A RALLY driver in a type of car that wins world rally championships was predictably fastest when heavy rain turned the Mount Panorama circuit at Bathurst into a skating rink during practice for the Super Cheap Auto 3-Hour Showroom Showdown.
Rick Bates, of Canberra, used the all-wheel-drive grip of his Mitsubishi Lancer RS Evolution V to set a time of 2 min. 51.27 sec. in the first of two pre-qualifying sessions for Saturday=B9s prestigious annual race for standard passenger cars.
More than 20 of the 55 entrants missed having any track time today when the rain and fog forced officials to cancel a second pre-qualifying session late this afternoon.
Later, the officials announced the second pre-qualifying had been re-scheduled to 8.50 am tomorrow, preceding a combined qualifying session that will determine starting positions.
V8 Supercar driver John Faulkner, doing double duty in the GT Production category, claimed a surprising second spot in a Holden Commodore HSV GTS, ahead of seven other all-wheel drive cars in the top 10.
<pre> RESULTS: Outright Lap time (min., sec.) 1. Rick Bates/Bob Hughes (Mitsubishi Lancer RS Evo V) 2:51.27 2. Ed Aitken/John Faulkner (Holden Commodore HSV GTS) 2:52.38 3. Scott Jacob/Grant Kenny (Subaru Impreza WRX STi) 2:52.46 4. Scott Anderson/Ross Almond (Subaru Impreza WRX STi) 2:52.49 5. Clyde Lawrence/Peter Gazzard (Subaru Impreza WRX STi) 2:53.55 6. Dwayne Bewley/Trevor Sheumack (Subaru Impreza WRX STi) 2:55.08
Class High Performance: Rick Bates/Bob Hughes (Mitsubishi Lancer RS Evo V) 2:51.27 Sports Touring: David Wood/Peter Phelan (Honda Integra Type R) 3:0123 V8 Touring: No time set Six-cyl. Touring: No time set Four-cyl. Touring: No time set
TIMETABLE: Friday 8.50 am - Pre-qualifying (30 min.), 3.40 pm - Qualifying (50 min.). Saturday 7.45 am - Warm-up (20 min.), 12.48 pm - Super Cheap Auto 3-Hour Showroom Showdown (180 min.).