Baird on pole for Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup enduro
Australian team captain Craig Baird will start tonight's 50-minute Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup enduro at Invercargill's Teretonga Park from pole position after pipping his New Zealand team counterpart Matt Halliday for pole position by the narrowest margin in the 20 minute qualifying session this afternoon.
Halliday took the bull by the horns early in the session, recording his best time of 59.795 on the sixth lap but Baird responded with a 59.708 on the twelfth lap to claim the advantage by just 0.087 of a second.
With a new Michelin tyre offering improved grip this season five Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup series drivers lapped under Matt Halliday's lap record of 1.00.495 in the session - Baird, Halliday himself, young Australian drivers Jonathon Webb and Bruce Washington and series points leader Ross Rutherford.
Former New Zealand Grand Prix and 2 litre Touring Car champion Baird won the 50 minute enduro race at the Teretonga round of the Trans-Tasman Porsche GT3 Cup last season and goes into tonight's Battery Town series race favourite from Halliday and two-time Timaru round winner Ross Rutherford.
Rutherford was the best of the Tag Heuer Carrera Challenge (for drivers 35 years of age and over) runners in qualifying, with Christchurch's Rick Armstrong second with the seventh best time and Dean Fulford third with the eighth.
Hong Kong-based Canadian Chinese driver Darryl O'Young did well on his first visit to the world's southern-most race circuit to set the sixth fastest time in qualifying.
Team Emirates New Zealand team boss Grant Dalton set the seventeenth fastest time to edge out local driver Scott O'Donnell and Auckland newcomer Michael Morton.
This evening's 50 minute twilight endurance race is scheduled to start at 7.43 pm and finish at 8.30 pm. There will also be two shorter races for the Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup cars on Sunday, one 10 lap race in the morning and a 16 lap one in the afternoon.
Also on the programme this weekend is the two-race New Zealand Grand Prix for Formula Ford drivers, plus further rounds of the Parker ENZED New Zealand V8 Touring Car championship and the new Toyota Racing Series 'wings-and-slicks' single-seater category.
2004/05 Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Series
Rnd 4 Teretonga Park Invercargill Sat/Sun Jan 15/16
Qualifying 1. Craig Baird Australia 59.708 2. Matt Halliday Auckland 59.795 3. Jonathan Webb Auckland 59.972 4. Bryce Washington Australia 59.978 5. Ross Rutherford Hamilton 1.00.156 6. Darryl O'Young Hong Kong 1.00.507 7. Rick Armstrong Christchurch 1.00.803 8. Dean Fulford Auckland 1.00.855 9. Andrew Bagnall Auckland 1.00.894 10. Mike Weeks Auckland 1.00.910 11. Graeme Cameron Auckland 1.00.963 12. Dean Cockerton Auckland 1.00.999 13. Shane McKillen Auckland 1.01.287 14. Rhys McKay Auckland 1.01.297 15. Paul Kelly Christchurch 1.01.846 16. Angus McFarlane Christchurch 1.02.016 17. Grant Dalton Auckland 1.02.175 18. Scott O'Donnell Invercargill 1.02.274 19. Michael Morton Auckland 1.04.701