FHOLDEN: Wills Manfield qualifying

Twenty-four-year-old Melbourne based Aucklander Simon Wills (Birrana Racing - Reynard 94D) backed up his morning preliminary pole spot with a scintillating pole time for tomorrow's 30 lap Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy race to be held at Manfield. ...

Twenty-four-year-old Melbourne based Aucklander Simon Wills (Birrana Racing - Reynard 94D) backed up his morning preliminary pole spot with a scintillating pole time for tomorrow's 30 lap Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy race to be held at Manfield. On a dry track, Wills was the only driver to break into the 61 second bracket and stopped the watches at a record setting 61.23s, and average speed of more than 178km/h. Behind him it was all action with no fewer than four drivers filling second spot at different stages of the exciting 20-minute session. NRC Racing's 95D mounted pair of Andy Booth and Matthew Halliday made it three Auckland based drivers filling the top three spots with second and third respectively.

Just 0.127s separated second spot down to fifth, which was filled by LeRoy Stevenson in the second Birrana Racing entry. The lone hand for Australia in the top five was debutante standout Rick Kelly (Murphy Motorsport - M ONE 11 95D). Despite having only driven 15 laps in testing and with just three practice sessions under his belt from yesterday, seventeen-year-old Kelly (runner-up in this year's Australian FFord Championship) was at one point as high as second, but fell down the order to fourth as the session drew to a close. Another Aussie teen star, Paul Dumbrell, wound up sixth, but was again struck down by engine dramas.

Seventh fastest was Emerson Newton-John, still coming to grips with a new engine and a lack of miles. Newton-John finished the session ahead of the Hocking Motorsport pair of Stuart Kostera and Steve Owen, after both drivers endured a troubled session. Kostera had a couple of off track moments, as did Owen - who was a late starter in qualifying after breaking an axle on his out lap. Tenth, and fastest of the Silver Star runners was Roger Oakeshott, having a reliable run and bringing his times down with every session in his totally revamped 97D. Terry Clearihan and Mark Ellis rounded out the twelve drivers recording a time, with Ian Peters, Ian Lloyd and Dean Cockerton failing to register a lap. Tomorrow's preliminary will be contested over 20 laps, with the feature event destined to be a 30 lap epic. <pre> Top Ten Qualifiers - Determines Grid for Race 2 (Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy) on Sunday

Pos Driver Team Car Laps Fastest On 1 Simon Wills Birrana Racing Reynard 94D 18 1:01.236 16 2 Andy Booth NRC Racing Reynard 95D 17 1:02.075 15 3 Matthew Halliday NRC Racing Reynard 95D 18 1:02.131 16 4 Rick Kelly Greg Murphy Racing Reynard 94D 19 1:02.157 16 5 LeRoy Stevenson Birrana Racing Reynard 94D 18 1:02.202 8 6 Paul Dumbrell Kmart Racing Reynard 93D 8 1:03.225 4 7 Emerson Newton-John Greg Murphy Racing Reynard 92D 16 1:03.367 11 8 Stuart Kostera Hocking Motorsport Reynard 97D 17 1:03.881 15 9 Steve Owen Hocking Motorsport Reynard 97D 6 1:04.543 6 10 Roger Oakeshott Sportsmed Racing Reynard 98D 17 1:04.633 11

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Series Other open wheel
Drivers Matthew Halliday , Denny Hulme , Greg Murphy , Rick Kelly , Simon Wills , Steve Owen , Paul Dumbrell , Mark Ellis , Stuart Kostera , Emerson Newton-John , Andy Booth , Dean Cockerton