Defending champion Jim Richards took the wheel of a brand new Porsche GT3 for the first time today and immediately claimed pole position in the Century Batteries GT Production car category at Phillip Island, Victoria.
Richards set the fastest time of 1 minute 40.18 seconds in qualifying for tomorrow's first race of the season, a curtainraiser to the Century Batteries 1-Hour Showroow Shootout on Sunday.
Although he had not tested the Porsche - which he personally rebuilt from a wreck over the past six weeks - Richards was almost four seconds faster than his nearest competitor Wayne Park, driving a $350,000 Ferrari F360 Modena Challenge.
"The car went a little better than I expected. Before today I'd only driven it once around the block at home," Richards said.
With Richards, Park and the third and fourth-fastest cars all competing in the new Century Batteries GTP Nation's Cup category for production supercars, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 5 driver Bob Hughes claimed the honours for GT Production cars costing up to $100,000 and for the AutObarn High Performance class.
Melbourne driver David Wood topped the Sports Touring class, despite a 170 kmh spin in his Honda Integra Type R.
QUALIFYING TIMES OUTRIGHT 1. Jim Richards (Porsche GT3) 1 min. 40.18 sec. 2. Wayne Park (Ferrari F360 Challenge) 1:43.96 3. Mark Williamson (Porsche GT3) 1:45.26 4. Murray Carter (Chevrolet Corvette C5) 1:47.38 5. Bob Hughes (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V) 1:47.49
CLASS GTP Nation's Cup: Jim Richards (Porsche GT3) 1:40.18 AutObarn High Performance: Bob Hughes (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V) 1:47.49 Hippies Sports Touring: David Wood (Honda Integra Type R) 1:54.40 Pennzoil V8 Touring: Mark Cohen (Holden Commodore VS SS) 1:55.19 Pennzoil Six-cylinder Touring: No time recorded Poolrite Four-cylinder Touring: Melinda Price (Holden Vectra) 2:00.47
PROUDLY SUPPORTED BY: Century Batteries, Meguiars Killer Shine, PAutobarn, ennzoil, Poolrite, Hippies