Bathurst Qualifying

Past winner John Bowe steered his 8-litre Dodge Viper GTS Coupe through the heavy traffic of a record field today to claim pole position for tomorrow¹s Poolrite 3-Hour Bathurst Showroom Showdown at Mount Panorama. Bowe, sharing the car...

Past winner John Bowe steered his 8-litre Dodge Viper GTS Coupe through the heavy traffic of a record field today to claim pole position for tomorrow¹s Poolrite 3-Hour Bathurst Showroom Showdown at Mount Panorama.

Bowe, sharing the car with owner Garry Waldon, recorded a time of 2 min. 23.61 sec. on the 6.2 km circuit, 1.1 seconds ahead of the Ferrari F355 Challenge of Wayne Park and Darren Palmer.

Bowe was happy with his lap time, although he said the traffic made it difficult to get a clear, fast run at the clocks.

"There are 55 cars entered and most of them seemed to be on the track at the same time as us," Bowe said.

"It was a good time and the car felt great. However, doing six fast laps is different to three hours and it will be tough on the Viper, which is a heavy car."

Bowe, who shared victory with Waldon in a Ferrari F355 Challenge in 1997, rated their chances tomorrow as third or fourth at the finish.

Outright favoritism in the Meguiar¹s Class A ranks remains with last year¹s winning combination of Peter Fitzgerald, Jim Richards and their Porsche 911 RSCS.

"Jim and Peter are going to be hard to beat," said Park.

"The Porsche will be very reliable and Jim and Peter have a proven record here. There¹s a question mark over the Viper, but I¹m confident the Ferrari has a strong chance.

"Our aim will be to stay in touch with whoever is leading and then apply the pressure in the final hour."

Fitzgerald said he was baulked by traffic on his fast lap and had hoped to be second on the grid.

"We¹re third, but it doesn¹t matter too much because the Ferrari and the Viper would get us up Mountain Straight anyway," he said.

"If I had to pick a threat to our car I¹d say it would be the Mazda RX7 SP of Terry Bosnjak. It¹s light and quck and will have to make only one pit stop to our three."

In the other classes, Bob Hughes and rally ace Rick Bates were fastest in the Autobarn Class B division in their Mazda RX7, while Peter Phelan and David Wood topped the hotly-contested Class C in their Holden Commodore SS.

Tom Watkinson and rookie Grant Denyer took pole in Class D in a Mazda 626 that has won at the last two 3-Hour races.

Journalists Peter McKay and Paul Gover claimed Class E in a Malaysian- built Proton M21 Coupe, with Wayne Russell and NASCAR driver Bob Middleton in a BMW 323i in Class S.

Tomorrow¹s race will start at 12.45 pm, eastern summer time, and will be shown live around Australia on Network Ten.

FINAL QUALIFYING 1. - Garry Waldon/John Bowe - Dodge Viper GTS Coupe - 2:23.613 2. - Wayne Park/Darren Palmer - Ferrari F355 Challenge - 2:25.519 3. - Peter Fitzgerald/Jim Richards - Porsche 911 RSCS - 2:26.176 4. - Ed Aitken/John Faulkner - Porsche 911 RSCS - 2:26.397 5. - Jamie Cartwright/Aaron McGill - Toyota Supra RZ Twin Turbo - 2:26.743 CLASS B: Bob Hughes/Rick Bates - Mazda RX7 - 2:23.141 CLASS C: Peter Phelan/David Wood - Holden Commodore VT SS - 2:41.702 CLASS D: Tom Watkinson/Grant Denyer - Mazda 626 - 2:50.199 CLASS E: Peter McKay/Paul Gover - Proton M21 Coupe - 2:51.211 CLASS S: Wayne Russell/Bob Middleton - BMW 323i - 2:45.183

Paul Ryan - paul@pr2.com.au

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