in the weekend, so there’s a long way to go, but so far so good!”
Tim Slade - Car #63 - Erebus Motorsport SLS AMG GT3: “After finishing second last year, the Erebus Motorsport team has come back bigger, better and stronger. It’s great to be back in the SLS again, AMG Customer Sports have built a fantastic car, it’s amazing to drive, especially around a circuit like Bathurst.
“There is a lot more competition this year and everyone has stepped up another gear if not two., Sunday is purely going to come down who is going to keep their nose clean.
“I think qualifying will be the luck of the draw with the traffic and both in qualifying and the race, whoever gets through unscathed will be those that are at the top.”
Peter Hackett - Car #63 - Erebus Motorsport SLS AMG GT3: “We spent much of today working on fuel mileage and making sure we were getting some good numbers, we’re fairly happy with how we’ve ended the day.
“The key for us is to ensure we stay away from drama - it is chaos already, but that goes for both the outright cars as well as the remainder of the field - there’s a different mindset between the locals that are used to racing here and the Internationals that have different ways of indicating their intentions.
“One thing that is guaranteed is that it will be a really close fight at the front. There’s not much in it between the leading cars.”
Bernd Schneider - Car 36 - Erebus Motorsport SLS AMG GT3
“I’m very happy, everything went quite well. I’m still working to get into tune with the racetrack, I am not 100% there just yet. It is quite difficult to find braking points in some places, especially as it can change lap to lap depending on traffic.
“We have one more day tomorrow, I think we have quite a good setup for the race. We spent much of today concentrating on the race setup as well as being comfortable with the track - for all three of us it is our first time here, so working with the Australian guys has been instrumental - they have given us clues to the track, whilst we’ve been giving them clues with the car.
“Qualifying tomorrow will be interesting, I’m looking forward to it and to see where we end up for Sunday’s race.”
Thomas Jager - Car 36 - Erebus Motorsport SLS AMG GT3: “I’m very happy so far. I didn’t get too many laps in the first session, I only had a few laps to learn the track, which wasn’t much time.
Following that, we looked at the data and improved quite a lot. The time I set in the second session was a very good lap time for that particular session
“We did plenty of setup work and our program is looking rather well. We have the opportunity to try some more things tomorrow, but we’re well prepared.
“Our driver pairing is very close and at a good level between the three of us. Bathurst is a very exciting track, it is like a little Nordschleife - it is hard to improve your lap time, with no run off areas. You have to come to the limit step by step, but so far we’re quite happy.”
Alex Roloff - Car 36 - Erebus Motorsport SLS AMG GT3: “My first time here at Bathurst has been amazing, it is a nice track and the landscape around the circuit is beautiful. I’m happy with my time, it’s very good and we hope that we can be right for Sunday.
“Whilst I am learning the track, I know the SLS AMG GT3 very well from Germany. We’re working hard still, but think we’ll have a good setup.
The traffic with faster cars and slower cars makes it very difficult. It is very hard here, but we’ll do what we can with the car.”