VIPER SETS THE PACE AS THE GTP TRAFFIC STORMS MOUNT PANORAMA
The barnstorming Dodge Viper GTS Coupe has taken the upper hand in a frantic opening qualifying session for this Saturday¹s Poolrite 3-Hour Bathurst Showroom Showdown at Mount Panorama.
In the premiere support event to this Sunday¹s V8 Supercar FAI 1000, Dodge pilots Garry Waldon and John Bowe held a clear three second gap over the Porsche 911 RSCS of Ed Aitken and V8 Supercar driver John Faulkner.
Ferrari F355 Challenge star Wayne Park was third fastest while paired with team boss Ross Palmer.
Waldon is confident of again dominating in final qualifying tomorrow but doesn¹t hold the same confidence for Saturday¹s race.
"We will be going all out in qualifying and although the car is very fast, when it comes to the race I think three hours will be a long time," Waldon said.
Bowe echoed his co-drivers thoughts.
"It is very fast down the straight but it doesn¹t stop - it just slows down," Bowe said.
"It is not nimble like a Porsche or the Ferrari and that could mean we could be in for a heck of a race on Saturday."
With an over-subscribed entry and a capacity 55 cars battling for honours on Saturday, getting a clear lap in qualifying is tough - even for former GTP champs Peter Fitzgerald and Jim Richards in the Meguiar¹s Top Marques Class A division.
"We just couldn¹t put a lap together today and I am concerned that it is going to be the same tomorrow when we get into qualifying," Fitzgerald said.
"I am sure we haven¹t seen the best times yet, but my tip for pole will be the Viper."
Subaru Impreza WRX drivers Clyde Lawrence and Peter Gazzard surprised in the Autobarn Class B division to head the timesheet from Chris Kousparis and Mark Brame aboard a similar machine.
"Like Larry Perkins, we put all our effort into the big race. We have come very well prepared and were pretty pleased to get the time considering we haven¹t even run a new tyre yet," Lawrence said.
John McIlroy and Brett Youlden also surprised in Class C aboard their Ford Falcon AU XR6 while V8 Supercar stars Steven Richards and Greg Murphy were the men to catch in Class D aboard a Holden Vectra 2.2 GL.
"The Vectra feels great and for what it is, the handling and brakes and unbelievable," Richards said.
"After the way the season has gone for this car, I was a little bit surprised at how well we went today. I thought we would do a high 50 but we went better than that and I think we can go a fair bit quicker yet."
Other Class leaders included motoring journalists Peter McKay and Paul Gover aboard last year¹s Class E Bathurst winning Proton M21 Coupe and BMW 323I drivers Wayne Russell and Bob Middleton in Class S.
QUALIFYING 1. - Garry Waldon/John Bowe - Dodge Viper GTS Coupe - 2:25.344 2. - Ed Aitken/John Faulkner - Porsche 911 RSCS - 2:28.512 3. - Wayne Park/Ross Palmer - Ferrari F355 Challenge - 2:30.159 4. - Beric Lynton/Michael Simpson - BMW M3-R Coupe - 2:30.623 5. - Peter Fitzgerald/Jim Richards - Porsche 911 RSCS - 2:30.660 CLASS B: Clyde Lawrence/Peter Gazzard - Subaru Impreza WRX - 2:40.229 CLASS C: John McIlroy/Brett Youlden - Ford Falcon AU XR8 - 2:45.870 CLASS D: Steven Richards/Greg Murphy - Holden Vectra GL 2.2 - 2:52.879 CLASS E: Peter McKay/Paul Gover - Proton M21 Coupe - 2:54.940 CLASS S: Wayne Russell/Bob Middleton - BMW 323i - 2:50.330